NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 10:18 PM
A former Marine was kicked off a flight after being told he was too big to fly.
Chris Shelley was on an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Orange County, Calif. on Nov. 20, when an elderly woman boarded the flight and sat next to him.
Within a couple of seconds, she stood up and went to the front of the plane to complain to the staff, the mechanical engineer told the Daily News.
A flight attendant told the 50-year-old passenger he needed to leave the plane immediately. He told Shelley anyone who exceeded two inches of the seat limits had to get off the flight, the passenger recalled.
Chris Shelley says American Airlines kicked him off a domestic flight after another customer complained he was taking up too much space.
Shelley, who was a Marine for 10 years, said he was built like a “middle linebacker,” weighing 250 pounds and standing at 6 feet tall.
“I was humiliated. I was embarrassed. I felt disgusted, like I was treated like a criminal,” he told the Daily News. “They insinuated there was some big, giant, ugly troll on the plane.”
Shelley said he was shocked because he’s taken thousands of flights over the last seven years and never experienced this issue. The engineer said he takes flights twice a week each year, traveling for his job, and is close to reaching his 1 millionth frequent flyer mile.
He was even more insulted because he had actually lost 70 pounds in the last two years, and didn’t receive complaints when he was heavier.
The airline apologized to him and offered him 10,000 frequent flyer miles. Shelley did not accept it.
He was finally let back on the flight after suggesting to switch seats with the woman, which she agreed to.
A flight attendant also gave him a free cocktail during the flight, he recalled.
Martha Thomas, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, said the airline apologized to Shelley and were investigating the incident to make sure it didn’t happen again to other passengers.
“We always aim to give all of our customers the best possible travel experience and we fell short of that with Mr. Shelley while trying to accommodate another passenger,” she said.
Shelley said he received three apologies from the airline, but would not accept them. He was insulted they gave him 10,000 frequent flyer miles, especially because it was only “one-fifth of what you get when you sign up for a credit card.”
He requested for a signed apology from the flight’s pilot, the flight attendant and the gate manager, who he felt insulted him.
He also requested indication that he wouldn’t be placed on a flight watch list, marked with a “B for Big,” he said.
He’s worried because he’ll be returning for another American Airlines flight on Monday in the same seat. He also has another flight the following Monday, and the next week as well.
“I fly a lot, and I’ve never, never been treated like that,” he said.