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3 Airlines Tell Woman She Is Too Fat to Fly; She Dies While Awaiting Flight that Will Accept Her

Hm…what’s the best way to summarize this?

A woman weighing more than 400 pounds is in Hungary and needs to get back to the United States for medical treatment (she has kidney problems and diabetes….and weighs 400 pounds). She books 3 seats on a KLM-operated flight for the first leg home. Oh, speaking of legs, did I mention that she only has 1 leg? I should’ve mentioned that. Anyway, she gets onto the plane but there is no seatbelt extender large enough for her. Also, she is told that the seats won’t hold her.

Anyway, she then drives to Prague where she intends to board a Delta plane, but she is soon told by Delta staff that the wheelchair that the airline uses will not hold her weight.

Finally, she purchases 3 tickets for a flight on Lufthansa. When she goes to board that plane, staff are unable to lift her out of her wheelchair after struggling for half an hour.

Two days later the passenger dies (full story here, though let me note that some of the photos are kinda unpleasant), and now her family is preparing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the 3 airlines.

I have absolutely no idea what the moral of this story is, but as a blogger I think I’m now obligated to note that had she purchased her ticket with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, she would have earned double miles. (Now the blogger police won’t come and get me).

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  1. Good advice on Sapphire Preferred. Because if she had paid with American Express Premier Rewards Gold, she’d have earned triple points but had to pay foreign currency transaction fees.

    Here’s what I haven’t actually paid enough attention to. I know what the different airline and hotel program policies are vis-a-vis points transfers at death. What’s the Chase and Amex policy? That could be dispositive.

    Sorry, this is actually a frustrating and sad story.

    Something must be missing here, and perhaps the photos which I’ve chosen not to look at would shed light. Because 400 pounds is certainly fat but not beyond what airlines accommodate regularly. So what was the challenge here that so many airlines couldn’t handle?

    I don’t know a thing about EU law in this area. But I would have to think that since so many airlines had the same issue that there’s going to be a reasonable defense, it’s clearly not that any one was behaving outside the bounds of standard and expected practice here

    • Excellent point about the PRG – forgot about the 3X there :)

      It sounded like they literally couldn’t get her into the seats. Perhaps it wasn’t the pure weight (there are plenty of 300+ pound football players) but how she carried the weight.

  2. At 400 lbs, she didn’t die Hungary at least.

  3. ‘Needed to get back to the US’

    So the airlines had figured out how to transport someone of her weight and disability before.

    At least she had the common sense and courtesy to book 3 seats, rather than book 1 and get insulted when the airlines refuse to allow travel.

    I can’t see how anyone could win this case, other than it being a grab for a quick settlement to avoid the bad PR this kind of tragedy would engender.

  4. You guys are in top form today. Keep it up :grin:

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