01/12/2012 04:02 EST | Updated 01/12/2012 04:03 EST

Tall People Flying: Edmonton Man Argues Air Canada Discriminates Against Tall People


It’s no secret that “airline seats” and “spacious” generally don’t go together. But that’s an understatement for 6-foot-7 Malcolm Johnson. The Edmonton architect wants Air Canada to stop charging tall passengers additional fees for seats with more legroom.

“In order to sit comfortably and not inconvenience those around me, I have to take one of those seats, as do other tall people,” Johnson told The Edmonton Journal, adding that he thinks airlines offering international flights should attend to the needs of passengers with special needs.

Johnson told the newspaper he took his story to the Canadian Transportation Agency about a year ago. But the agency dismissed his application, claiming that Johnson failed to prove that his height is a disability.

In 2008, a Supreme Court of Canada decision made it mandatory for two of Canada’s largest airlines, WestJet and Air Canada, to provide an extra seat to obese passengers and disabled travelers who require more room, without any extra charge.

Johnson told The Edmonton Journal that he thinks a similar policy should apply to tall people and that airlines could reserve seats for passengers who need extra space.

The Edmonton native typically shells out an extra $200 to book an exit-row seat (which generally has extra legroom), according to The Toronto Star.

“To say that a seat with extra legroom is available but you have to pay extra for it, while someone else gets it at a regular price . . . I think a lot of people have a problem with this,” he told the newspaper.

Air Canada didn’t respond to The Star’s request for comment.

Incidents involving tall passengers aren’t exclusive to Canada: last year, the stepdaughter of a 6' 9" man shared with The Consumerist the letter her stepfather wrote to Horizon Air after he was asked to leave a plane. The airline apologized to the passenger after learning about the incident.