We are on the brink of 2023, and Qatar Airways, the world’s leading airline, was not only accused of body-shaming a passenger but also ordered to pay for therapy. In what sounds incredibly regressive, a plus-size passenger, Brazilian influencer Juliana Nehme was stopped from taking her economy seat because she was too big for her seat. For her flight from Beirut to Doha by Qatar, the 38-year-old was asked to pay $3,000 for a first-class ticket instead that offered larger seats and was denied a refund for the $947 she’d paid for an economy seat. Speaking to Brazilian media, Nehme 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.”
Naturally, the airline took a defensive stand as the spokesperson told Insider that Nehme was denied boarding when she became “extremely rude and aggressive” to check-in staff after a traveling companion failed to produce the necessary COVID-19 documentation to enter Brazil. The Social media influencer shared her traumatic experience in a post to her 167,000 Instagram followers. The incident that took place in November now has global attention as a court in Sao Paulo ordered Qatar Airways to pay for psychotherapy for Juliana so she could come to terms with the distress caused by the incident.
Per Business Insider, Judge Renata Martins de Carvalho told a Brazil court the treatment should consist of a “weekly therapy session” costing about 400 reais ($77) for at least a year, totaling 19,200 reais ($3,700). Nehme’s lawyer, Eduardo Barbosa, described the ruling as “a milestone in the fight against prejudice.” Qatar Airways ranked number one in the list of the world’s top airlines per CNBC for its exceptional passenger service, cabin innovation, and its commitment to excellence. Influencer Juliana Nehme would beg to differ, as would those who resonate with her.