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Man now blames airlines for failing to prevent the death of his 425 pound wife. Is he right?

Vilma Soltesz
Vilma Soltesz
Vilma Soltesz
Vilma Soltesz

The husband of a 425 pound woman, Janos Soltesz has gone on to accuse three airlines, including KLM, Delta and Lufthansa for his wife’s death because all three refused to fly her back to the United States where she needed urgent medical attention.

The grief first began as follows courtesy of gawker: Janos and Vilma Soltesz had flown via KLM to their native country of Hungary on September 17th without issue.

After vacationing there for a few weeks, the couple boarded a return KLM flight to New York, but were soon told they had to deplane as a problem with the seat back and the lack of a proper seat-belt extender prevented Vilma from being securely fastened.

According to Sotesz’s lawyer, Holly Ostrov-Ronai who has now been brought on to pursue a suit against the three airlines for the wrongful death of Vilma Soltesz, KLM was made aware of Vilma’s condition as a number of back and forth emails were exchanged requesting adequate provisions be made so as to enable Vilma’s safe passage back to the United States.

What though is not understood at present is if KLM communicated their ability to accommodate Vilma Soltesz or if the Soltesz had just assumed because an email dialogue exchange had been made that their special request to accommodate Vilma Soltesz would be followed through.

For its part, KLM is insisting ‘every effort’ to accommodate Vilma was made but ‘it was not physically possible for her to board the aircraft.’

Vilma Soltesz
Vilma Soltesz

Continues gawker: KLM eventually managed to find a seat for Vilma aboard a “bigger” Delta plane, but after a five-hour drive to Prague, the couple was once again prevented from boarding.

An airline spokesman said Delta crew members were “physically unable to board” Vilma onto the aircraft because there was no one around to operate the sky-lift.

Returning to Hungary, the couple tried their luck again with Lufthansa, but, once again, were met with difficulties.

Despite working for over 30 minutes with “local partners, the fire brigade and technical experts,” Vilma was still unable to securely fasten her seatbelt, and the captain decided to ask her to leave “for the safety of this passenger and the over 140 fellow passengers.”

By this stage Vilma Soltesz who was undergoing treatment for kidney disease and diabetes was beginning to experience a deterioration in her health and it was becomingly increasingly imperative that she return to the United States where she could receive the nuanced medical attention that she had been receiving which it is understood discouraged the Soltesz couple from pursuing in Europe given the complicated nature of her treatment plan.

Unable to board a plane, Vilma’s health took a turn for the worse where upon two days later after once again being denied passage back to the United States she died of kidney failure.

Reiterated Soltesz’s lawyer, Holly Ostrov-Ronai: “Janos is heartbroken. The only thing that keeps him going day to day is that he wants justice for what was done to Vilma and to try to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else in the future.”

Ultimately one has to wonder about the Soltesz’ decision to fly abroad given their awareness of how ill Vilma Soltesz really was, but then again one also has to wonder about the airline’s own complicity as well.

After all if the airlines allowed her to fly in the first place can anyone really blame the Soltesz’ expectations that they should be able to fly her back as well?

Perhaps KLM was just being polite and accommodating in agreeing to fly her out in the first place or perhaps they saw an opportunity to add to their revenue coffers without fully coming clean that a legitimate and probable risk existed in flying her back to the United States something that it appears was not made clear to the Soltesz’ who otherwise would have thought better of traveling abroad at that time….?

At present Vilma Soltesz’s death has provoked a flurry of reactions some of which I have copied and pasted below as food for thought:

I am a United Airlines Captain and I fly these International Flights. Number ONE issue here is safety, for all passengers. A 407 pound person with one leg should NEVER be a passenger on a jet. I can’t explain all the issues involved on this forum but there are several. Emergency evacuation in the event of an aborted takeoff is number one. How many Flight Attendants would it take to get this woman off the jet when they should be helping other passengers, hurt, injured, incapacitated, elderly passengers and the list goes on. What if the only way out is through an over wing window exit, this woman wouldn’t fit. Someone that heavy is a major hazard to all the other passengers. She would never be allowed on my jet. It is not a matter of being kind, it is a matter of my passengers safety and that is number one to me both morally and legally. Many other issues here, restroom usage, passenger comfort for those near her etc. How would you like to purchase an international ticket and then have to be smashed against the window for 10 hours, nope, wouldn’t happen on my jet. Lawsuit, absolutely absurd. I removed a passenger from my jet one time in Newark before we departed for Paris. The guy had body odor that was almost as bad as if he had been dead for a week. NO way I would allow that guy to sit on my jet and reek out everyone else.


