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Flyer Sues Emirates After Sitting Next to Obese Passenger

Italian Attorney Giorgio Destro says being forced to suffer “spillover” from the overweight flyer seated next to him on a nine-hour flight is ample grounds for restitution.

Emirates passenger Giorgio Destro was not pleased with the seating arrangements on a recent Emirates Airlines flight from Cape Town International Airport (CPT) to Dubai International Airport (DXB). The estranged Gold Member passenger alleges that the overweight passenger seated next to him on the flight made his trip a living hell.

Destro recounted his ordeal to the Italian newspaper Il Mattino di Padova, “For nine hours, I had to stand in the aisle, sit on seats reserved for the cabin crew when they were free, and in the final phase of flight resign myself to suffer the ‘spillover’ of the passenger at my side.” The Padova-based lawyer explained that he was so disturbed by the unpleasant flight that he later made the decision to sue the airline in an Italian courtroom. The attorney even took a selfie of himself seated next to the enormous seatmate in a bid to document his alleged suffering.

The litigious flyer told the Daily Mail that he was asking for more than $10,000 in restitution and damages as a result of the cramped flight. Destro says that he asked to be relocated to a seat next to a less massive passenger, but was informed that the flight was full. A spokesperson for the airline declined to comment on the incident, citing the ongoing lawsuit.

Destro told reporters that he felt compelled to take the airline to court after Emirates officials declined to apologize or otherwise compensate him as a result of the unpleasant experience. As it stands now, the case is scheduled for an initial hearing on October 20 in a Padova courtroom.


Comments are Closed.
Pdg October 8, 2016

I have the slow thyroid that is blamed for a lot of the "I can't help it" crowd that says you are fat shaming if you expect them to pay for an extra seat if they are going to consume a second seat. Here is the reality... It isn't easy, but I keep my weight to a reasonable level such that I can fly comfortably. I can't eat foods you "normal" folks can eat, though, or I do gain weight quickly. I have to do ridiculous goofy diets a couple times a year to keep weight off even with careful eating in between. It does suck. I get it. Just giving into it because I feel sorry for myself and sniveling to the world that they need to accommodate my girth would be a path I could choose. But, I didn't!!!! And, that is why I get so completely angry when they enormous person next to me is in my seat with me. Listen, I passed on the nachos and doughnuts (I love both of these foods and it is a painful sacrifice to never eat either one). You can, too. But, I'm not going to curl into a ball beside your gluttonous screw-the-world-I-want-what-I-want resulting body if you do. Sadly, as a frequent flier, it happens all too often. I've complained. The only airline in the U.S. that I know of with an official policy that makes the doughnut-eaters take responsibility for their consumption of airplane seat real estate is Southwest (which they took some heat for in the press). I respect their choice, as it is really pro-customer, though the probably 1% of customers who eat themselves silly and can't fit in a seat don't see it that way. This world has GOT to stop expecting the 99% to accommodate the 1% that snivels most.

liquidity777 October 8, 2016

United's policy on this is v clear - see https://www.united.com/web/en-us/content/travel/specialneeds/extra-seating.aspx I stick a copy of this in with my travel documents when I fly United just in case cabin crew don't want to deal with the issue. Thankfully have never encountered spillover - not pleasant for anyone methinks. It's a shame more airlines aren't as clear.

ANC October 7, 2016

Seex2u: the seats are fine for 99% of the human world. I'm from the US. Just because 60% of our country over eats and doesn't exercise doesn't mean the rest of the world doesn't

vsevolod4 October 6, 2016

Most of the above commentary ignores the fact that this is being litigated in Italy, not the US. There are two sides to this issue an airlines are stuck balancing the comfort of the person next to an obese person with the rights of the obese person. The latter is at present a bit murky -- the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 2009 ADA Amendments Act have expanded the definition of a "disability" - morbid obesity clearly qualifies for protection, and the question of whether all obese people are disabled is currently being litigated. To date, airlines have been able to use the common-sense approach of making sure people fit with armrests down and if not, if the flight is full, giving the overweight passenger the option of taking a later flight or buying a discounted second seat, seems fair. But that will go out the window if regulation or case law rules that overweight passengers must be accommodated without extra cost. If this happens in the US, then I think it would wind up being handled similarly to the way it does in Canada, wherer morbid obesity is treated as a medical condition. Air Canada, for one, provides special accommodation free of charge for passengers with special needs (just like with quadriplegia or other conditions) -- you need to provide this 48 or 72 hours in advance depending on destination, and you need a doctor's note. Obesity is one of the conditions where the doctor's note doesn't have to be obtained every time you fly but you can have "long-term medical approval." (http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/before/specialneeds_medical.html#how_when) PS BrianGrant makes an observational generalization which is rather incorrect; Japanese people have also gotten markedly bigger in the past 2 generations; next time in Japan, compare different generations; 20 somethings are taller and wider than 40 somethings who are taller and wider than 60 somethings by a significant amount. Japanese people were smaller to begin with when they started growing into more of their potential thanks to nutrition (average Japanese from 1900 to 1950 was 5'2", 114lbs, average height and in 2014 was 5'8", 152lbs), so while they are, on average, smaller than Caucasians, their physical growth is well-documented (you can google-translate the official stats from the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs Communications Bureau: www.e-stat.go.jp/SG1/estat/List.do?bid=000001014499& and if you have never seen a fat Japanese person you've never watched Sumo Wrestling.

m44 October 6, 2016

"In narrow body planes the width of planes and seats have not changed" - interesting but wrong. The narrow body airplanes changed from 2+2 seats into 2+3 seats. The former 2+3 changed into 3+3. Not to mention adding more rows.