At Chubby Diaries we are striving to make travel accessible to all travelers, no matter their size!
So we got to sit done with a flight attendant to ask some of the pressing questions that plus size people have when it comes to flying…
Meet our friend Alyssa Forrester she is a Flight Attendant, Photographer and a Certified Drone Pilot
1. Should Plus size people upgrade their airline seat?
Premium, business, and first class seats all offer much wider seat options, and typically, the higher the class, the wider the seat. For example, the economy seats on the airline I work for are on average 18 inches in width, the widest for an economy seat on an American carrier.
On routes that offer our premium cabin, those seats range from 20.7 to 22.3 inches in width. From a wider seat, to more legroom, I 100% would recommend these upgraded seats for a more comfortable inflight experience, especially for long haul flights.
2. In your opinion, what is the best seat on an airplane? Aisle, middle or window?
Plus size or not, a middle seat just ain’t it!
While I’m partial to a window seat for those #planeviews, aisle seats also have some advantages like being able to move the armrest up once in flight for a bit more comfort, as well as direct access to the aisle. As far as which seat in particular to book, it really comes down to personal preference.
I think it helps to try a few flights and “Goldilocks” different seats on different aircrafts and even different airlines to see which one is just right for you. This way, the seat you book will be the one you feel the most comfortable in for the duration of your flight.
3. If advice could you give if a Plus size person has an issue lowering their tray table down?
This can be a tough one, especially if you are looking forward to the inflight dining experience on a long haul flight. If you find that the tray table doesn’t go down as meal service begins, it’s OK!
A few possible workarounds could include:
If the seat next to you is open, placing your meal on the tray table of the open seat instead.
Asking the flight attendant if there happens to be two open seats (or a row) available within the same class you are booked so that you may utilize the additional tray table to enjoy your meal.
Asking the flight attendant for any other possible solutions they may have based on their experience.
As we talked about the width of premium, business, and first class seats before, like the seats, I have noticed in my travels on different carrier that the tray tables on both domestic and foreign carriers tend to be much more forgiving, once again making these upgraded seats something to consider for a more comfortable inflight experience.
4. Would you suggest a plus size person to buy their own seatbelt extender?
I recently learned that seatbelt extenders can be purchased online when a passenger on one of my flights had one…and it didn’t fit our seatbelts securely. I know it seems like a great idea, but unfortunately many of the seatbelt extenders sold online are not approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), even though they claim to be. In the event of an emergency, even turbulence, your seatbelt is the one thing that will keep you safe and protect you from injury, so having one that functions properly is essential. Every airline is required to have seatbelt extenders onboard the aircraft to ensure that every passenger is able to securely fasten their seatbelt, so as you get settled in to your seat, please don’t hesitate to ask a flight attendant for one. Remember, your safety is first and foremost, so asking for a seatbelt extender is not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
5. What suggestion would you give to a plus size whose seatbelt doesn’t fit?
First off, do not panic. I can’t emphasize this enough. It happens! Over the years, with more and more people traveling by plane every year, seats as well as seatbelts have become smaller and shorter as airlines configure their airplanes with more seats in order to accommodate the demand. If as you are settling in you realize your seatbelt doesn’t fit, let a flight attendant know as soon as possible, and we will see if a seatbelt extender can help. There’s no need to force the seatbelt to fit as 1. It can compromise safety and malfunction/cause injury in an emergency and 2. It’s just not comfortable. While your safety is your flight attendants number one priority, we also want to make sure you are comfortable for your flight as well.
6. I wrote an article about Airline’ s Plus size people policies- what advice could you give instead of purchasing a whole seat?
I had to research this policy as the airline I work for doesn’t have one. But after looking through the policy of other airlines I would definitely recommend it! The policy was put into place in order to make the flying experience more comfortable for all onboard, so if it’s within ones budget, I say go for it. Air travel can be stressful as a plus size traveler, but I truly feel like this policy helps to take away some of that pre-flight anxiety that comes with seating assignments and allows for a more comfortable experience and flight.
7. Have you ever experienced passengers fat shaming other passengers on flights? Are there any airline policies if things like this happen?
In my almost three years of flying, I have thankfully never witnessed this firsthand, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t happen. (We all saw that United video…) My advice would be to not engage with the fat-shaming passenger, and instead, get the help of one of the flight attendants as soon as you can, especially if we are still on the ground. (I know us flight attendants can sometimes look like a frazzled bunch as we attempt to get the cabin ready for departure, but if a passenger is being unkind, we need to know about it ASAP.
Who knows how their behavior may escalate in the air.) Use your call button, or come speak with us privately in the galley, but get us involved as soon as you can. More often than not, that passenger will be moved to another seat within the same class (that is, they will not be moved to business or first). If their behavior proves to be truly problematic (that is, they continue to be insulting), they will be removed and booked on another flight if on the ground, or met at the gate by security when the plane lands if the incident happens during flight. No one should be subjected to that kind of treatment, and it is absolutely not tolerated.
8. Finally, what would your #1 bit of advice be to a plus size person traveling by plane?
As cliché as it may sound, my number one piece of advice would be to not stress and just breath. I know, it sounds crazy, given that between the seat size, seatbelt, and other passengers, plane travel can be tough when you’re plus size. But as more and more plus size travelers take to the skies and visibility increases, more and more accommodations are being made by airlines to make the flying experience an accessible and enjoyable one for all that board an aircraft.
So at any stage of your trip, wether during booking, at the airport, or on the plane, please don’t hesitate to reach out to airline personnel with any questions or concerns you may have, especially if they will help bring peace of mind and make your upcoming flight more enjoyable. Because everyone’s flight should be a safe and comfortable one as we set out and explore this great, big world of ours.
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