An ex-marine is accusing American Airlines of size discrimination, after he was required to leave the plane due to being considered too overweight.
On Friday, November 20, Chris Shelley, from Huntington Beach, Orange County, boarded an American Airlines flight, which was supposed to take him from Dallas, back to John Wayne Airport, in Orange City.
The 50-year old man, who currently works as an engineer, had been assigned the middle seat, right next to an ageing petite woman, who had been given the aisle seat.
Shelley could tell that his fellow passenger had been unhappy having him as her seat mate, since she had begun fretting nervously. Soon afterwards, he saw her get up and head to the front of the plane.
It didn’t take long for the woman to return with an American Airlines gate agent, who asked the retired marine to take his belongings, and deplane at once.
Shelley was struck with consternation at having received such a command, but afterwards was told that his body covered two extra inches beyond his own seat, and as a result he could not be allowed to take the flight anymore.
The middle-aged man, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 10 years, admits that he’s built like a linebacker, being around 6 feet tall and weighing approximately 250 pounds.
As the veteran explains, he was about to be kicked off the plane due to his built, and the flight’s crew had been completely reluctant to offer any solution so that he could continue his journey.
Even worse, the airline employee specifically told him that there had been complaints that he was simply “too big” to occupy that seat, and added insult to injury by providing him with a seatbelt extender.
Eventually, after pleading with the passenger who had initially moaned about him to simply switch seats, the woman accepted, and that’s how he was allowed back on board, and was able to finally arrive at his destination.
Shelley normally travels over 100,000 miles per year, and will soon earn 1 million frequent flier miles. In fact, he has been using American Airlines more than 80 times a year for businesses purposes.
However, he had never experienced this type of unfair treatment before, even though a couple of years ago he actually weighed around 70 pounds more.
According to him, the plane’s crew behaved unkindly towards him, as if he was a “fat criminal”, and it has been extremely embarrassing and upsetting to be subjected to such ridicule and discrimination just because he is somewhat overweight.
As a result, he has written a complaint and filed it with American Airlines, so as to detail his nerve-racking experience.
Meanwhile, airline representatives have extended their apologies to the disgruntled customer on 3 occasions, and offered him 10,000 frequent flyer miles, but Shelley isn’t too gratified with these excuses.
What he claims now is that the spokesperson has more or less admitted that employees can do as they please, no matter how regrettable their behavior might be.
As a result, he is seeking written apologies from the flight’s gate manager, pilot and attendant, as well as assurances that he won’t be added to a no-fly watch list, especially now that he has another flight scheduled on Monday with the same airline carrier.
In another statement issued for Eyewitness News, American Airlines officials have once again apologized to the passenger, insisting that the crew had simply tried to accommodate the man’s seatmate.
They have also began an inquest to find out exactly how the incident unfolded, and to identify the accountable parties, so that such situations can be avoided from now on.
Image Source: Kiro TV