The issue of airlines deeming passengers too fat to fly now has a tragic element. A sick Bronx woman recently died in Hungary after being repeatedly denied access to planes she'd been promised space on. "All we wanted was to come back home to get her treatment," the woman's husband of 33 years to the Post. Instead, Janos Soltesz's wife Vilma died in Hungary nine days and three plane rejections after she was supposed to have returned home.
It wasn't like Delta and KLM didn't know that Soltesz's weight was going to be a problem. The couple had flown to their Hungarian vacation home almost every year, including this year, and had in fact bought an extra seat for the 425-pound Vilma, who suffered from a combination of diabetes and kidney disease that already took a leg from her and left her wheelchair-bound.
After their regular vacation to Hungary the Solteszs planned to return to the States where Vilma could continue treatment with her longtime doctors. But instead things just kept going wrong. First KLM tried to get her onto the flight she'd originally bought a ticket for and decided they couldn't. "They didn’t have an extension to secure her," Vilma's husband Janos told the Post.
"It appeared on the passenger’s return that it was not physically possible for her to board the aircraft, despite every effort made by KLM to this end," a spokeswoman explained. "A seat or belt extender did not offer a solution, either."
And then it got worse! After waiting for five hours they were finally told they could get a flight out of Prague. So they drove to Prague where a Delta flight was supposed to be equipped for a handicapped person. But Delta's plastic wheelchair couldn't hold Vilma's weight, her husband says. Further, "After the operating carrier in Budapest was physically unable to board Mrs. Soltesz on its flight, and despite a determined good-faith effort by Delta in Prague, we were also physically unable to board her on our aircraft,” a Delta spokesman explained.
So the couple went back to their home to try and figure out what to do. Finally, they were told a Lufthansa flight could accommodate her, but it turned out to be too good to be true. "On the plane, the crew, with help from the local fire department, was unable to move her from her wheelchair to the three seats assigned to her." So after 30 minutes of trying the captain kicked the couple out of that flight, too. "We had 140 passengers on board, and they had connections and needed to travel," a Lufthansa spokesman explained.
Two days after their aborted Lufthansa flight, Vilma died. "She was very ill and did not trust that the hospitals in former communist Hungary could attend to her needs," the couple's lawyers explained. Vilma was buried in Hungary and her husband is considering a lawsuit. But also, he's just lonely. "There were only two women in my life — my mother, who I lived with for 23 years, and Vilma, who I lived with for 33 years," he told the Post. "I’m lonely now. Wherever I am going, I am just going alone."