Ok, so If you've been reading some of my other posts it is pretty obvious that I love to travel. Any opportunity I have to go abroad I will gladly take. Unfortunately I have a little problem called student loans that will keep me stateside for a little, but I have a short trip planned to go to Charlotte for Bloggy Boot Camp in May and then to San Francisco a few months later.
Going on trips is fun, getting there is something different entirely. I've been losing weight so my concerns are less, however in the past I've really had to ask myself, "Am I too fat to fly?"
In 2010, a few months before my flight to China, a big news story hit that the actor/director Kevin Smith had been kicked off a flight for being too big (you can read that story here). I read this story, it was plastered across the news and then I worried. I had been on multiple international flights before this, but I was not as heavy. I looked at pictures of Kevin Smith and tried to gauge his height and weight and compare it too my own physique and figure out if I was bigger or smaller. It panicked me.
Buying a second seat on any flight, especially an international flight, would be a big expense. I knew there was no way I could afford to buy a second seat. Now, I had never had an issue flying before, but in my mind all I could imagine was being told in front of an entire plane that I was too fat and being asked to leave a plane. Can you imagine? Seriously that is like not fitting on an amusement park ride times 100!
With all of that fear and worry setting in, I did some research. So, while my mind is thinking about traveling, I thought I'd share some tips for anyone who has similar concerns.
First, I don't work for an airline so my tips may contain some incorrect information. Your best bet is to call the airline your flying with and confirm all policies/regulations with them directly.
Ok, now with that disclaimer out of the way, I feel like knowledge is power. Before buying a ticket, know which airlines are more "friendly." It helps to know what the official policy is regarding "customers of size." You can find a good overview of various airline policies here.
If you are blindsided by suddenly realizing that you don't fit or that you are in jeopardy of being asked to leave a flight the situation may be way more embarrassing for you. Instead, as silly as this may sound, why don't you test out an airplane seat at your own home? You can find the seat dimensions online from the carrier's website, the majority are approximately 17 inches wide. So, like when you go to an airport and they have sample spots for you to see if your bag can fit in the overhead, you can eliminate concerns right now by measuring a chair you already own. Take a chair in your house and then get a measuring tape and see how wide the seat is. If you have a 17 inch seat then perfect! Sit in it and there you go, that is an approximate indication of what your airline seat will be like.
Now, don't panic if you feel like you are spilling over. This is the time where you need to consider if you can pick an aisle or window seat. Really, this will come down to preference. On an aisle, you can lean towards the aisle and give any passenger next to you some more room. At the same time, however, you may open yourself up to be bumped more often. If you choose a window, you may be uncomfortable asking other passengers to move to use the restroom, etc. Also, depending on where the window falls, you could lose a few inches of shoulder room and that would not be good. But, at the same time if the position of the window isn't where the bump sticks out you can gain an extra inch or two if the armrest next to the window goes up. Your best bet would be took look up your seat assignment on SeatGuru and check it out yourself.
Ok, now you've picked a friendly airline, have your seat assignment, and all that is left is buckling that seat belt. I will preface this with letting you all know that I'm a bigger girl and I've never needed a seat belt extender. Each carrier can provide the length of their seat belts and again you can measure this one at home. You can test it out before going and see how much room you will approximately have by using your own tape measurer. Should you feel like you may need an extender, I will warn you - many airlines have their extenders in bright orange. I know, nothing calls more attention to the fact that you need more room than giving you a neon orange seat belt extender. It is an uncomfortable enough situation and if you are really concerned there are actually website where you can purchase your own personal seat belt extender, like extend-its. If you choose to purchase your own, and the carrier you are flying with permits personal extenders, you can sneak one on with you and attach it without anyone noticing. It will be black and blend right in and no one is the wiser!
I've never actually had an issue on any flight, but it is something I've always worried about and being a very type A person I have a tendency to over prepare. I would rather have an idea of what I'm walking into and know what options I can make without having to pay for an expensive upgrade and hopefully avoid public embarrassment.
I know this is a sensitive topic, but I hope that by maybe sharing my own personal fears I've helped someone else. And please, don't let your fears hold you back because there is a wonderful world out there to explore :)
|With the Terrocatta Army in Xi'an, China|
If you have any tips or wisdom to share about flying please share!