While it’s hard to point the finger in the death of Vilma Soltesz, who was denied entry onto three airplanes as a result of her weight, the whole situation raises undeniable questions about the accessibility of flying in today’s day and age.
The controversy unfolded when Soltesz, an American citizen, wanted to get back to the US in October to see her doctors after she developed complications as a result of her kidney disease while visiting her summer home in Hungary.
After attempting to book flights back to the US on three different airlines and being refused by each one, Soltesz died in Hungary of kidney failure. Her husband’s $6 million lawsuit raises questions as to where the responsibility lies.
It was completely reasonable for Soltesz to want to return home to seek treatment for her condition from doctors that knew her condition well. However, it’s unclear with current reports of the story how far in advance the Soltesz’ tried to make accommodations for the flight.
The airlines ultimately have a duty to the safety of all passengers on board. If they were unable to seat Soltesz on the given aircraft as a result of her weight in a way that could guarantee both her safety and the safety of the other passengers on board, they did the right thing by denying her a flight.
While Soltesz’ lawyer argues that the airline that had brought her to Hungary initially — KLM — had a duty to accommodate her flight both ways, this isn’t sound reasoning. Every aircraft is different, regardless of what company it’s affiliated with. Ultimately, it’s at the discretion of the captain to determine what is safest for all passengers on board.
It isn’t clear who should carry the blame in this situation — what is certain is that situations such as this one should be better dealt with in the future so tragedies such as the Solteszs’ can be avoided.
— Journal Editorial Board
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