- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

LONDON (Agence France-Presse) Britain's Virgin Atlantic Airways has agreed to pay $20,000 to a woman who was crushed by an obese passenger in an adjacent seat during a long-haul flight, a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman said yesterday.
The injured passenger, 63-year-old Briton Barbara Hewson, suffered a blood clot in her hand and sciatica during an economy-class flight from London to Los Angeles in January 2001.
The passenger next to Miss Hewson was so big she could only sit down by lifting her armrests and putting her arm on Miss Hewson's chest.
Miss Hewson got up from her seat several times and sat in a place reserved for cabin crew, but the rest of the plane was full.
The payment was made in an out-of-court settlement after medical testing confirmed the injuries.
"We've had medical testing, and she had sustained injuries from that flight hematoma in her hand and sciatica," said a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman.
"Unfortunately, it was very unprecedented circumstances because there was nowhere else we could have moved her because the flight was full."
The airline said that its policy was to urge people who may have problems fitting into one seat to book two places when they phone to make a reservation.
"We are liable for a payout if anything happens to anyone on our plane, whether [or not] it is caused by another passenger."


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