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Too fat to fly: French family stranded in U.S.

35 Comments

A French family who came to the United States for medical treatment said they were stranded in Chicago after British Airways determined their son was too fat to fly.

Kevin Chenais, 22, spent a year and a half at the Mayo Clinic for treatment of a hormone disorder which led him to weigh 500 pounds.

His mother was near tears as she described the family's problems to the local CBS affiliate.

"We blame British Airways because now they just leave us, and they brought us here," Christina Chenais told the station. "If they could bring him here with that problem in economy, there was a way to take him back by economy but just get him back home for his medical treatments to continue."

The family spent a week in an airport hotel trying to resolve the matter and, running out of money, has decided their only option is to take a train to New York and cross the Atlantic on the Queen Mary cruise ship.

Kevin Chenais requires round-the-clock oxygen and medical attention.

"I'm sure a lot of big people like me or bigger cannot travel because they have the same problem," he told the station, head hanging down as he sat up in bed. "This time before leaving I knew something would go wrong."

A British Airways spokesperson told AFP that its customer service team "worked diligently to find a solution."

"We will always try to accommodate someone if it's possible and safe to do so," Caroline Titmuss wrote in an e-mail.

"Unfortunately, it is not possible to safely accommodate the customer on any of our aircraft and the family has been offered a full refund."

The airline said it provided hotel accommodation for the family along with "guidance and support" to help explore other travel options.

A spokeswoman for the French consulate told AFP it "attempted a mediation with British Airways, but the position of the airline is firm on the security issue."

It has provided the family with the names of two lawyers who may be able to help.

The Chenais family did not immediately return requests for comment.

© (c) 2013 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

35 Comments
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British Air flew in child over but will not fly him back. This takes the prize for airline irresponsibility.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

So BA can't give up one of their precious 1st class seats for a sick boy? Shame is word that will soon be deleted from dictionaries.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

The boy must have gained a lot of weight during the year and a half at the Mayo Clinic because there's no way anyone weighing even 300 pounds could fit into an economy class seat. A 500 pound person could not even fit into a First Class seat, they would need a special seat.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Treatment of the hormone disorder led him to weigh 500 lbs (that's 227 kilos in real money).

How much did he way on his original flight across the Atlantic?

What happens if there's turbulence or another emergency?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

There are sumo guys who weight over 200 kilos, how do they fly? (By the way, I know that there are many Americans reading this site, but it is a site for all the foreigners in Japan, could we use the international standard units instead of local units such as pounds, inches, tsubo or whatnot)

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Timeon, I think if it was BRITISH Airways, they use STONES, so I really want all of this converted to the traditional BRITISH weight measure, so 1 STONE is how many POUNDS??

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I really want all of this converted to the traditional BRITISH weight measure, so 1 STONE is how many POUNDS??

Would you like them to write their articles in ye olde English as well?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Elbuda: One stone is 14 pounds (obviously). I wonder why Air France cannot accommodate the boy in return for positive publicity? Still, I wouldn't want a fatty like that in the economy seat next to me on any flight. Why can't his family buy a business class seat, instead of expecting some innocent passenger to suffer a flab overflow into their personal space?

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Tragically hilarious

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

If they can afford to send him to the US, they can afford to buy a business class seat. Frankly, I am happy airlines have started to enforce rules about this. If you need an extension seat belt, buy two seats or go sit in business. I paid for my seat and shouldn't be made to suffer because of someone being too large for the seat they purchased. BA was nice - refunded tickets, put them up in hotels... Cost them a lot more than the price of a ticket.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

I agree, somehow things don't add up here. A cruise ticket costs way more than a business class one.

If he truly needs 24/7 oxygen and medical he should be flown via a medical plane. Insurances like that exist where they will fly you & family out on a specially equipped jetstream or similar.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

it's me: I wondered about that too and was surprised to find that you can get a ticket on the Queen Mary, 7-day transatlantic from Brooklyn to Southampton for the starting price of $799 or 78,000 yen (496 pounds). Whereas the lowest price I found on BA's site for a first class ticket started at $10,000 or 981,000 yen (6,214 pounds),

3 ( +3 / -0 )

About three months of boycotting BA completely should make them change their minds. If not then make it six months

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Good call, Timeon.

