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Just how enormous was that passenger in next seat?

November 22, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A man is suing an airline for being seated next to an “extremely large” passenger with enormous buttocks for 13 hours – but questions have been raised about how large the passenger in the next seat really was.

British Airways passenger Stephen Prosser, 51, claims a huge man sitting in the adjacent seat cramped him when flying home from holiday in Thailand in January 2016. He is suing the airline for damages and loss of earnings, the Guardian reports.

Prosser’s complaint surfaced in a hearing at Pontypridd county court in Wales. The legal proceedings continue.

Prosser described the “extremely large” passenger seating next to him as being 193cm in height and weighing close to 140kg. The man was so large, Prosser said, he had to “force his buttocks between the armrests of the seats”.

According to an account on BBC News, Prosser, who is 160 tall, said he suffered a pelvic injury and nerve damage in his neck during the flight.

He told the court he was seated next to a passenger who “was built like the late rugby player Jonah Lomu” – a famed New Zealand All Black who stood 196cm tall and weighed 120kg.

“In my opinion he [the passenger next to him] was obese as well as tall,” Prosser said.

“I would estimate he was 6ft 4in [193cm] in height and in excess of 22 stones [about 140kg].

“His buttocks were bulging onto my side and the rest of his bulk spilling over.

“The weight of this man’s bulk was pushing my spine in a painful, unnatural and crooked position as I tried to remain in an upright position.”

Prosser said when he complained to cabin crew he was told no alternative seat was available as the flight was full.

The BA customer service manager aboard the flight, Chris McLindon, viewed it differently, saying the passenger that Prosser complained of “was tall and broad but he was certainly not obese. He didn’t overfill the armrest or the confines of the seat.”

“I regularly walked down the aisle and Mr Prosser was not sat in an unnatural position for an economy seat.

“When Mr Prosser left the aircraft, I watched him walk down the jetty in a perfectly normal manner and he showed no signs of injury.”

Counsel representing BA suggested that Prosser’s “colourful description that he [the neighbouring passenger] was ‘built like Jonah Lomu’” was an exaggeration, as the passenger “did not need a seatbelt extender, the arm-rests were down and there was no complaint from the passenger on the other side”.

It was “not unexpected to be sat next to a large passenger on a long-haul flight”.

Counsel representing Prosser said his client had explored every other option during the flight, including sitting in the (cabin crew’s) galley seat.

“But instead he was left in the position of either going back to his seat and suffer in silence with pain-killers or walking around the cabin for 13 hours. It was a Hobson’s Choice.”

The BBC said BA confirmed it would be resisting Prosser’s claim but had declined any further comment as it felt comment would be inappropriate while legal proceedings continued.

Another instalment will no doubt follow.

Written by Peter Needham

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