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
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