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Airline strands family – it won’t fly quarter-tonne man

November 11, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A family has been left stranded at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport after an airline refused to carry their son, a 22-year-old who weighs 226.8 kilograms – about a quarter of a tonne.

The parents of Kevin Chenais brought their son from France to the US to spend 18 months at the Mayo Clinic, the world’s largest not-for-profit medical group practice, for treatment of the hormone disorder which apparently contributes to his obesity. Now they can’t get him back home.

Kevin Chenais weighs about the same as 10 suitcases packed to the economy-class limit – but that’s not the basis of the airline’s objection. British Airways feels it would be unsafe to carry him, despite his mother insisting that it was BA which brought him to Chicago in the first place.

Screen shot of Chenais shown on TV in Chicago

Screen shot of Chenais shown on TV in Chicago

Whether Kevin’s weight has increased in the 18 months since BA brought him to the US is not known.

The family has been stuck in a hotel for a week at BA’s expense, Britain’s Daily Mail reports.

Kevin’s mother Christina Chenais told CBS TV in Chicago: “If they could bring him here with that problem in economy, there was a way to take him back by economy…” She wants to return him home to continue his medical treatment.

Kevin requires constant oxygen and full-time care.

It may be that other airlines feel similarly to BA, as rather than fly with another carrier, the family now plans to travel by train to New York to board the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship to England, the paper reported.

A BA spokesman said that while the airline always tried to accommodate passengers “if it’s possible and safe to do so”, in this case the airline had exhausted all options.

Potential problems with morbidly obese passengers on aircraft can include their becoming stuck in toilet cubicles or unable to fit through toilet doors. A passenger of sufficient girth to block an aisle might impede the fast evacuation of the plane in an emergency.

Following the Daily Mail article about Kevin Chenais’ problem, reader comments seem to indicate a hard attitude and a lack of sympathy.

“Eat a salad mate – eat a salad,” wrote one reader, tersely.

Another asked: “Why go to the US for weight reduction treatment (and don’t give me any of that hormone disorder nonsense please) when the USA is the obesity capitol of the world?”

Written by Peter Needham

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