Air France Sued By 'Fat' Man Over Seat Row

December 20, 2006

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An overweight passenger has sued Air France after being told he was too fat and had to pay for a second seat to accommodate him.

Jean-Jacques Jauffret, a French scriptwriter, said on Wednesday he had felt humiliated by Air France staff who had measured his waist in public at New Delhi Airport in 2005 and decided he was too big for a single seat.

A lawyer representing Air France told a court on Tuesday the company had a clear policy of asking obese passengers to pay for two seats.

"Let's be objective. This man is fat," lawyer Fernand Gamault told the court in Bobigny, according to Le Parisien newspaper. "He barely fits on the courtroom chair. How could he sit in an airplane?"

Gamault was not available for comment but Jauffret confirmed the lawyer's comments and said he was denounced as "fat" and "enormous" on countless occasions during the hearing.

"I felt shocked and humiliated by what he said," Jauffret added.

Jauffret said he weighed more than 160 kilos (353 lb) and said he had flown numerous times, including on other Air France flights, without ever being asked to pay more.

Air France's web site urges overweight passengers to reserve a second seat, adding that failure to do so might mean they are refused access to an aircraft if it is fully booked.

Jauffret has asked for EUR8,000 (USD$10,580) in damages and EUR500 reimbursement for the cost of the additional ticket. A verdict in the case is due on February 20.