Too fat to fly: French family stranded in US

CHICAGO (AFP) - A French family who came to the United States (US) for medical treatment said they were stranded in Chicago after British Airways determined their son was too fat to fly.

Mr Kevin Chenais, 22, spent a year and a half at the Mayo Clinic for treatment of a hormone disorder which led him to weigh 227kg.

His mother was near tears as she described the family's problems to the local CBS affiliate.

"We blame British Airways because now they just leave us, and they brought us here," Ms Christina Chenais told the station.

"If they could bring him here with that problem in economy, there was a way to take him back by economy but just get him back home for his medical treatments to continue."

The family spent a week in an airport hotel trying to resolve the matter and, running out of money, has decided their only option is to take a train to New York and cross the Atlantic on the Queen Mary cruise ship.

Mr Kevin Chenais requires round-the-clock oxygen and medical attention.

"I'm sure a lot of big people like me or bigger cannot travel because they have the same problem," he told the station, head hanging down as he sat up in bed.

"This time before leaving I knew something would go wrong."

A British Airways spokesperson told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that its customer service team "worked diligently to find a solution".

"We will always try to accommodate someone if it's possible and safe to do so," Ms Caroline Titmuss wrote in an e-mail.

"Unfortunately, it is not possible to safely accommodate the customer on any of our aircraft and the family has been offered a full refund."

The airline said it provided hotel accommodation for the family along with "guidance and support" to help explore other travel options.

A spokesman for the French consulate told AFP it "attempted a mediation with British Airways, but the position of the airline is firm on the security issue." It has provided the family with the names of two lawyers who may be able to help.

The Chenais family did not immediately return requests for comment.