Chicago AFP-JIJI

A French family who went to the United States for medical treatment said they were stranded in Chicago after British Airways determined their son is too fat to fly.

Kevin Chenais, 22, spent 18 months at the Mayo Clinic for treatment of a hormone disorder that led him to weigh 500 pounds (225 kg).

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,” 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.”

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.

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 from his bed. “This time before leaving I knew something would go wrong.”

Caroline Titmuss, a spokeswoman for British Airways, claimed its customer service team “worked diligently to find a solution.” She added: “We will always try to accommodate someone if it’s possible and safe to do so. 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.

The French Consulate attempted a mediation with British Airways and has provided the family with the names of two lawyers who may be able to help.

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