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Too Fat To Travel - Turned Down by Planes, Trains and even Cruise Ships

Posted by MD on Thu 21st Nov, 2013 -

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 he has been deemed too fat to travel.

In his quest to return home to France after a medical treatment in US, Kevin Chenais was turned down by British Airways, he tried to cross the Atlantic on the cruise ship Queen Mary but had again been turned down before Virgin Atlantic stepped in and flew him across the Atlantic to London. In London, Eurostar train refused to transport him to France. A ferry company (P&O Ferries) stepped in to transport the 22-year-old Kevin Chenais across the English Channel. In France, Mr Chenais and his family are continuing their journey in an ambulance to their home in south-eastern France.

Now Frenchman Kevin Chenais' long and fitful journey is coming to an end.

Kebiv Chenais, who weighs 500 pounds (230 kilogrammes), said his ordeal began when he flew British Airways to the United States from France 18 months ago for treatment for his hormone disorder.

But when he tried to get home, British Airways refused to carry him on his return flight from Chicago because staff said his size made him unsafe to travel.

After a week in a hotel paid for by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic stepped in to fly him across the Atlantic to London.

But Mr Chenais, who uses a mobility scooter, then encountered more difficulties when trying to travel to France when Eurostar declined to transport him because of safety regulations.

It said it had to operate under "very strict safety rules" and that Mr Chenais' immobility meant he posed a safety risk "to himself, our crew and all of the other passengers on board".

Eurostar said: "Despite being unable to travel with us yesterday due to the very strict safety regulations governing evacuation from the Channel Tunnel in the event of an emergency, we have nonetheless worked tirelessly over the past 24 hours to identify an alternative solution.

"Having arranged overnight accommodation in central London for Mr Chenais and his family, we contacted P&O last night to request their assistance arranging passage across the Channel."

The P&O Ferries spokesman said: "It's difficult to imagine the frustration that this gentleman has gone through. But for us, it's very straightforward as we are set up to carry people who have medical needs."

But the Frenchman said the airline's explanation was not good enough:

He said: “I’m sure a lot of big people like me or bigger cannot travel because they have the same problem.

“This time before leaving I knew something would go wrong.”

Earlier this year, Samoa Air became the first airline to start charging passengers by their weight.

Customers are asked to enter their details, including the weight of passengers, and the fare is calculated accordingly.

They are then weighed at the airport to ensure they have paid the correct amount.

"It's terrible. It's discrimination. It was very hard, tiring and a big waste of money for my parents," the 22-year-old told RTL radio on Wednesday.

Chenais' mother was outraged by the treatment her son allegedly received, saying he was discriminated against because of his weight.

"It's not the fault of my son to be big. He has a genetic illness," Christina Chenais said. "We are very happy to go home after this long, distressing and traumatic situation."

The ferry company took Chenais and his family across the English Channel late Wednesday to Calais. From there, the family was driving to the French town of Ferney-Voltaire, 740 kilometres (460 miles) to the southeast.

"I am waiting to see my sisters and the other people in my family," Chenais told RTL radio. "I couldn't have imagined this for us."

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