Malice or stupidity?

“Never blame malice for what stupidity can explain.” It’s hard to say which of these two powerful forces of wrong was at work in this story of a fat woman trying to get home, and being denied transport by three separate airlines. (After being stranded in Hungary, she died of kidney failure, for which she was being treated in the United States.) Since she was flown to Hungary without trouble apart from some extra planning and care on the airline’s part, the fact that her return trip flummoxed the same airline (plus two others) seems like a big case of the stupids to me. Even so, it’s a preventable tragedy, and I have to think that the type of anti-fat bias that renders fat people (and their unique needs) invisible is a likely factor here.

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6 thoughts on “Malice or stupidity?

  1. This is being reported as descrimination against a fat woman, but if you look at what happened, three separate airlines tried to board her unsuccessfully. One airline used firemen and they couldn’t do it, so it’s clear the airlines were (a) genuinely trying to get her home and (b) unable to do so, despite their best efforts.

    What’s peculiar is that they tried at all – passengers who are visibly sick are not usually allowed to travel, especially over an ocean, because the airlines don’t want to have to turn back in a medical emergency. It may be that they were trying their best to get her back for urgent medical care.

    She must have been in end stage renal failure and if you look at the pictures, she was very sick and her body was very swollen with fluids, so she must have been a lot bigger leaving Europe than when she arrived.

    What she needed was either to seek medical care in Germany, where she had landed, or to get medical transport. Commercial airliners can’t be expected to do this, and it’s surprising they tried. Their other passengers wouldn’t have thanked them for having to turn back to Europe if she had had an emergency on board.

    • Chloe, your analysis seems well thought out, and could be correct. I must admit that I don’t know how ill the passenger was at the intended time of travel, so possibly it was neither malice nor stupidity on the airlines’ part. Hopefully the facts will come out and airlines in general can learn something about how to handle these situations.

  2. I don’t think this is all about fatness, if you see how people with disabilities are treated by airlines this is no surprise. Many people in wheelchairs are treated in terrible ways, it’s common for airlines to give problems for people with all kind of disabilities even without a good reason and sometimes deny to let people on their planes.
    I don’t know the rest of this story but this is also a possibility.

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