By DANICA KIRKA
LONDON — He’s been turned down by planes, trains and even a cruise ship in his quest to return home — and his family claims it’s because he was deemed too fat to travel.
Now, Frenchman Kevin Chenais’ long and fitful journey is coming to an end.
Chenais, who weighs 500 pounds, said he has been repeatedly refused transport during the past two weeks as he sought to get home to France from the United States. P&O Ferries offered to take him in his ambulance aboard the Spirit of Britain on Wednesday, the final hurdle keeping him from his home near the Swiss border.
“I am absolutely tired,” the 22-year-old said as he slumped over in his mobility scooter just before being loaded into the ambulance.
Chenais’ mother was outraged by the treatment her son allegedly received, saying he was discriminated against because of his weight.
“It’s not the fault of my son to be big. He has a genetic illness,” Christina Chenais said. “We are very happy to go home after this long, distressing and traumatic situation.”
The odyssey began when British Airways refused to honor his return ticket from the United States, where he spent months receiving medical care for a hormone imbalance.
“When we talked about this problem with British Airways that Kevin was too fat … (they said) abandon any intention of coming back to France,” Kevin’s father, Rene, told RTL Radio. “From the fact of his incapacity, his obesity, he was not considered to be a normal being, but more like a problem.”
BA acknowledged it refused to let Chenais board the plane, but said confidentiality rules prevent it from saying why. BA insisted it does not discriminate against customers for any reason and the airline provides the option of an extra seat to people with concerns about seat width.
“We respect the privacy of the customer so cannot comment on any changes in circumstance between arrival and departure dates,” the company said in a statement.