Black country

'Large' man removed from flight to see dying aunt

Sandy Russell
Image caption Mr Russell said he felt humiliated when asked to leave the flight

A man who wanted to fly to Canada to see his dying aunt says he was taken off the plane because he was too large.

Sandy Russell, from Wolverhampton, who weighs 32 stone, was asked to leave the Air Transat flight to Toronto because the arm-rest would not go down.

He was told he could travel on the next available flight from Gatwick but would have to pay for two seats.

Mr Russell did not travel and his aunt died two days later. Air Transat said he took up a third of the next seat.

Mr Russell said he asked if there were extra seats at check-in.

"I always ask, (at check-in) if it's a big flight, if there are any more seats that are available and she said it's a full flight."

The stewardess said she would look for another seat for him as he did not look comfortable, he said.

"She came back and said 'follow me' so I grabbed my hand luggage and she took me off the flight and said, basically, that I couldn't fly with them, that I was too big and that it was unfair for someone paying for a seat next to me not to get a full seat.

"I felt like a criminal or a terrorist or something... the emotion got too much for me and I broke down.

'Breach of rights'

"A lot of people are saying to me, well, you should have known before you went on, but I have never, ever had a problem with any airlines, until now.

"Airlines need to be sorted.

"They need to make it plain to people before they board... even when they are booking tickets... if you're a certain size, this may happen."

An Air Transat spokesman said: "We can't ask people their measurements before they book a flight - it's a breach of their human rights," a spokesman said.

"In this case, the arm-rest would not go down and separate Mr Russell from the lady beside him - and he was taking up more than a third of her seat."

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