(USA TODAY) - Seating policies are being questioned following a post on Virgin Australia's website last week that says it's reviewing its policy of prohibiting men from sitting next to unaccompanied minors as a way of protecting them from predators.
The post is a response to complaints by Sydney fireman Johnny McGirr, who said he was humiliated when a Virgin Australia flight attendant made him switch seats because he was sitting next to two unaccompanied boys on a flight earlier this year.
"I was red from embarrassment," McGirr said in an Aug. 7 blog post. "I felt like I was being judged and found guilty of a crime I hadn't committed."
No major U.S. airline prohibits men from sitting next to unaccompanied children. But some carriers seat the children in specific areas.
Ben Tanzer, a spokesman for the group Prevent Child Abuse America, says Virgin Australia's policy "is probably an overreaction."
Most child-abuse perpetrators are familiar to victims and their families, he says.
Southwest Airlines seats children traveling alone close to the front of the plane, says the airline's spokeswoman, Whitney Eichinger.
Spirit Airlines spokeswoman Misty Pinson says the carrier assigns seats to them "in areas where our flight attendants can best assist them throughout the flight."
The airline doesn't allow unaccompanied minors on international flights or domestic itineraries that require a change of aircraft.
Virgin America, which is separately owned from Virgin Australia, has no restrictions on seatmates, spokeswoman Abby Lunardini says.
Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant says the carrier has no restrictions but tries to seat children flying alone next to the galley area where flight attendants work.
British Airways spokeswoman Michele Kropf says that on some flights, the airline creates an "unaccompanied minors zone" near the galley. And Air France says it seats unaccompanied minors together and without adults in adjacent seats, except when a plane is fully booked.