Lifestyle & Belief

425lb woman dies overseas after airlines turn her away


425-Pound Vilma Soltesz died in Europe after multiple airlines said she was too obese to fly home to New York.


YouTube/TV2 Hungary

The family of 56-year-old Vilma Soltesz said they are considering legal action after Soltesz was denied boarding by three different airlines and died overseas.

Soltesz died of kidney failure on Oct. 24 while on vacation in her native Hungary.

Soltesz and her husband Janos make the trip every year to visit family, reports NBC News.

“All we wanted was to come back home to get her treatment,” Janos Soltesz, a Staten Island Ferry security guard, told the NY Post.

The Bronx residents flew from New York to Budapest on the Dutch airline KLM without any problems. The family's attorney Holly Ostrov Ronai told NBC that Soltesz purchased two seats for herself because of her size and used a seatbelt extender when seated.

"KLM asked them when they would be flying home so that they could make proper arrangements," Ronai wrote in an email to

But after boarding their return flight on October 15, the captain told them to disembark because the plane had an issue with the seatback and the airline did not have a seatbelt extender.

KLM told NBC News that it was physically impossible for Soltesz to board the plane.

“A seat or belt extender did not offer a solution either,” said KLM spokeswoman Ellen van Ginkel, in a statement to NBC News. “Subsequently, KLM and its partners Delta and Air France did it utmost to find an alternative in the two days that followed."

Soltesz had been trying to get back to the United States to see see her doctors about some health problems.

After being denied boarding by KLM, the couple waited in the airport for five hours before driving through the night to Prague where they was told a larger plane with Delta Airlines could take them home.

But, Ronai said Delta did not have a wheelchair strong enough to hold Soltesz's weight and crews could also not get her on the plane using the sky-lift elevator.

The couple returned to their vacation home in Hungary to try and make other arrangements to get back to New York.

Finally, a they were told an October 22 Lufthansa flight to New York would be able to accommodate her size.

But after boarding the plane on their third attempt to get home, the crew and the local fire department were unable to move Soltesz from her wheelchair to the three seats assigned to her, and the captain ordered them off the plane, reports the NY Post.

“We had 140 passengers on board, and they had connections and needed to travel,” said Lufthansa spokesman Nils Haupt. “The question was never the seat belt. The question was the mobility of the passenger.”

Soltesz and her husband once again returned home, this time with Soltesz getting sicker and sicker. She died two days later.

Ronai said Janos Soltesz is planning a lawsuit against the three airlines, KLM, Delta and Lufthansa, that denied his wife boarding to get her home to see her doctors.

“This absolutely contributed to the cause of her death,” Ronai said. “They managed to get her over there and were obligated to get her home.”