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Woman crushed by obese plane passenger

[Posted: Wed 23/10/2002 www.irishhealth.com]

By Deborah Condon

An airline has had to pay a female passenger over $20,000 in compensation, after she was crushed by an obese person sitting next to her during an 11-hour flight.

Virgin Atlantic paid Barbara Hewson from Swansea in Wales the compensation almost two years after the flight, after failing to initially take the complaint seriously.

The obese passenger had to lift the armrest which separates seats in order to be able to fit into her economy seat. However this meant some of her body weight was weighing down on Ms Hewson.

Ms Hewson, who was travelling to Los Angeles, had to be admitted to hospital on her arrival. Her injuries included a blood clot in her chest and torn leg muscles. She still suffers pain and requires a walking stick today.

She had complained to the cabin crew at the time, but was told that the flight was full and no other seats were free. After making repeated complaints over the next 18 months, Ms Hewson was examined by the airline's doctors to prove the extent of her injuries.

Following this, Virgin agreed to a settlement of just over $20,000 (€20,400) and issued an apology.

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  Anonymous   Posted: 23/10/2002 16:02
Airplane seats do not allow any kind of comfort for anyone bigger than a dress size 14 anyway - I think it is disgraceful that airlines expect passengers to squash themselves into their tiny seats for so long. I recently returned from LA to Dublin (11hrs) and being a size 18 it was extremely uncomfortable, I had a large briuse and scrapes from the headphone controls (which are on the inside of the armrest) due to turbulence and getting in and out of my seat. The woman beside me was a size 16 and she had the same problems. Disgraceful!
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 27/10/2002 00:06
I agree seats far too small on airlines.Last Sept.I travelled from Dublin to Reus in Spain with Scandanivian Airline and the space between seats was excellent with plenty of leg room for all Sizes.
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 30/10/2002 09:03
Many more actions against airlines are needed to protest against being treated like baggage. Irish airlines are amongst the worst in terms of space allowed.Also they claim to allow children in arms free while in reality it is the passenger next to them that pays the price.
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 30/10/2002 10:02
A further aggravation is that of allowing people to put their seats back so that they intrude into the faces of the people behind. This is often done on a whim with no regard to the fact thet the person behind may have a cup of coffee in hand or whatever, and certainly without any suggestion of asking permission. Fine if you're travelling first class with plenty of space between the seats, not so for cahrters or regular flights
 
  Angie(angieq)  Posted: 30/10/2002 13:09
the airlines have no consideration for its economy class passengers.More people should take them to task on this.
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 04/11/2002 08:33
Address the real problem - these people are too fat!! They weigh twice as much as everybody else and take up twice as much room - they should pay twice as much too! It is them and not the airlines that are being inconsiderate.
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 20/11/2002 15:20
Admittedly there could be more leg room for passengers on planes. however, if you are fit and healthy there shouldn't be a major problem bar a few cramps from inactivity at the end of the flight. a problem does arise when obese people avail of air travel and i think were there to be a successful action against airlines to facilitate " fuller figured " travelers it would send out a wrong message, that we condone obesity. obesity is a serious disease which is readily treatable with exercise, diet and drugs where necessary. just look at the recent PROSPER study published by Dr. Murphy from UCC. the problem lies not with the plane, but with the passenger.
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 25/11/2002 06:19
My Husband has suffered for yrs. with a left knee problem. On a recent flight to Spain with cramped seating arrangement he has returned with problems to both knees. What should I do?
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 12/12/2002 16:01
admittedly there is a problem with the space allotted for each passenger which should be addressed, however it is unfair the other passenger have to suffer sitting next to an obese person. If they encroach on your sit they should pay for 2 seats. After all you have paid for your seat yet you can not avail of it due to someone elses fat encroaching on your space. There nothing worse then sitting on a plan next to a fat person. Either loss the weight or pay for the seats you take up.
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 03/01/2003 14:59
the world is full of different people sizes race etc people do not need to accomodate airlines but it is the other way round airlines need to accomodate people just because you are overweight doesnt mean you are not entitled to comfort like your thin colleagues. Me personally I am a disabled person and I find travelling by airlines a nightmare you have to walk for miles then you are cramped into seats that really are only fit for children. What happens if you are tall and thin would you not require extra leg space or perhaps like some of the previous commentators they should go in for leg shortenings. It is certainly up to the airlines to accomodate all types of people
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 28/01/2003 15:11
If I were sitting next to this person, I would have REFUSED to let the arm-rest be lifted. The arm rest sets out the parameter for my space. If you\'re big enough not to fit into a seat (I\'m not talking about legroom by the way) then you SHOULD PAY FOR TWO SEATS - NOT EXPECT SOME OTHER TRAVELLER TO SUFFER. In this instance I think the airline staff were clearly in the wrong.
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 18/08/2003 23:07
I'm a size 18, and 15 and a half stone. I consider myself quite large, yet I don't seem to have the problem of spilling over into the next persons seat. I would have refused to be seated beside someone who basically was taking up a seat I have paid for.
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 20/02/2005 17:52
size should not be a disadvantage when you travel! with anorexia and bulemia now major problems with young people is it not giving the message,if your fat, you can't travel, have fun etc. people's differences should be catered for after all airlines make enough profit to acomadate passengers comfortably. I think it's disgusting some of the comments made here re.people's size. Are overweight people the next grouping to be marginalised and discriminated against in our society. Is Irish society that sick!
 
