UPDATE (Friday 28th May 2021): Lambie has since denied using a homophobic slur and her version of events has been backed by Qantas. An update to this story can be found here.
A Tasmanian senator has been banned by Qantas from flying on any of its planes for the next six months after she allegedly launched into a foul-mouthed tirade at airport ground staff who had refused her access to the exclusive ‘Chairman’s Club’ lounge at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport.
Jacqui Lambie, an independent lawmaker who founded her own political party called the Jacqui Lambie Network, has since apologised following the incident on March 25 in which she was accused of abusing staff and using apparently homophobic slurs.
During her tirade, Lambie allegedly called the openly gay chief executive of the Australian flag carrier a “poof” and referred to the use of “pussy power” to get her way with harassed check-in staff. Alan Joyce was appointed CEO of Qantas in 2008 and is one of the most high-profile LGBTQ business leaders in the world.
Lambie hasn’t denied using the slur or abusing Qantas staffers but apologised for her actions which she blamed on a long week and other life stresses.
“It had been a long few weeks up in Parliament. It’s just been a really, really long year,” Lambie said. “Basically I just blew my stack and unfortunately there was a couple of Qantas staff members that wore that.”
“I’m extremely apologetic for my behaviour for that few minutes,” she continued, saying it was “unfair” to put the check-in staff through her tirade.
Her behaviour has landed Lambie with a six-month ban from flying with Qantas and its budget subsidiary Jetstar. The ban was, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, decided after to and fro negotiations between the airline and the senator’s office. The suspension will kick in from early April.
“I’ll take whatever punishment Qantas throws at me. I’ve done the crime and I’ll do the time because that’s what I deserve,” Lambie conceded.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.