'Too fat to fly' Frenchman arrives home after ordeal

Mr Kevin Chenais sits in his mobility scooter in front of an ambulance at St Pancras in London, Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013. Mr Chenais, who had been stranded in the United States, returned home by ferry on Wednesday after a long ordeal du
Mr Kevin Chenais sits in his mobility scooter in front of an ambulance at St Pancras in London, Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013. Mr Chenais, who had been stranded in the United States, returned home by ferry on Wednesday after a long ordeal during which he was refused passage by an airline and by the Eurostar train. -- PHOTO: AP

LONDON (AFP) - A clinically obese Frenchman who had been stranded in the United States returned home by ferry on Wednesday after a long ordeal during which he was refused passage by an airline and by the Eurostar train.

Mr Kevin Chenais, 22, who weighs 230 kilograms due to a hormonal imbalance, arrived in the French port of Calais on a P&O ferry from Dover on the southeast coast of England, the ferry company said.

"He did travel as planned on the Spirit of Britain at 4:40 pm and the ship arrived in France on schedule," a P&O spokesman said.

From northeastern France, he will be taken to his home town of Ferney-Voltaire on the Swiss border.

Mr Chenais had been treated for his condition in the specialist Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, but he was stranded in the United States after British Airways deemed him too heavy to fly.

Then the owners of the Queen Mary 2 cruise liner also refused to transport him across the Atlantic.

Mr Chenais, who requires frequent oxygen and regular care, finally flew into London's Heathrow airport with his parents aboard a Virgin Atlantic flight on Tuesday.

He described his journey as "terrible, terrible, terrible".

But once on British soil, his ordeal continued after the Eurostar under-sea train service refused to transport him to France, citing safety concerns.

Mr Chenais and his parents spent Tuesday night in a hotel near the Eurostar terminal at London's St Pancras railway station paid for by the train company.

Eurostar said it had worked "ceaselessly to find an alternative solution".

It said it had to operate under "very strict safety rules" and that Mr Chenais' immobility meant he posed a safety risk "to himself, our crew and all of the other passengers on board".

With the help of French consular staff, Mr Chenais left London on Wednesday afternoon in an ambulance heading for Dover where he caught the ferry.

The P&O Ferries spokesman said: "We are used to carrying ambulances across the Channel, so we are set up for this type of thing.

"It's difficult to imagine the frustration that this gentleman has gone through. But for us, it's very straightforward as we are set up to carry people who have medical needs."