The least Agence France Presse can do is translate pounds to kilos. Anglophone doesn't equate with knowledge of imperial measures, and I imagine La Famille Chenais had to Google 500 pounds, like many of us native English speakers.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

A British Airways.... “Unfortunately, it is not possible to safely accommodate the customer on any of our aircraft

True ? You wouldn't be able to transport 10% of Americans. Well, let's immediately attribute the slots of BA in American airports to carriers that are competent to do the job.

A 500 pound person could not even fit into a First Class seat,

In BA planes no. In the old Aeroflot ones, no problem. That shows it's a choice. People are short, tall, thin, big, healthy, sick. they have to propose something for everybody. If they don't make what it takes to carry me and all relatives, well, please give me back my share of taxes to finance airports and rescue failing air carriers.

A 500 pound person could not even fit into a First Class seat, they would need a special seat.

The guy is an wheelchair, so he brings his special seat. I have flown with people like him, and some others on wheel beds. The companies are able to accommodate in a part of the plane where seats can be removed and where they can block medicalised seats for safety. They don't want to make the effort.

If he truly needs 24/7 oxygen and medical he should be flown via a medical plane.

Insurances usually reserve it to emergency cases. There are already many, but people like this guy are really many, that could be your granpa, etc. So regular carriers have to propose something.

. Frankly, I am happy airlines have started to enforce rules about this.

So we'll be glad too the day you will get stranded somewhere because you have a few broken bones or whatever makes you don't fit in the seat.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Fedex that blob... hormone disorder... right... you dont gain that much wait from a hormone disorder.. I salute BA for not folding under pressure!

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

at Alex

I think you have never seen anyone with such a disorder or else you won`t make such an irresponsible comment. Try having some empathy with others and keep aside your humor for sometime.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

So we'll be glad too the day you will get stranded somewhere because you have a few broken bones or whatever makes you don't fit in the seat.

Speak for yourself Cos, not others. Where do it state he's in a wheelchair?? Sorry but I have been cramped up in a seat I paid for due to the person next to me being too large for their seats. Why should I have to suffer when I paid for a certain amount of room? The solution would've been to buy two seats. Sorry but this story doesn't add up. Do I feel sorry that this guy has a medical problem? Sure but why should other passengers have to be uncomfortable due to this? Not to mention the safety issues. If he needs oxygen, he shouldn't be on a regular flight.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8cVioVCX4M&feature=youtube_gdata

In the video the young man is moving about on a motorized chair/cart type of vehicle.

From what it says in the article and the video, it doesn't sound like BA was willing to accommodate him even with two seats.

You can certainly fly on regular flights with oxygen, although you must notify the airline in advance. This is from British Airways' site:

If you need to use oxygen on board you must book it in advance. We can only provide oxygen to one passenger per flight so availability may be restricted. The medical information form needs to be completed by you and your doctor before we can clear you to travel. We cannot provide oxygen on the ground at any airports.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Empathy? for a fat person, absolutely not! Nobody shall suffer if you cant stop eat, you dont get fat from air... keep a balanced diet and exercise - extremely simple! Airlines, should quadriple charge anyone over normal weight and give them the 3 seats.

-15 ( +0 / -15 )

I wonder why Air France cannot accommodate the boy in return for positive publicity?

That was my initial thought as well. If the French are concerned to the point of trying to mediate with BA (as this article says), why not just fly him back on one of their planes. Then I realized ... as others have said, there's simply no seat on standard passenger planes capable of handling a 500lb person. Its pretty clear he wasn't nearly that big when he first went to the States ... makes you wonder how the guy got so fat when he was supposedly under care of some of the best doctors on the planet. And why is it that he's now safe to travel home?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Sorry but I have been cramped up in a seat I paid for due to the person next to me being too large for their seats.

Me too. Perfect me is less than 1m60. Then guys over 1.80, even over 2 m... oh could parents let them grow like that ? Well in addition, no education, they dare boarding in economy class, they push the seat into my back. And in the subway, they are all pushing over my head and I'm unable to read the ads on the train wall even if I paid my ticket same price as them. So let's start a petition to say anyone over 1m60 has to travel in special compartment like giraffes ? Joking of course, but that's what you are saying. I don't care whether the guy is big on his fault , due to bad lifestyle choices, and if the one bounced from another plane last month is guilty of being in a chair for life after a motorbike accident. At the end of the day, there are not many perfect people in a crowd. And cases of airplane companies refusing them service every other week (or more often as all is not making the news) because they want to keep only the most profitable customers.

