An Australian man is suing American Airlines after he says his seating arrangement next to two obese passengers during a 14-hour flight caused him to have permanent neck and back injuries.
Michael Anthony Taylor, 67, said that although he was in the window seat during a flight from Sydney, Australia, to Los Angeles, the two other passengers in his row were obese and the airline would not let him switch seats. Taylor alleges his seating position led to bruising of his neck along with aggravating his previously existing scoliosis.
The December 2015 Boeing 777 flight was reportedly full at the time, but Taylor said the flight crew could have made other adjustments to prevent him from discomfort, but instead he was left to contort his body into a series of positions including crouching, kneeling, bracing, or standing," according to News.com.au.
"I don’t hold any malice towards the people in the seats next to me — they’d paid for a ticket too,” Taylor told the Daily Telegraph. "The airline could have put me in a crew seat or moved people around but they did nothing."
Federal regulations prohibit airlines from seating passengers in jump seats, which are reserved for trained flight attendants.
Taylor is seeking $100,000 in damages, and his attorney hopes that the lawsuit will serve as a final push to force airlines to make economy class seats more accommodating.
"As a result of the fact that American Airlines failed to reseat him or even offer a viable alternative, he suffered bodily injuries by contorting his body within the cramped space caused by the intrusion of the grossly obese passenger sitting next to him," Taylor's attorney Thomas Jansen said.
"If Michael is successful, this throws open the doors to potentially a large amount of cases against airlines and how they’ve designed their seating and how they seat passengers," he said. "There will be a huge outcry against the way airlines furnish their cabins, particularly in economy."
The lawsuit comes after American Airlines announced their plans to cut legroom on their Boeing 737 Max jets from 31 inches to 30 inches, which will allow them to include at least 10 more seats per plane.