A Queensland man is suing an airline after he claimed he exacerbated a back injury during a flight from Abu Dhabi to Sydney.
But James Andres Bassos isn’t blaming the seat, or cabin, for the injury; instead, he is pointing the finger at Etihad Airways for not doing more to distance him from a coughing, obese man he says he was forced to sit next to during the lengthy flight.
According to his District Court claim, Mr Bassos was forced to twist and contort his body because the "grossly overweight" passenger was spilling into his seat, coughing a lot and had fluid coming from his mouth, AAP reported. By trying to avoid contact with the man, Mr Bassos says he exacerbated an existing back injury.
Although cabin crew allegedly refused his first request to be moved, about five hours in to flight, Mr Bassos was eventually relocated to a crew seat. However, he was apparently required to return to his seat for another hour, and again for the final 90 minutes of the flight for security reasons, court documents show.
According to AAP, Etihad wanted the claim to be thrown out, saying it was not unusual to have overweight passengers taking up too much space, or coughing passengers. But Brisbane District Court Judge Fleur Kingham refused to dismiss the claim, ordering him to undergo a medical exam in Brisbane in December.
In response, Etihad said in a statement it would continue to oppose the action, “and now that Mr Bassos will finally face a medical assessment in December 2015, as directed by court, we believe that the matter will proceed to an early conclusion”.
“The safety and comfort of Etihad Airways' passengers and crew is of paramount importance and the airline has a zero tolerance policy towards unruly behaviour,” the carrier said.
Would you blame an airline in this situation?