Sick, Obese Woman Dies After Airlines Turn Her Away

Tayla Holman

New York, NY -- A Bronx woman died of kidney failure in Budapest after airline officials denied her from three flights home because she was obese.

Vilma and Janos Soltesz visited their native country, Hungary, on September 17 to spend time at a vacation home they owned in the countryside.

They planned to return to New York on October 15 so 56-year-old Vilma could resume treatment for kidney disease and diabetes. However, they were told Vilma couldn't be accommodated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Janos Soltesz said, "They tried to fit her in the back of the plane, but they didn't have an extension to secure her."

He also said he was told the seat back couldn't handle his wife's 425 pound weight.

KLM spokeswoman Ellen van Ginkel said, "It appeared on the passenger's return that it was not physically possible for her to board the aircraft, despite every effort made by KLM to this end. A seat or belt extender did not offer a solution, either."

The couple suffered similar situations on a Delta flight out of Praque and a Lufthansa flight to New York out of Frankfurt.

After the Lufthansa flight fell through on October 22, the couple returned to their vacation home to make other arrangements. Vilma Soltesz continued to get sicker.

Janos Soltesz said neither he nor his wife trusted Hungarian doctors, and that she wanted to be treated by doctors who knew her medical history. Vilma died two days later and was buried in Hungary.

"I'm lonely now. Wherever I am going, I am just going alone. I am missing her a lot," Janos Soltesz said. "There were only two women in my life -- my mother, who I lived with for 23 years, and Vilma, who I lived with for 33 years."