  Jenny(XPI28945)  Posted: 20/05/2005 16:15
Before I start I would like to state that I have nothing against those who are overweight, especially if it is due to medical condition, I just have something against the lazyness of people who don't take regular exercise and those who don't care what crap they shove down their throats. If you take up more than one seat you shoud pay for that extra seat, unless you are suffering from a condition that means you are not in control of your weight. It makes me SICK thinking about how many people could be as thin as they please, but instead choose to shove crap down their throats resulting in an abnormal amount of excess fat. If a mother has to pay for a toddler who is going to sit on their lap, those who cannot fit in one seat should have to pay for the extra seat they take up, meaning that nobody gets crushed and the airline gets the money they would if they had two thin people sitting there. If you think about this as an example... - 1 obese person on two seats = 1500 - 2 thin people on two seats = 3000 Why should the airline loose money because people cannot feed themselves and are too lazy to do the 1 hour exercise they should have a day. Planes of course could be made bigger. Though this is unneconomical and will not happen, due to the fact that obese people account for a very small percentage of the population. bigger seats = fewer seats = more expensive seats to run the airline (paying for petrol and a profit) Why should those who take care of themselves and don't cost the airline extra money have to pay extra for a seat they wont even take up half of and petrol to carry weight they don't have, just because the small number of people in this world don't care for their bodies why should the majority of this world who do take care of themselves have to suffer. Those of normal weight have done nothing wrong if you find the seats uncomfortable, EXERCISE AND EAT HEALTHILY.
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 23/05/2005 17:53
Wow, Jenny you sure have one big hang up re: weight. I work with people who have poor self image and starve themselves to conform to what society deems as 'aceptable' . The lack of tolerance,acceptance of ' difference'allowing people to be individual, is sadly lacking in your tirade.Yes as a nation we are heavier and unfit, yes we should do something about it.But failing to see the person,remembering they have feelings and looking upon them with disgust say's more about you.
 
