A traveler is suing an airline claiming that having to sit next to an “extremely large” fellow passenger on a 12-hour flight caused him to suffer injuries as well as a loss of income. Stephen Prosser, a 51-year-old tourist, claims that the airline ignored his assertions that remaining seated next to the passenger would cause him physical harm.
Prosser, a freelance civil engineer who hails from Penygraig, South Wales, is suing British Airways for forcing him to sit next to a male passenger, who he described as being 6-foot-4 and over 300 lbs, for approximately 12 hours in 2016. The flight in question was a route from Bangkok to London.
“He was that large that he had to force his buttocks between the armrests of the seats,” said Prosser, according to a report by CNN.
The other passenger sat “with his knees wedged against the seat in front, and the rest of his body was over spilling into my seat by some inches,” Prosser asserted.
“I was immediately aware that this was going to be problematic for me and I could feel the weight of his pure bulk putting lateral pressure on my upper body. This forced me into a position of unnatural posture.”
Prosser claims he suffered from a pelvic injury and nerve damage that resulted in continual back spasms, required two years of visits to a chiropractor, and created limitations on his ability to work for three months.
Prosser says he spoke with the British Airways crew regarding the issue, but that no other seats were available on the flight.
When asked in court whether he spoke with the other passenger directly, he stated that he “didn’t want to get into a confrontation with him,” noting that the passenger seemed “self-conscious.”
Timothy Salisbury, who is representing British Airways, claims Prosser is “exaggerating” the other passenger’s size, which Prosser compared to Jonah Lomu, the late New Zealand rugby player.
In a witness statement, Chris McLindon, the British Airways customer service manager who was on the aircraft, says that Prosser did not appear uncomfortable during the flight and that he was even asleep at times.
“I regularly walked down the aisle, and Mr. Prosser was not sat in an unnatural position for an economy seat,” said McLindon.
“When Mr. Prosser left the aircraft, I watched him walk down the jetty in a perfectly normal manner and showed no signs of injury.”
British Airways is resisting the claims made by Prosser but declined to comment on the matter when asked by the BBC.