A British Airways customer is suing the airline for damages of up to £10,000 after he was allegedly sat next to an obese man “the size of Jonah Lomu”.
Stephen Prosser from Penygraig, South Wales, claims he suffered injuries after being “forced into a position of unnatural posture” by the hulking passenger for the entirety of a 12-hour flight from Bangkok to Heathrow in January 2016.
The 51-year-old civil engineer told Pontypridd County Court the passenger was so large that “when he placed his arm down at times it would rest on my armrest and he would accidentally turn the volume of my audio.”
“I sat with his knees wedged against the seat in front and the rest of his body was over spilling into my seat by some inches,” Mr Prosser said.
”I was immediately aware that this was going to be problematic for me and I could feel the weight of his pure bulk putting lateral pressure on my upper body.”
Mr Prosser told the court that he chose not to take issue with the passenger because he seemed “self-conscious”.
He said that he instead flagged his concerns with cabin crew, who allegedly told him there were no other seats available on the plane and did not allow him to swap with another passenger.
He claims the incident left him with a continual back spasm and an injury to his sacroiliac joint at the bottom of his spine for the following three months.
The 5ft 3in company director is now seeking damages and the loss of earnings he claims he experienced after being unable to work.
But, British Airways has rejected Mr Prosser’s claims--stating he “did not display any signs of injury” when leaving the flight.
Chris McLindon, the customer service manager on board the flight, said in a witness statement that Mr Prosser did not seem to be in any discomfort and “at times he was asleep”.
Jack Harding, representing British Airways, said Mr Prosser was “exaggerating” by comparing the other passenger to late New Zealand rugby legend Jonah Lomu, who was 6ft 4in and weighed 19 stone.
Mr Harding said: “You say the man reminded you of the late rugby player Jonah Lomu. Would you say that’s a colourful explanation? An exaggeration?”
Mr Prosser replied: “Not at all.”
The hearing continues.
Additional reporting from PA