Man Sues Airline for His Back Injury

September 20, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. sue /su/ (v.) – to file a lawsuit or a charge against someone
Example: She sued the airline company that lost her luggage.

2. assert /əˈsɜrt/ (v.) – to state something strongly
Example: The passenger asserted that she is supposed to be in business class.  

3. landing /ˈlæn dɪŋ/ (n.) – the time when a plane has reached the ground
Example: I could tell the pilot was skilled because our landing was smooth. 

4. unusual /ʌn -ˈyuʒ wəl/ (adj.) – not common or not ordinary
Example: There was an unusual amount of rain before the flood.

5. foul /faʊl/ (adj.) – having a bad smell
Example: The passenger next to me had a foul smell.   


Read the text below.
An Australian passenger sues an airline for the back injury he had after sitting beside an obese man during a flight.

Passenger James Andres Bassos said that the obese man beside him took a huge part of his seat when he flew from Sydney to Dubai via an Etihad Airways flight. Because of this, Bassos asserted that he injured his back because he had to position his body in an uncomfortable way all throughout the flight.

Bassos stated that he asked an airline staff if he could change seats after five hours of flying, but he was turned down because all seats were already occupied. After complaining for the second time, Bassos was able to move to a crew seat. However, he had to go back to his original seat before the plane’s landing.

The airline defended itself, saying that sitting beside an obese person is not unusual, especially on a fully booked flight. Etihad Airways refused to give further comments but said that it will continue opposing Bassos’ charges.

This is not the first time that a passenger complained about being seated next to an obese or overweight person during a flight. In 2013, traveler Rich Wisken complained about having to sit beside an obese and foul-smelling man. He did not expect to be uncomfortable during the flight because he paid extra to get the exit row seat, which had more space.

A similar instance occurred in 2014, which involved a grandmother. Caralyn Young complained against Air New Zealand for being assigned a seat beside an obese man. Because the man took so much space, Young had to stay in the aisle and in the flight attendants’ area during the flight.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         If you were Bassos, would you also sue Etihad Airways? Why or why not?
·         How do you think this kind of problem can be solved?

Discussion B

·         How can an airline ensure the safety and comfort of its passengers?
·         What are the common causes of discomfort among plane passengers? 

September 20, 2015