Why should I have to suffer when I paid for a certain amount of room?

I guess you're the kind of persons that doesn't want to pay for public places accessibility efforts for disabled. So if we make the picture broader, society should not waste a cent on those too weak....

Speak for yourself Cos, not others.

No, I don't want to vote on this one. Even if others are in majority thinking like you, you're still wrong.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

So if we make the picture broader, society should not waste a cent on those too weak / too fat or too sick , exactly!

-12 ( +0 / -12 )

“We blame British Airways because now they just leave us, and they brought us here,” NO its your fault for eating to many crisps and chocolate, cake etc. wake up its your fault YOU take all of the blame! it no other person fault its you that is at fault stop f***** eating rubbish food

0 ( +0 / -0 )

alex einz: Empathy? for a fat person, absolutely not! Nobody shall suffer if you cant stop eat, you dont get fat from air...

I get that you think you're being a clever little provocateur but you did read the bit about him being in hospital for a year due to a treatment for a hormonal disorder, right? The Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit hospital so they didn't keep him there just to line their coffers.

So if we make the picture broader, society should not waste a cent on those too weak / too fat or too sick , exactly!

Get back to us when you're perfect. I suspect it'll be quite a wait.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I am not a provocateur, I just dont think society should bear burden of people that cant control weight, hormonal disorder doesnt make you put food in you mouth and reach such proportions. Family should bear any and all expense resulting from that, none from society. I am quite allright , thank you , pay my taxes, pay my med bills and train regularly.

BA wouldnt mind if they could accomodate a full row for him, or the family would pay for that. There is no reason being fat would allow you to have the convenience on expense of others,there is nothing more disgusting than a obese spilling over your seat in a public transport.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Alex you say hormones won't lead to the weight. you should research more. There are those who get fat from bad choices but maybe about 10 percent of them have serious issues.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I take objection to this headline which suggests that it's just some obesity problem. I can not help but think that BA has good and valid reasons why they could not accommodate this 500 lb passenger, not just the weight and size but the medical requirements that went with him and the risks entailed. As a French national I think the French government should request assistance from the US and a specially (medically) fitted C-17 might be in order.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Alex

Be thankful you don't yet have a hormonal disorder that causes rapid weight gain without necessarily eating a lot. It does happen to some people so check the facts out before making stupid comments.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

alex einz: I am not a provocateur, I just dont think society should bear burden of people that cant control weight,

I hate to let you in on this but society bears the burden for millions of people for countless reasons: people who smoke or smoke around others in confined spaces, people who drive too fast, recklessly or inattentively, people who drink too much, people who don't pay attention when they are walking along busy streets, people who ride bicycles or motorcycles without proper helmets or any helmets and get into accidents resulting in incapacitating head injuries, people who have accidents while skiing, mountain climbing, playing football, people who drink their tea too hot and increase their odds of esophageal cancer, people who travel without getting vaccinations and end up with hepatitis and other diseases, people who don't practice safe sex. Shall I go on? Again, get back to us when you're perfect.

there is nothing more disgusting than a obese spilling over your seat in a public transport.

Actually, there is and you've proved just that with your nasty posts. Well done.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

ambrosia... all you listed have nothing to do with a fatty taking someone else personal space or demanding a private company to accomodate them ( which they actually did so not to inconvenience normal paying customers) ... We all pay medical insurance and taxes and covering our demand and thus not a burden, and of someone does not pay..they should not get ANY care whatsoever.... there is no urgency in flying someone too fat... and hormonal disorder again dont make you that fat...fat not created from AIR...

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Cleo, clearly I'm not wrong since this kid wasn't allowed to fly. Any idea how dangerous it is to be stuck up against the wall next to someone so obese they don't fit in their seat? Imagine an emergency and someone dying because they couldn't get out of their seat because the person next to them was too large. You want those kid of safety standards? Great. I don't. I also don't pay an arm and a leg for a subway ticket so your point is moot on that as well. Two seats. If they can't fit into two, ship it is. Hundreds of passenger's safety - and comfort - shouldn't be risked over one large person.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

tmarie, sorry but I don't know why you're addressing your post to me. I haven't made any comment at all on this thread.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sorry Cleo - force of habit?? That was meant for Cos!! A C and an O??

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This article does not mention what he weighed before he came here. Sounds like the treatment didn't work too well.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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