Local News


Man: Discrimination on Spirit Airlines flight

Posted at 11:59 AM, Dec 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-01 14:59:57-05

A man's dream anniversary plans to Las Vegas went awry on the return home to Maryland.

In July, Steve Degrange flew Spirit Airlines from Baltimore to Las Vegas with his wife Tammy. They booked three seats since Steve is 6'1" and weighs more than 400 pounds. They took their seats in the emergency exit row without a problem.

But on the flight back to Maryland, the flight attendant said the man couldn't sit in the seat due to an FAA regulation.

The regulation itself says it is up to an airline employee to determine who may be assigned to an exit seat but age and size alone should not be a disqualifying factor.

Steve and Tammy Degrange were escorted to the back of the plane where they squished into the seats. The Degranges eventually left the plane.

"I figured if you paid the extra money, at least you could fly without embarrassment and have a comfortable flight, but obviously with some airlines that's not the case," Steve told WJLA in Arlington, Va.

The Degranges said Spirit Airlines did refund them for their flight and offered to put them up in a hotel for the night, but couldn't assure that they could get on a flight back home within 24 hours, WJLA reported.

The couple said it cost them an additional $400 to fly on a different airline.

Spirit Airlines issued a statement to WJLA, "This was a safety related issue... Unfortunately, the seat he chose on this particular aircraft had inflatable restraints where the distance is greater between seats. The inflatable seatbelts cannot use an extender because it renders the seatbelt inoperable."