425-pound (192 kg) New York woman Vilma Soltesz loses her life in Hungary, after being refused a seat on a plane by three different airlines.
Every year, she and her husband Janos flew with the Delta and KLM airlines to Hungary, where they spent a month. Vilma was clinically obese, suffering from diabetes and a condition affecting her kidneys. She had lost one of her legs.
The 56-year-old usually booked three tickets via a travel agent, two for herself and one for her spouse. As they wanted to return to New York, where she was scheduled for treatment, her tickets with KLM Airlines were useless, as she wasn't allowed to fly.
Due to her large size, aircraft staff couldn't accommodate her for lack of a seat belt extension. “They tried to fit her into the back of the plane, but they didn’t have an extension to secure her,” Janos says.
KLM reps respond by explaining they would have put Mrs. Soltesz at risk had they seated her.
“It appeared on the passenger’s return that it was not physically possible for her to board the aircraft, despite every effort made by KLM to this end. A seat or belt extender did not offer a solution, either,” they argue, according to New York Post
The couple was redirected to Prague, where Delta could provide suitable accommodation for a disabled person. When they arrived, they were told the airline’s plastic wheelchair wasn't going to hold her, and using the sky-lift elevator was also out of the question.
They booked a flight with Lufthansa, on October 22, but faced a similar problem. This time they encountered a mobility issue, with the crew and the local fire department trying for 30 minutes to get her on board, and failing. As the pilot had to keep several other connections, she was ordered off the plane.
Vilma stayed in Hungary for another few days, during which time she became ill. She didn't consult a specialist there, as she wanted to continue with the course of treatment she had been pursuing. She eventually lost her life, due to kidney failure.
Husband Janos is filing a suit against the airlines, dubbing them partially responsible for her wife's death.
“This absolutely contributed to the cause of her death. They managed to get her over there and were obligated to get her home,” he claims.