IS THERE A SOLUTION Traveller squashed by obese seatmates

Posted on 05/10/2017 | About Toronto, Ontario

Sometimes there is no immediate solution. An Australian passenger is seeking hefty compensation from American Airlines after being 'squashed between two 'grossly obese' fliers on a 14-hour flight from Sydney to Los Angeles.

Michael Anthony Taylor, 67, is seeking A$100,000 (about $100,980) for the uncomfortable flight which exacerbated his pre-existing scoliosis, and caused back and neck injuries.

He said he spent most of the flight 'crouching, kneeling, bracing or standing.'

"I don't hold any malice towards the people in the seats next to me — they'd paid for a ticket too," he told the Daily Telegraph.

"The airline could have put me in a crew seat or moved people around, but they did nothing," he said, adding that he asked to be moved on numerous occasions.

However, under US federal regulations, passengers are not permitted to sit in crew jump seats and the flight which took place in December 2015 was fully booked.

“This lawsuit could have been avoided in the first place onboard the flight by Michael being moved to a different seat or re-booked onto a later flight," said Taylor's legal rep Thomas Janson. Except that there were no other seats – if Taylor had made the problem apparent as soon as he boarded then yes, he could perhaps have been moved. Once the flight was in the air he was pretty well trapped by the circumstances.

“Airline insurers will almost certainly force airlines to re-evaluate how and where they seat passengers and whether there needs to be a complete overhaul of the interiors of airline cabins in order to prevent similar claims,” Janson said.

And that of course is true. As the population grows larger and larger, airline seats seem to grow correspondingly smaller, so if as Taylor was, you are trapped between two oversized seatmates you are in for a long uncomfortable journey.

The gate agents or flight attendants should have spotted the potential problem before or at boarding and steps been taken then – but almost certainly – even if the passengers had either been required to purchase the extra seat, or they (or Taylor) were bumped – we’d be writing an ‘obese passenger bumped from flight’ article.

Sometimes the airlines can’t win.