An Italian man who “endured” nine hours next to an obese man on an international flight is to sue Emirates airlines for £2,375 – including damages.
Giorgio Destro, a lawyer from Padua in Northern Italy, says his flight was ruined by the ‘spillover’ from the man in the neighbouring seat, making for a ‘deeply uncomfortable journey’.
According to an Italian newspaper, Mr Destro, who is an Emirates ‘gold member’ flyer, says he asked flight attendants to change his seat, which was refused.
Mr Destro said: “For nine hours, I had to stand in the aisle, sit on seats reserved for cabin crew – when they were free – and in the final stages of the flight, resign myself to suffer the ‘spillover’ of the passenger at my side’.
He is now suing Emirates for €2,759.51 (£2,375.23) in compensation, €759.51 (£653.87) as a refund for the flight, and a further €2,000 (£1,721.81) in damages.
“I would argue that it is not reasonable to lose a large portion of your seat, leaving you in discomfort.
“The airline must meet any description of the flight that a consumer has relied upon. Interestingly the Emirates website says “Sit back in comfortable seats and enjoy the attention to detail that makes our flights unique.”
“If a consumer can show they’ve relied on this, then I would argue the standard has not been met where they are left in discomfort or indeed unable to sit for most of the flight.”
The case is not the first time a passenger has taken legal action against an airline regarding an overweight passenger. In 2015, a man sued Etihad Airways for £132,000, stating that the ‘grossly overweight’ passenger in the next seat had forced him to ‘twist and contort his body’ for long periods of the flight.
Etihad contested the claim, suggesting it was not unusual for overweight passengers to take up too much space. The outcome of the case was never made public.