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Virgin Australia forces a man to stand on transcon flight.

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markis10

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SAM Cawthorn is a loyal Virgin Australia passenger and a frequent flyer who usually receives excellent service.

So he was shocked when he was forced to stand on an overnight flight from Perth to Brisbane last Friday due to his disability.
Mr Cawthorn, a motivational speaker, author and the 2009 Young Australian of the Year for Tasmania, is 6”3 and has a fused leg and a prosthetic arm. He simply cannot fit in just any seat on a plane.
So when he boarded the flight and realised his assigned seat wasn’t suitable, he asked the cabin supervisor to be moved.

Disabled passenger Sam Cawthorn forced to stand on Virgin Australia flight | News.com.au
 

N860CR

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I really struggle to see how somebody who claims to be a VA WP could get onto one of their planes not knowing the type of seating available.

He claims he "doesn't fit in a normal airline seat", so why did he booked one?

Clearly chasing a free J upgrade.
 

Hvr

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A few too many things not right here:

So when he boarded the flight and realised his assigned seat wasn’t suitable, he asked the cabin supervisor to be moved.
Is he fair dinkum? A regular traveller with specific needs doesn't realise his assigned seat isn't suitable? He has the ability by virtue of his status to choose the better seats. I saw the story on the news last night and it seemed to me he was counting on being upgraded to J either with points or an op-up.

And then this:
“There were many other suitable seats to which the cabin supervisor did not permit a seat change.”
I wonder if he was expecting other people to be moved to less desirable seats? If so then I'm glad they didn't move others because he didn't plan ahead.

As a motivational speaker he knows that planning ahead is part of the reason for success in everything you do. Frankly this DYKWIA attitude demeans his message and shows him up as someone who expects others to give him things because he wants them.

Apparently part of his spiel is about overcoming adversity, in this instance he failed himself and is blaming others.
 

robd

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Gosh, how long is his leg?

"He was relocated to a row of three empty seats but his leg, which doesn’t bend at all, extended into the aisle and was repeatedly hit by other passengers and the food trolley."
 

serfty

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...

And then this:
“There were many other suitable seats to which the cabin supervisor did not permit a seat change.”
...
Also this:
But despite seeing numerous suitable options, both in economy and business class, Mr Cawthorn claims the cabin supervisor refused to accommodate him, due to “airline policy”. He even offered to pay for an upgrade, but was denied.
I wonder how the latter was addressed?
 

lovestotravel

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I can only laugh when these types of articles make the "press" because someone who has flown so much doesn't get what they want (free upgrade)

He has spoken in 12 countries and is a "loyal" Virgin FF with Platinum status, so clearly he has flown VA many times and other airlines many times and given the relatively small fleet configurations with Virgin he should be more than well aware of the seats that are suitable for him.

His disability doesn't appear to be a recent one, so he has flown considerably with his disability - So he should know better

My thoughts - He wanted a free business class upgrade
 

yo yo ma

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Sounds like he is either after some free publicity for his business or a free upgrade... sorry Sam but your story is just not believable. If you are a platinum FF you would know about your seat allocation before you boarded.

I wonder what his solution would be on a full flight?
 

QF WP

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No self-respecting motivational speaker flies Y...they have J written into their contracts for speaking engagements. He must be on the "B" circuit.

The airline said it regrets being unable to assist Mr Cawthorn on Friday but it wasn’t given any notice about his disability.“Virgin Australia sincerely apologises for any discomfort experienced by Mr Cawthorn on his recent flight,” an airline spokesman said.
“We take the comfort and safety of all guests very seriously and we ask guests that require special assistance to provide the information when booking to enable us to accommodate these requests.
“Unfortunately this information was not provided in advance and therefore while our crew endeavoured to assist Mr Cawthorn within safety policies and procedures, we were unable to meet his requests on this occasion.
“All guest feedback is important us and we are committed to providing a safe and enjoyable travel experience.”

There are just too many holes in his story - if he's a Plat, then surely he (or his TA) know well what needs to be done (special assistance)
 
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harvyk

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Yeah, I'm with the others (and I came to that conclusion whilst reading the article, not seeing the comments here), if he was a first time flyer, sure I'd believe that he had made a genuine mistake. But as a plat it's not like this was his first (or second or even third) time on a plane.

+1 on the belief he was simply asking for a free upgrade to J...
 

Princess Fiona

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Like others I think there has to be a lot more to the story than what's in the report.
I'm going to reserve my judgment as I'm not aware of the full facts.
I will however say that not all Plats are as fastidious in seat allocation and knowing aircraft types etc as some of us on here. Shrek for example wouldn't even have a clue what aircraft type he was flying and cares not if he's in row 23 or row 53 as long as it's not a middle seat.

Like most cluster-f*#&s there's clearly been a breakdown in communication either at check-in/ lounge/onboard.

I don't know too many VA Plats who score onboard free upgrades as a regular occurrence and I suspect this pax is not one of them and may not have been seeking one either.
 

yo yo ma

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His disability doesn't appear to be a recent one, so he has flown considerably with his disability
His accident occurred in 2006 according to his website, so you are right it is not recent. His website will be enjoying the increase in traffic so maybe he is getting the desired result?
 

RB

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ISTR that Ten news said that the armrests of the row of 3 he was offered did not lift so that alternative did not work.
 

robd

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ISTR that Ten news said that the armrests of the row of 3 he was offered did not lift so that alternative did not work.
Well if that's the case, it would not be a suitable solution to the problem.

Can anyone suggest which seat would work (excluding J)?
 

Reggie

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No self-respecting motivational speaker flies Y...they have J written into their contracts for speaking engagements. He must be on the "B" circuit.

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There are just too many holes in his story - if he's a Plat, then surely he (or his TA) know well what needs to be done (special assistance)
I think he was on his own coin this trip. I was attending a separate training course at Cliftons in Perth, and he was there doing what appeared to be a fee for attendance event.
 

harvyk

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I will however say that not all Plats are as fastidious in seat allocation and knowing aircraft types etc as some of us on here. Shrek for example wouldn't even have a clue what aircraft type he was flying and cares not if he's in row 23 or row 53 as long as it's not a middle seat.
The average plat (or flyer in general) probably doesn't have memorized the seat maps for every aircraft they could encounter, then again, the average plat is physically capable of sitting in any seat on the aircraft (inc 53E, despite what some might say). They may not be happy about it, but they will physically fit.

With this guy, he's is unable to just fit in any seat (otherwise this wouldn't be a discussion point), and as such there should be some degree of personal responsibility towards ensuring that he does book suitable seats.

As you say, there is probably a bit more than what is being reported.
 

eastwest101

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Given that he has limited ability to bend his right leg and is 6ft 4" tall it would appear that he has either jagged an exit row Y seat a Row 3 Y seat or an upgrade to J on every previous VA flight. In this case - it sounds like something went wrong with the J upgrade or Y exit row request.
 

Princess Fiona

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IIRC there are or were reports here of VA seat-shifting passengers including Plats. Could it be that his carefully selected seat disappeared due to one of those ground staff mix-ups?
 

eastwest101

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IIRC there are or were reports here of VA seat-shifting passengers including Plats. Could it be that his carefully selected seat disappeared due to one of those ground staff mix-ups?

Or a dreaded last minute equipment change from a new A330 to XFA/XFB? Or A330 to a B738 substitution ?
 
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