Crackdowns on security are an expected and accepted part of air travel post 9-11. But it was fat cells, not terror cells, that led to a man being unceremoniously removed from an American Airlines flight last Friday.
Chris Shelley is a frequent flyer, logging more than 100,000 miles a year. The Huntington Beach engineer is also a burly, but not morbidly obese, former Marine.
So he was understandably taken aback when an employee with the airline abruptly told him to gather his belongings and get off the plane.
“He turns to me and says, ‘Sir, you need to take your things from the plane immediately and come with me.’ ”
The reason? As CBS Los Angeles reported, the petite elderly woman seated beside him complained that he was too fat.
“They told me that anyone over two inches in the seat, cannot sit on the aircraft,” he told the station.
“The worst part was being treated as if I was some sort of criminal. Not only a criminal, but a fat criminal.”
Shelley further alleged that no one from the airline offered a solution, and it was only after he begged them to ask the complainant to switch seats that he was allowed back on the plane.
A spokesperson with American Airlines told CBS that the company has launched an investigation and sent Shelley two email apologies.
Canadian airlines, like Air Canada, take a much friendlier approach.
According to the airline’s website, obese customers can request an extra seat free of charge on many flights. You’ll need to
fill out some forms first and it doesn’t apply in business class.
In 2013, Samoa Air became the first airline to charge passengers by body weight.
The airline’s website, which is currently under construction, states: Welcome to Samoa Air, “where you pay by weight.”