What would you do if you were told where to sit, just because of some meaningless trait of yours? In the case of Mirko Fischer, he rebelled and fought for justice. On the 20th of April, 2009, he and his wife were flying British Airways from London to Luxembourg. En route his pregnant wife requested they switch places so she would be more comfortable. After doing so, he was informed by the cabin crew of the airline’s policy of disallowing males to sit next to unaccompanied children, and ordered him to switch seats back with his wife. With this he was outraged. He argued with them; but, with everyone watching the affair he felt forced to comply. So he sat there brooding, watching his wife’s discomfort and loathing the stereotyping that the company had done to him simply for being born male. In his own words, “I felt humiliated and outraged. They accuse you of being some kind of child molester just because you are sitting next to someone.”
After the ordeal, he proceeded to file his claim against British Airways at Slough Country Court. He charged the company with sex discrimination and being harassed by their employees, and he sought compensation for his duress. He argued that their policy contravened the Sex Discrimination Act. British Airways, however, denied that the policy was discriminatory, even though they admitted discrimination in Mr. Fischer’s particular case. They have agreed to put the policy under review, though, which a small and tassid step in the right direction. It remains to be seen, though, how the many other cases of males being told where to sit on their planes, is not discriminatory, when they all involve the same policy, being applied the same way- only to males.
Mr. Fischer was apologized to and was awarded a sum of £2,911 for costs and damages, from the company. Upon hearing the news of the court’s decision he donated the money to charity. Obviously this man was indeed a role model for children, and it’s a shame that the boy he was told he couldn’t sit next to was made to be paranoid of his presence. At least the kid may learn to stick up for himself, in the same fashion, from his example. This is a victory for uppity men, everywhere, and I hope we can all learn from his example.
In an interview with the BBC, he said “It is sex discrimination. I want this policy to be substantially changed as it is a matter of principle. Women are not treated like this.” He is correct. None of the staff questioned his wife’s seating next to the boy, even though they were both strangers to the kid. He was picked out because of his gender. He also mentioned to the BBC that he was disappointed that British Airlines only limited its admission to sex discrimination to his case only. He hopes that the precedence of his case will help any other men who faces a similar predicament.
British Airlines is not the only company with a similar policy regarding the seating arrangements of their male passengers. Qantas and Air New Zealand both operate under the same rules. Mark Worsley could tell you of his indignation, when he was forced to change seats, because he wasn’t female.