(AP) Too fat to fly: Stranded Frenchman’s ordeal ending
By DANICA KIRKA
He’s been turned down by planes, trains and even a cruise ship in his quest to return home — and his family says it’s because of he has been deemed too fat to travel. Now Frenchman Kevin Chenais’ long and fitful journey is coming to an end.
A ferry company accepted Chenais on Wednesday for a trip across the English Channel, one of the last obstacles to his homecoming in the French town of Ferney-Voltaire.
Chenais, who weighs 500 pounds (230 kilograms), says he has been repeatedly refused transport over the past two weeks as he sought to get home to France. P&O Ferries offered to take him in his ambulance aboard the Spirit of Britain on Wednesday, the final hurdle keeping him from his home near the Swiss border.
Chenais’ mother was outraged by the treatment her son allegedly received, saying he was discriminated against because of his weight.
The odyssey began when British Airways refused to honor his return ticket from the United States, where he had been receiving medical care for a hormone imbalance. BA acknowledges that it refused to let Chenais board the plane, but said confidentiality rules prevent it from saying why.
BA insisted that it does not discriminate against customers for any reason and that the airline provides the option of an extra seat to people who contact them with concerns about seat width.
Chenais said Carnival Cruises also rejected his request for a cabin on a trans-Atlantic voyage. The company declined to comment.
Virgin Atlantic airlines stepped in to fly him to London, where he had planned to take the Eurostar train home. But Eurostar refused to allow him on board because of safety rules governing travel through the Channel Tunnel: The high-speed train that connects England to France and Belgium requires all passengers to have the ability to be safely evacuated — and Chenais’ obesity-caused lack of mobility made that impossible.
Eurostar paid for the family’s hotel room and worked with P&O to find a solution.
Ben Jary contributed to this report.