Obese traveler dies awaiting plane big enough to fly home
NEW YORK — A hugely obese New York woman visiting her native Hungary died while trying to find a plane to fly her home, and her family is reportedly suing airlines that had balked, citing her size.
Janos Soltesz and his wife Vilma, an ill woman from the Bronx, visited their native Hungary but could not get back in October when Delta and KLM said that, at more than 400 pounds (180 kilos), she was too large to fit in a seat.
The Soltesz couple first tried to fly with KLM from Budapest, but were told to try a larger plane provided by KLM partner Delta in Prague, again with no success. She tried once more, this time with Lufthansa. But they, too, said it was impossible.
By the time a suitable plane had been found, nine days after her original flight, Vilma Soltesz, 56, had died, CBS reported.
Janos Soltesz is suing the airlines for $6 million, CBS reported.
“I think there’s something wrong,” New York attorney Peter Ronai told CBS. “They took on the responsibility to get her to Hungary. It’s their responsibility to get her back. I don’t understand how she makes it there but she can’t come back. It’s completely illogical to me.”
But Russel Cason, a spokesman for Delta, told AFP that KLM “was physically unable” to board Mrs. Soltesz on its flight in Budapest. The same problem occurred with Delta in Prague.
“Delta and KLM did everything possible to assist the family. When KLM was unable to safely board Mrs. Soltesz in Budapest, it was determined she might be able to fly on the larger Delta aircraft out of Prague, but unfortunately that was not the case,” Cason said.
“Our records indicate our Delta staff in Prague made repeated attempts for nearly an hour to board the customer, but they were unable to get her onboard the aircraft.”
“The question was the mobility of the passenger,” a spokesman for Lufthansa told Radaronline.
Ronai did not answer repeated requests for comment.