Airline forced to pay for psychotherapy after 'stopping woman boarding flight for being too big'
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Featured Image Credit: Instagram/juliananehme
An airline has been ordered to pay the cost of therapy for a woman who accused them of refusing to let her board as she was ‘too fat’.
Influencer and plus-sized model Juliana Nehme, 38, accused Qatar Airways of discriminating against her due to her size when she was attempting to board a flight from Beirut to Doha on 22 November.
Juliana said she had flown into the country with a different airline and had had no problems, but when she was attempting to return home to Brazil, via Doha, she claims a staff member approached her and told her she would have to buy a first-class seat.
In a post on Instagram, she said: “They are denying my right to travel … I’m desperate, help me, they don’t want me to board because I’m fat.”
She added: “What a shame for a company like Qatar to allow this type of discrimination against people! I’m fat, but I’m just like everyone else!”
Juliana said the airline’s refusal to let her on the flight meant she also missed her onward connection to her home in Sao Paolo.
She claimed Qatar Airways did not offer to refund her the $1,000 she had paid for her ticket, instead insisting she had to buy a first class ticket where larger seats were available – something that would set her back $3,000.
In an interview with local media, Juliana said: “It was like I wasn’t a human being to them. I was a fat monster that couldn’t get on board.
“It was horrible. I’d never imagined going through something like this, ever.
“It hurts me now to remember how much I blamed myself because I blamed myself a lot, I even asked my mother for forgiveness several times.
“I said, ‘Mum, forgive me because me being like this stopped you from going home.’ And she said it wasn’t my fault.”
Now a court in Sao Paulo has ordered the airline to for psychotherapy for Juliana to help get over the incident.
Judge Renata Martins de Carvalho ruled that the airline must stump up for psychiatric or psychological treatment by a trusted professional - and it must consist ‘of a weekly therapy session worth $78 for a period of at least one year, totalling $3,718 to be deposited in the plaintiff’s bank account’.
The judge said the ‘granting of urgent relief is a reasonable and proportionate measure to ensure that the stressful and traumatic event is overcome’.
Juliana's lawyer Eduardo Barbosa said the ruling was a ‘milestone in the fight against prejudice’.
Qatar Airways said in a statement: “Qatar Airways treats all passengers with respect and dignity and in line with industry practices and similar to most airlines, anyone who impedes upon the space of a fellow traveler and cannot secure their seatbelt or lower their armrests may be required to purchase an additional seat both as a safety precaution and for the comfort and safety of all passengers.
“The passenger in question at Beirut Airport was initially extremely rude and aggressive to check-in staff when one of her traveling party did not produce required PCR documentation for entry to Brazil.
“As a result, airport security was requested to intervene as staff and passengers were extremely concerned with her behavior.
"We can confirm that the passenger was rebooked on a flight from Lebanon."