Lawyer sues Emirates after 'enduring' nine-hour flight next to obese man

Italian lawyer Giorgio Destro (left), captured his predicament on the Emirates flight from Cape Town to Dubai by taking a selfie of his overweight seat neighbour (right) as evidence. Photo / Supplied
Italian lawyer Giorgio Destro (left), captured his predicament on the Emirates flight from Cape Town to Dubai by taking a selfie of his overweight seat neighbour (right) as evidence. Photo / Supplied

A disgruntled flyer is suing Emirates airline and claiming his nine-hour flight was "ruined" by an obese passenger seated next to him.

Giorgio Destro, a lawyer from Padua in northern Italy, claims the "spillover" caused by the person neighbouring his 29K window seat, made for a deeply uncomfortable journey from Cape Town to Dubai.

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According to an Italian newspaper, Destro is "gold member" flyer, but says Emirates wouldn't let him change seats and refused to offer an apology or any form of compensation, the Daily Mail reports.

Destro told Mattino Padova: "For nine hours, I had to stand in the aisle, sit on seats reserved for the cabin crew when they were free, and in the final phase of flight resign myself to suffer the 'spillover' of the passenger at my side."

He reportedly asked to be moved a few hours into the flight but was told it was fully booked.

Destro, who previously worked for the Italian Consulate in South Africa, captured his predicament by taking a selfie as evidence.

He is asking for €2,759.51 (NZ$4233.68) in compensation; €759.51 (NZ$1165.25) as a refund for the flight, and a further €2000 (NZ$3068) in damages.

An Emirates spokesperson told MailOnline Travel: "Emirates is unable to comment on this particular case as it is an ongoing legal matter."

The case hearing is scheduled for October 20th in Padua.

It's not the first time a passenger has escalated a complaint regarding an overweight flight companion.

Last July, interior designer James Andres Bassos took Etihad Airways to court in Queensland saying he was forced to twist and contort his body for long periods on a 2011 flight from Sydney to Dubai.

Bassos' District Court claim — which sought $227,000 (NZ$310,506) — stated that the "grossly overweight" passenger was spilling into his seat and coughing frequently.

Etihad tried to have the claim thrown out and argued it was not unusual to have overweight passengers taking up too much space, or coughing passengers.

However, District Court Judge Fleur Kingham refused to strike out the claim.

The outcome of this particular case was never publicly announced.

Another passenger who found himself in a similar predicament — this time with budget Australian airline Jetstar in 2013 — simply penned a furious letter, which promptly went viral.

Traveller Rich Wisken wrote on a blog that he paid an extra A$25 (NZ$26) for an exit row seat, expecting to travel from Perth to Sydney with more room than a normal economy seat.

But he found himself seated beside an obese man, leaving him to feel that he was pinned to his seat "by a fleshy boulder".

On receiving his angry but humorous letter of complaint, Jetstar emailed him with an offer of a A$100 (NZ$105) voucher in compensation, Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported.

- Daily Mail

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