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Tall man with rigid leg stood three hours on Virgin flight

May 7, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A noted motivational speaker and author was forced to stand for three hours on a Virgin Australia flight from Perth to Brisbane because the airline couldn’t find anywhere suitable to seat him, according to reports.

Sam Cawthorn, who was 2009 Young Australian of the Year for Tasmania (, stands 190cm tall and has a fused leg and a prosthetic arm.  The fused leg doesn’t bend.

Sam Cawthorn

Sam Cawthorn

A report in Brisbane’s Courier Mail says that when Cawthorn, a loyal Virgin Australia flyer, platinum grade, boarded the flight to Brisbane and found his assigned seat wasn’t suitable, he asked the cabin supervisor to be moved.

A row of three empty seats didn’t work because his leg extended into the aisle and obstructed the food trolley. Cawthorn says he saw many other suitable seats, and offered to pay for an upgrade, but “the cabin supervisor did not permit a seat change”, citing “airline policy”.

In the end, Cawthorn says he had no choice but to stand for three hours near the toilets.

Cawthorn usually upgrades to business class but says he was too late this time.

Virgin Australia told the Courier Mail it regretted being unable to help Cawthorn on Friday but it wasn’t given any notice about his disability.

Cawthorn reckons policy is getting in the way of common sense.

The paper didn’t disclose the location of the “suitable” seats that Cawthorn saw.

Written by : Peter Needham

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