It appears that they didn’t even attempt to avail themselves of medical care in Hungary. Hungary hasn’t been a communist state since 1989 and is a member of the European Union. Hungary has a Human Development Index (HDI) in the “very high” range (HDI is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, standards of living, and quality of life for countries worldwide). Their failure to seek medical treatment in Hungary was the major contributing factor to her death (the second being her underlying health problems and the third being travelling while chronically ill).

It’s regretable that the airlines, which all appear to have made genuine efforts to help, were not able to fly her home. However, she was chronically ill and could easily died anyway had she returned to the US (which lets face it doesn’t have the best healthcare system in the world).

Baseline treatment for kidney disease is IV fluids. Even an animal hospital in “former Communist Hungary” would have been able to provide emergency care. I agree they should have had a plan for emergent care in place; and should have considered other options including medical treatment or driving elsewhere in stead of… Nothing?


Read the fine print in the terms and conditions you agree to whenever you get a ticket. It’s up to the pilot if you will fly or not and every origination point holds different conditions. You can board in the US and then face different rules overseas.

For just one example, if the airport operates under NAP– noise abatement procedures– the angle at which the plane takes off may be much steeper than your last origin which was not under NAP. The pilot might have a legitimate concern over the G-force stress of an individual weighing a quarter ton on the thin plastic/aluminum seat back– not to mention their heart, this was a medical issue on boarding someone that could not even negotiate the stairs. Not saying this was a factor, just that you agree as a condition of boarding that the pilot is always right.


Just my opinion but if she was allowed to fly back home and died en route, something tells me the family would probably have sued anyway. Their attorney would probably offer up the argument that the airline should have known that she posed too big of a health risk to have been allowed to fly. Look folks, we live in a litigious society where far too many people don’t accept responsibility for their own actions or conditions. Additionally, there are far too many people willing to hand out outrageous jury awards based on flawed verdicts. And the attorneys rake in the bucks.


Baseline treatment for kidney disease is IV fluids. Even an animal hospital in “former Communist Hungary” would have been able to provide emergency care. I agree they should have had a plan for emergent care in place; and should have considered other options including medical treatment or driving elsewhere in stead of… Nothing?


This is a terrible thing for her family, but how is the airline responsible for a lifetime of bad health?


If her condition was that bad, you’d think that they’d go to a hospital there. It doesn’t sound like any airline had the intent to deny her, but tried in many different ways to make it work. It just didn’t is all. But then there is her condition. When you allow yourself to become so obese, your body shuts down a lot quicker.


I keep seeing the plane hitting turbulance and a four hundred pound woman bouncing around the cabin. The captain had to protect more than just this one person. Would you sue a car manufacturer if you bought a new car and then couldn’t fit inside?


Sounds like the various airlines made extensive efforts to try and accomodate her while keeping in mind the safety of the other passengers.


I would like to know the name of the airlines that took her overseas & endangered everyone. If her family didn’t have the common sense to refused to buy her a row of seats, then the airlines should have.


Sorry this happened, but since her medical issues were so critical, they shouldn’t have left the country in the first place.



  1. from what I understand she gained a lot of weight (while being heavily overweight already) in hungary because of her disease, that’s why it was so troubling to get her on a plane back.

    in defense of the flight companies:

    – how were they supposed to have known she would gain so much weight that it would become impossible to get her back to the usa?

    – they really seem to have gone to great length to get her on a plane back but, in this unexpected situation, they were unfortunately unable to do so.

    – it seems to me the safety of the plane and the passengers as a whole does come first!

    – they healthcare story in the letter seems to make sense to me. refusing to go to a local hospital, as a temporary solution, when you are so sick seems absurd to me.

  2. ok so lets see she let herself get that big….which caused the diabetes which caused her to loose her leg and gain more wieght which caused her to have kidney problems which made her want to go home and visit before she died and when she got sick and died b.c she was to big to get back on the plane with a SKY LIFT ( to have to be put on a plan with a sky lift or fire begade should say enough and embarassing enough to have not got on the plan in the states to begin with) to get back to america not even her home country so she can get medicade that the americans pay for probably oh but wait we have to sue b.c they airlines ITS ALL THEIR FAULT THEY DID IT LMAO ok im feelin a bit mean today i guess 🙂

  3. I’m too disgusted to read this story. Not at the airline but the fat person who can’t accept her own self deprivation. Planes unless cargo are not designed for this size of passenger. Loose weight and earn a legitimate place back in society.

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