Two Women Felt 'Humiliated' After Being Kicked Off A Flight For Being 'Too Big'

They were embarrassed at being publicly discriminated against because of their weight.

upset woman sitting in airport terminal with head in hands - Yuri A / Shutterstock

Two women were left hurt and humiliated after they were publicly embarrassed on a flight for their weight.

Angel Harding told 1News, a New Zealand news outlet, that she and her friend had been aboard their flight when suddenly a flight attendant claimed that the plane couldn't take off unless the two of them disembarked. The reasoning was equally as mortifying, and the two ladies were unable to protest.


The two women were kicked off a flight for being 'too big.'

Harding explained to 1News that she and her friend had been flying from Napier to Auckland, and while sitting in her seat, she felt a sudden pain in her arm. When Harding turned to see what had happened, she noticed a flight attendant trying to push the armrest of her seat down while speaking to her in an "aggressive manner."

RELATED: Flight Attendant Shares 3 Things People Should Stop Doing On Flights & One Of Them Is Really Concerning


She informed Harding and her friend that the pilot could only take off once the armrests were in the correct position. The incident wasn't consistent with their experience on an earlier flight. The two women had reportedly been returning from a Hui (a Māori term for an "informal gathering") in Hastings, a city in Northern New Zealand. They'd flown from Kerikeri to Auckland and then Auckland to Napier without any issue.

"I just couldn’t believe what was happening to me," Harding told the news outlet of the traumatizing incident. The two women were further confused after a loudspeaker announcement was heard saying that all passengers were required to disembark from the plane following an "inconvenience."

Two Women Humiliated After Being Kicked Off A Flight For Their WeightPhoto: BraunS / Canva Pro


Once the flight attendant came back from making the announcement, she explained to Harding and her friend that they should have "booked four seats" and should have split both seats between each other because of their size. That's when Harding and her friend realized that they were the "inconvenience" that was delaying takeoff.

"She said, 'Don’t you think you should be seated if the plane is in motion?'" Harding recalled her friend telling the flight attendant after becoming offended by her tone. "And then [the flight attendant] looked at both of us and said, 'I can get you both kicked off this flight.'"

Harding and her friend, who were both in wheelchairs because of a medical condition, were escorted off of the plane and separated from the other passengers. Harding's other friend, Kathleen Tuhiwai Wharemate, who was flying with the two women but had a separate seat, admitted that she was devastated once she realized what had happened to them.

"As I was pushed [back] out to the plane, I looked back and saw them both crying, and I was crying, and it was just so sad leaving them behind," she said, according to the Daily Mail.


While the airline never explicitly said the two women were kicked off because of their weight, Harding knew they were being discriminated against.

"My thoughts are they took me off because of my build, because of my size," she said. "As to myself and our build, our size had a lot to do with it. They didn’t say it [was]; they said it was an inconvenience."



Harding tried to explain to the flight attendant that neither she nor her friend could afford two extra seats and that she had no family in the area. To make matters worse, Harding said they were told that they'd needed to rebook on another flight that would accommodate them, which wouldn't be available for two days.

RELATED: Traveler Called Entitled For Saving A Row Of Airline Seats For Her Friends Who Boarded Late


Thankfully, Air New Zealand footed the bill for the rebooked flight and provided the two women with accommodations, meals, and free access to the lounge in the airport. The airline also issued an apology to the two women.

"We are committed to treating all customers with respect and dignity, and we apologize that these customers received an inconsistent experience," an airline spokesperson said in a statement, per Daily Mail. "We will continue to work with the customer directly to address their concerns."

Despite the airline's quick response to the incident, Harding and her friend were still embarrassed by the flight attendant's brazen attitude and were seeking compensation for what they went through.

"We’re all humans, we’re all human, and I don’t ever want anyone to go through the trauma that we are going through right now," she said.


Unfortunately, Harding and her friend weren't the only people who experienced weight discrimination on flights.

In April 2023, plus-size travel influencer Jae’lynn Chaney launched a petition urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to mandate all airlines for a comprehensive customer-of-size policy that "prioritizes the comfort and well-being of all passengers." One of the many demands listed in Chaney’s petition was that all airlines should "provide accessible additional seats to customers-of-size" who may require more space or "encroach onto another passenger’s space."

"We need the policies to be a little bit more standardized," Chaney told CNN Travel. "At the bare minimum, we need every airline to have a policy that tells people of size how to navigate their airline."

It's a basic human rights issue at this point, with many plus-size people feeling as if airlines are incredibly non-inclusive. In recent research, 42% of plus-size travelers said that airline employees or other passengers had unfavorable attitudes toward them while they were flying.


Every person deserves to fly without fear or judgment because of their size, and airlines need to do more to ensure that each and every passenger feels safe and comfortable during their journey. 

RELATED: Passenger Says Flight Attendants ‘Did Nothing’ While A ‘Mysterious Liquid’ Dripped On Her From An Overhead Bin

Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.