  Jenny(XPI28945)  Posted: 25/05/2005 17:04
Oh.... I have nothing against weight, one of my closest friends is obese and my dad used to be. I didnt intend to come across as someone with a problem about other peoples weight but I just have particular veiwpoints on this particular case. I'm sorry if I seemed unaccepting and I certainly didn't meen to.
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 20/06/2005 06:15
I think those of you who claim that obesity is the result of throwing too much food down one's throat are narrow minded, disgraceful, and decidedly un-Christian. I suffer from hypothyroidism, pituitary tumor, and endocrine abnormalities. As a result of these disorders, my once trim attractive figure was distorted in only three months time when I put on 60 pounds. At the age of 28, this was a lot to deal with, and the rude comments of others certainly didn't help me. I have a difficult time now with activities I used to enjoy and "fitting into" tiny spaces. I am on medication for these disorders, but they often take time to heal and often are not 100% curable. To condemn someone for too much weight is just wrong. We say it's politically incorrect to discriminate on the basis of color, religion, or origin, yet many of you are willing to cast a stone at those who may not be able to help their weight condition. Maybe before you all assume someone who is obese is slovenly or can't control their eating habits, you might want to think again. Weight is often something a person cannot help any more than being female, short, or diabetic.
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 20/06/2005 17:05
I too know people who have become obese due to medication. I agree people are often too quick to condemn and judge \'anyone who is overweight\'as being lazy,and greedy unable to control their eating.This is simply more of the sterotypical crap being bandied about we have heard it in regard to colour,nationality,religion,and now \'surprise\' surprise\' we now have it re; weight. so much for the individual!or should I say so much for people who perpetuate the myths.
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 21/06/2005 20:24
This comment is in response to the commentor who claims she is a "size 18 and weighs 15 stone" who would have "refused to sit" next to the obese person. Dear person, this is truly the pot calling the kettle... Have you ever considered that two people of the same size may carry their weight differently? Abdominal obesity is vastly different than hip/thigh obesity. What may seem roomy to you (and I suspect that you are fooling yourself into thinking you "fit into" the seats to "fit into" society's ideal figure), may be uncomfortable or even painful to someone else. Let's think about this, folks. Over 60% of the US alone is overweight or obese. What's going to happen to seating, bathroom facilities, etc. when this number grows? Let's call it as we see it...airplane seats are too small so airlines can make more money. Cram as many people in as they can, like sardines in a tin, and the money rolls in. Accomodate everyone, REGARDLESS of size, and their profit shares go down. How long must this sandbox bully mentality about larger than average people continue before the world sees someone for the quality of their heart, and not the content of their jeans?
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 12/09/2005 15:14
I can't believe the ignorance of more than half of the people writing here. Who the hell do you think you are to suggest that fat people need to prove the cause of their weight before they can be deemed acceptably fat? How dare you. There should be larger seats on all planes for EVERYbody's comfort. Don't worry about he airlines, they're making a mint off us anyway. I would agree that no passenger should suffer as a result of the special requirements of their neighbour, but what I am reading here is nothing short of discrimination.
 
  Ross(SYK70324)  Posted: 09/04/2008 07:46
Someone in this thread asked "how would a tall person feel when they dont have enough leg room." I don't know why you are beginning to compare this with obese people. Humans as a species are getting taller. We're not getting obese through evolution but through poorer eating habits, easily available fast food, etc. One of my friends once had an argument with the airlines staff when asked to pay for overweight bags. She argued that, why should she be asked to pay for overweight bags when obese people don't pay any extra for their additional weight. This woman is like a size 10 -12, excercises regulary and I totally agree with her. Why limit and impose penalties on baggage when not prepared to limit or penalise on extremely overweight people. Not to mention they take up more than there own chair. I recently had to put up with sitting next to an overweight couple, (thankfully i wasn't in the middle of them !) on a 28 hour journey from Europe to Australia. The guys buttocks and stomach were taking up part of my chair. Extremely annoying. I get that some people may be overweight due to illness, etc.
 
