Morbidly obese Frenchman Kevin Chenais unable to fly with BA or get train with Eurostar saved in journey home by cross-Channel ferry

Kevin Chenais, 22, breached safety regulations due to mobility issues

A morbidly obese man trying to get back to France from the US was told he could not fly on British Airways or take the train with Eurostar – but after Virgin Atlantic got him to Britain, Kevin Chenais was stuck again.

Now Mr Chenais is set to find his way home with a cross-Channel ferry.

P&O stepped in after it seemed like the 22-year-old’s complicated medical needs meant he might never make it back to his family in Ferney Voltaire, eastern France.

Mr Chenais has suffered from weight problems since he was six months old, and flew with BA to Minnesota for 18 months of treatment for hormone imbalance.

Yet it seemed he might be stuck there after the airline refused to carry him on his return ticket.

Eventually Virgin Atlantic was able to fly him to London. Mr Chenais, who reportedly weighs around 36 stone (230kg) and requires a mobility scooter, was quoted as saying: “The airport was very hard on me. I had to walk a long way.”

The French embassy arranged for the man to get a Paris-bound train, but he encountered more difficulties when Eurostar declined to transport him because of safety regulations.

Eurostar said: “This is a terrible situation. Our heart goes out to Mr Chenais and his family who are understandably desperate to return home after being stranded in America.

“Unfortunately, there was no question that he would have been able to travel with Eurostar as we must observe very strict safety rules which govern travel through the Channel Tunnel.

“Those provisions require that all passengers are able to be evacuated into the Channel Tunnel in the event of an emergency.

“As a consequence of Mr Chenais's immobility this would simply not have been possible and would have posed a safety risk to himself, our crew and all of the other passengers on board.

“We simply cannot ignore these safety regulations, nor would we want to.

“We have worked extremely hard to assist Mr Chenais and his family who were accommodated overnight in central London at our expense and we have been liaising with our various partners to help identify a solution and to get him home to France as quickly as possible.”

A P&O spokesman said: “We're delighted to help.

“It's not difficult for us.

“We are used to carrying ambulances across the Channel, so we are set up for this type of thing.

“It's difficult to imagine the frustration that this gentleman has gone through.

“But for us, it's very straight-forward as we are set up to carry people who have medical needs.”

A British Airways statement said: “We will always try to accommodate someone if it's possible and safe to do so.

“Our customer service team worked diligently to find a solution and have exhausted all options.

“Unfortunately it was not possible to safely accommodate the customer and the family has been offered a full refund.

“The British Airways team has been in regular contact with the family, providing guidance and support as well as exploring other options for travel.

“We have also provided hotel accommodation.”

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before