An Australian man has leveled a broadside against American Airlines — for seating him next to two plump passengers on a 14-hour flight, an ordeal he claims left him with permanent injuries.
Michael Anthony Taylor, 67, said the airline refused to allow him to change seats, leaving him “crouching, kneeling, bracing or standing” for much of the flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, the Sydney Daily Telegraph reported.
He said his squashed position by the window during the long flight worsened his scoliosis — or spinal curvature — and caused lower and upper back injuries as well as neck bruising.
The Wollongong resident is suing the airline and seeking more than $100,000 in damages.
American Airlines told The Post in a statement: “We just received the lawsuit and we are reviewing the allegations.”
The Boeing 777 took off from Sydney on Dec. 28, 2015, with all 310 seats occupied, the airline said.
“I don’t hold any malice towards the people in the seats next to me — they’d paid for a ticket too,” he told the paper. “The airline could have put me in a crew seat or moved people around but they did nothing.”
His attorney said the wide-body case could lead to a push for airlines to make their economy class more comfortable.
“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,” Thomas Janson said. “There will be a huge outcry against the way airlines furnish their cabins, particularly in economy.”
Janson said his client’s action falls under the Montreal Convention, which covers airline passengers for “accidents.”
“It has to be unusual or unexpected — and Mr. Taylor’s injuries were certainly that,” he said.
“Given the small amount of area that passengers are afforded particularly when they fly in economy, and for that to be invaded by another passenger, the Montreal Convention we contend is relevant in this matter,” he said.
Last year, an Italian lawyer sued Emirates airline after he was forced to “suffer” a nine-hour flight seated next to an obese man, the Telegraph of the UK reported.
“For nine hours, I had to stand in the aisle, sit on seats reserved for the cabin crew when they were free, and in the final phase of flight resign myself to suffer the ‘spillover’ of the passenger at my side,” he told Mattino Padova.
American Airlines didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
In another case filed in Australia in 2012, James Bassos sued Etihad Airways after he was forced to sit next to a “grossly overweight” man who “encroached into his seat.”
In 2015, a court in Brisbane rejected the airline’s attempt to have the claim tossed — but the case was discontinued after Bassos died last year.
Taylor’s complaint comes amid a spate of incidents in which airline passengers have reported being mistreated — most notably a Kentucky doctor who was violently dragged off a United Airlines flight.
Dr. David Dao, 69, eventually settled with the airline for an undisclosed amount.