Society

Too Fat To Fly? Airline Apologizes To Former Marine For Booting Him From Flight

| by Nik Bonopartis
Chris Shelley, who is 6 feet tall and 250 pounds, says he was kicked off a flight because of his weight.Chris Shelley, who is 6 feet tall and 250 pounds, says he was kicked off a flight because of his weight.

American Airlines has apologized to a California man for kicking him off -- then allowing him back on -- a flight from Dallas to Orange County because he's too big.

Chris Shelley, 50, told the New York Daily News that he was already seated on the Nov. 20 flight when an elderly woman boarded, sat down next to him, then went to the front of the cabin to complain to the crew.

A flight attendant told Shelley he had to leave the plane.

"I was humiliated. I was embarrassed. I felt disgusted, like I was treated like a criminal," he told the Daily News. "They insinuated there was some big, giant, ugly troll on the plane."

After the initial drama, the crew allowed Shelley to remain on the flight after he offered to switch seats with the woman who complained. American Airlines apologized to Shelley and offered him 10,000 frequent flyer miles, but the California man said he wants a written apology from the crew and proof that he won't be marked on a flight watch list because of his weight.

The 6 foot, 250 pound Shelley said he flies twice a week for his job as an engineer, and has never run into trouble before, but told the Daily News he has two upcoming flights, and wants to make sure he isn't treated poorly when he boards those planes.

Shelley's experience is similar to 2010 incident, when Southwest Airlines removed director Kevin Smith from a flight, citing its "customers of size" policy. Smith took to Twitter to complain about the way he was treated, generating headlines and public discussion about whether it's appropriate to treat people differently because of their weight or size.

The director, known for movies like Clerk and Mallrats, poked fun at himself while criticizing Southwest.

"Hey @SouthwestAir Look how fat I am on your plane! Quick! Throw me off!" he joked on Twitter, posting a photo of himself seated on another flight.

The website airfarewatchdog tracks the "customers of size" policies for each airline, including additional costs for flyers who can't fit into dtandard 17-inch coach seats. Most airlines suggest "customers of size" purchase an additional seat, and policies vary on whether those customers get a discount on the second seat.

Sources: New York Daily News, airfarewatchdog, ABC News / Photo source: KIRO7 via New York Daily News