Obesity, tourism and discrimination? An investigation of airline 'customer of size' policies

Promaco Conventions Pty Ltd
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the 18th CAUTHE Conference, 2009, pp. 1 - 20
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This paper explores the potential of airlines to discriminate against obese customers through their direct or indirect `customer of size policies, determined though a web survey of the policies of airlines in the One World Alliance and Star Alliance airline groups. The authors argue that discrimination can be a form of exclusion and stigmatisation by the tourism industry. A review of weight stigma theory introduces important frameworks within which the experience of the obese traveller can be considered. Exclusion can occur through non-participation or indirectly through forms of `Othering of tourist participants. By calling attention to the experiences of obese travellers and the airline policies we also ask: whose lives are privileged in the provision of the tourist experience? This exploratory research leads the authors to question why tourism scholars have not researched groups such as the obese, which, we argue, also constitute the `Other. Such an omission raises important questions about ethics and how we conceptualise and research `Tourism.
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