Vilma Soltesz, a 425-pound New York woman, died from kidney failure after three separate airlines, citing weight-related complications, wouldn’t let her on board.
She was trying "to come back home to get her treatment," according to her husband, Janos.
Vilma, a 56-year-old resident of the Bronx, used a wheelchair to get around because she only had one leg, and was plagued by kidney disease and diabetes.
Her travel troubles began when the Hungarian natives, who had been married for 33 years – went to their vacation home in that nation on September 17.
Their travel agent bought Vilma two tickets to ensure she’d have proper space.
They were slated to return October 15 as Vilma had a meeting with her physicians scheduled, but KLM did not have the proper seatbelt extension to secure her in.
KLM spokeswoman Ellen van Ginkel said this left them unable to get Vilma home.
"It appeared on the passenger’s return that it was not physically possible for her to board the aircraft, despite every effort made by KLM to this end," van Ginkel said.
"A seat or belt extender did not offer a solution, either."
After a five-hour wait at the airport, the couple was directed to Prague for a Delta flight, but the airline ran into equipment issues that prevented her from boarding.
A wheelchair and elevator earmarked for the task could not withstand her weight.
Delta spokesman Russel Cason said that "despite a determined good-faith effort by Delta in Prague, we were also physically unable to board her on our aircraft."
Vilma and Janos tried a third time to board an October 22 Lufthansa flight to NYC, but again, issues arouse when the crew could not fit Vilma in a three-seat gap.
Lufthansa spokesman Nils Haupt said:
"We had 140 passengers on board, and they had connections and needed to travel. The question was never the seat belt. The question was the mobility of the passenger."
Janos, who said neither he nor his late wife trusted medical officials in Hungary, found his wife dead two days later at their vacation home.
"I am missing her a lot," he told the newspaper. "There were only two women in my life – my mother, whom I lived with for 23 years, and Vilma, whom I lived with for 33 years.”
"I’m lonely now. Wherever I am going, I am just going alone.