  Anonymous   Posted: 10/04/2008 01:10
This is just ridiculous. All right, it might be annoying to be squashed slightly on a plane ride. But charging an overweight person extra is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard of in my life. Suppose the person next to you has body odor. Should there be a surcharge for the offense to your nose? What if the person next to you has a cough/cold? Charge them double for infringing on your "germ free" zone? Anyone could say they are infringed upon by ANYTHING from another passenger. It doesn't mean that any one person should pay more than any other. As EVOLVED human beings, we're supposed to believe in and advocate tolerance and equality, regardless of gender, religion, color, and SIZE. Does someone with, say, hypothyroidism have to carry a tag stating, "Forgive me my overweight, but it's medical," and then other passengers may excuse him/her with a "There but for the grace of God," nod while simultaneously hating someone who is overweight because they eat more? Just as someone can be racist, he can also be "fattist"--i.e., hating someone heavier than he. Airplane seats are tiny because airlines like to make as much money as possible by cramming people in tightly. Redesign the seats and accomodate everyone. To carp and whine about someone's hip and buttock fat encroaching upon you on a flight is petulant, peevish, immature, and silly. Grow up already. And yes, obesity is an epidemic, but until each obese individual decides to change his/her own lifestyle and health, that doesn't mean each overweight person should be monetarily and socially penalized.
 
  Da Don  Posted: 10/04/2008 12:02
Anonymous if a person is so fat that they take up 2 seats then they SHOULD be charged for 2 seats. Excess luggage is charged by the kilo why not excess flab? Have you ever had the misfortune of sitting beside a very obese person? I have, on a bus, and it's not pleasant. My entire right leg was covered by this womans belly invading my personal space. Horrid!
 
  Lemmy  Posted: 10/04/2008 14:19
actually, I'd rather be sitting beside an obese person than somebody with bad B.O.
 
  Da Don  Posted: 10/04/2008 16:57
I'd prefer to sit by neither. If said obese person is not infringing on my own space then I have no problem with them. But if they're taking up half of my seat as well as their own then I have an issue with it.
 
  Vero  Posted: 27/11/2008 15:35

Hello, I thought I would reitirate, in the words of one anonymous contributor to this page, all my feelings about people with weight issue. That person (it's a shame she/he is only "anonymous") took the words right out of my mouth. I hope she/he will forgive me for using her posting, but I thought it would benefit a lot of people to read these words (maybe "again" for some). So here they are, please read carefully:

"I think those of you who claim that obesity is the result of throwing too much food down one's throat are narrow minded, disgraceful, and decidedly un-Christian. I suffer from hypothyroidism, pituitary tumor, and endocrine abnormalities. As a result of these disorders, my once trim attractive figure was distorted in only three months time when I put on 60 pounds. At the age of 28, this was a lot to deal with, and the rude comments of others certainly didn't help me. I have a difficult time now with activities I used to enjoy and "fitting into" tiny spaces. I am on medication for these disorders, but they often take time to heal and often are not 100% curable. To condemn someone for too much weight is just wrong. We say it's politically incorrect to discriminate on the basis of color, religion, or origin, yet many of you are willing to cast a stone at those who may not be able to help their weight condition. Maybe before you all assume someone who is obese is slovenly or can't control their eating habits, you might want to think again. Weight is often something a person cannot help any more than being female, short, or diabetic. "

 
  Patricia  Posted: 17/02/2009 16:07

Yes, Vero, there are people like you who do have a disorder or health condition causing obesity. And I can imagine how difficult that must be.

However, unlike you, the vast majority of the obese get that way from eating too much, and particularly too much of the wrong thing. Often, there may be a psychological reason why such people eat too much: compensatory eating, general unhappiness, a host of reasons.

An example: daughter of a friend of mine is very overweight, she is a relatively young woman and she is working .

She has been to see a specialist and she has no medical condition or anything like that. I have been to the house many times, and dined with them. We all had a large dinner (and I do like my food so I had lots), and we had some cake to follow. I could not have faced second helpings. Well, she did, she piled up her plate again, and as for the cake, she went over to the counter and had a second huge slice.

All we could do was pretend not to notice, as she gets in a huff (her mother said) if even the kindest suggestion is made to maybe cut down on what is obviously needless intake.

Patricia

 
 
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