Flight is an amazing experience. You’re soaring majestically over the earth towards your destination in a matter of hours. Unfortunately, air travel itself can be extremely stressful, from getting through the airport to boarding the plane. For the plus-size traveler, the airplane experience can be something else entirely, so here are a few recommendations to keep you comfortable.
Booking Your Flight
Your entire experience starts when you book your flight. Make sure you choose an airline that is friendly to plus-size individuals. Try to avoid busy times. Red eye flights are less likely to be full, leaving more space for you to travel in comfort.
Most airlines will enforce the purchase of a second seat under the general rule that you must be able to lower both arm rests and fasten the seat belt using one extender. Some airlines will offer the second seat at the lowest possible fare with refunds if the flight is not full. Check with your airline before you purchase your ticket.
If you need to purchase a second seat for comfort, most airlines require that book directly through a reservation agent, instead of on the website. This ensures that you select the correct seat.
Another option would be to book a seat in premium, economy plus, or first class. The seats in these sections tend to be bigger, though the arm rests in first class do not go up between seats.
Window or Aisle
Request a seat assignment for the window or aisle seat. A window seat offers a little more shoulder room, while aisles provide more room for hips and shoulders. Avoid bulkhead seats, which offer more room for your legs but don’t have moveable arm rests. Furthermore, the tray tables for bulkhead seats come directly out of the armrests across your lap.
Consider choosing an aisle seat where the outside armrests are moveable, making it easier for you to slide into your seat.
Before Your Flight
When you make your reservations, make sure you inform the booking agent if you need any special services, which might include an attendant, a wheelchair, or the airport tram. It’s also a long walk from check-in to the gates. Take advantage of any services that will get you around quickly and comfortably.
Use the airport restroom before you board the plane. When booking your trip, ask if the plane has handicapped facilities. If not you may consider changing your plans to fly on a plane that has an accessible restroom.
Squeezing into the center aisle of a plane is hard for everyone, big or small, especially when the plane is already brimming with people. Ask your gate agent if you can pre-board the plane with the other passengers that need that extra bit of time boarding. Most gate agents should be more than accommodating, but if he or she asks, just tell them honestly that you’re a large person who needs the extra time and room to board.
As you’re boarding, ask a flight attendant for a seat belt extension. Don’t wait until the flight attendant is demonstrating safety procedures. If you’re a frequent flyer, consider purchasing a seat belt extender to save yourself the trouble.
During the Flight
Try to stay as comfortable as possible. If you are sitting next to someone, smile and make small talk.
The tray table directly in front of you may not work for you, even in Executive/first class, in which case you should use the table in front of your second seat.
Once your plane lands, everyone will be in a rush to get up and get out of there. Hang back. Let just about everyone around you leave first. You’ll see them again at the baggage carousel anyway. This gives you ample room and ample time to get your overhead bags and head out.
Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. From getting off the plane to getting to the carousels, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Airport staff are more than happy to bring you a wheelchair or scooter or assign an attendant. Airports will help you all the way to the curb, going so far as to get you a cab service. If you want even more convenience stop by Airport Parking Connection and reserve your airport parking spot today!