(ORANGE COUNTY, Calif.) — A California man was asked to leave an American Airlines flight because of his size.
Chris Shelley, an engineer from Huntington Beach, Calif., was flying from Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., on Nov. 20 when an airline employee approached him and demanded he exit the airplane after another passenger complained, Shelley told ABC News today.
Shelley, a frequent flyer of American Airlines, was already sitting in the middle seat when an elderly lady sat in the aisle seat next to him, Shelley said.
“She put her luggage away and sat down, and immediately started to squirm” before getting up from her seat, Shelley said.
Moments later, an airline employee, who Shelley believes was a gate agent, “abruptly” told him to grab his stuff and leave the plane because the elderly woman complained that he was “too big,” according to Shelley.
Shelley, who said he is not “overly obese” and has never had a problem fitting into an airplane seat before, asked to see the employee’s manager.
“They started to give my seat away so I asked if anybody bothered to ask the lady to switch seats with me,” Shelley said, adding that he was able to remain on the flight when the woman agreed to switch seats.
Shelley immediately filed a complaint and received three emails from the airline and a call from a customer service agent, he said, but none contained an apology from the employee, pilot or manager, which is what Shelley said he really wants.
A spokesperson for American Airlines told ABC News today that the airline is investigating what happened on-board and will “ensure similar circumstances are handled better in the future.”
The spokesperson added: “We apologize to Mr. Shelley for his experience on a recent flight with us. We always aim to give our all of our customers the best possible travel experience and we fell short of that with Mr. Shelley while trying to accommodate another passenger.”
Shelley said he may stop flying with American Airlines after the incident.
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