5 Helpful Tips for Flying When You’re an Overweight Traveler

One of our most popular (and most polarizing posts) to date is Airline Polices for Overweight Persons Traveling This Summer, essentially designed to give people a one-stop-shop for the various airline polices regarding larger people. What we found is that there is still a lot of contention surrounding this issue.

5 Helpful Tips for Flying When You’re an Overweight Traveler

A dialogue is essential to effecting change in any case, so we’re going to continue a series of posts aimed at helping keep all paying passengers comfortable. Up first – what you can do if you’re a person of above-average size to assure a comfortable flight for you and your seat mates. We’ve also updated the original post to reflect any new changes from individual airlines.

Do your research
As with most topics these days, the Internet is your friend. You can do a ton of research online to find out which airlines and even schedules are friendly to persons of size. Seatguru will show you the individual specifications of 800 aircraft searchable by airline so you can see exactly how much space you have in any seat on a particular plane. Genius! Travel forums are another great resource to see what airlines are given a ‘person of size’ seal of approval. While JetBlue doesn’t take an official position on their website, a search of some popular travel forums show positive feedback from the community. Various travelers online give them two huge thumbs up owing in part to the extra one inch of seat width that comes standard on JetBlue aircraft, but also to their friendly and non-judgmental customer service. It pays to do a little bit of research before booking.

Book smarter
If you are a frequent traveler and a person of size you’re acutely aware that no one is super comfy anymore when flying. Airlines cram in as many seats as possible in an effort to maximize profits per flight. In an effort to mitigate some of the bad press (to admittedly mixed reviews), most of the larger domestic airlines have instituted policies that aim to keep everyone comfortable. While you can find a complete list of those policies in our updated post, our pick for most friendly airline to passengers of size is Southwest. Here’s why. Southwest offers one big perk to those who are in need of an extra seat for comfort. First, if you choose to pre-purchase an extra seat (which we recommend), after you fly, Southwest will refund you the cost of your extra seat regardless of WHETHER OR NOT THE FLIGHT WAS OVERBOOKED. You heard us right. The purchase of the second seat guarantees your comfort and you get the cost of that guarantee reimbursed. You do have to contact Southwest for the refund to be processed, but that’s just a small bit of busywork. The only other bit of logistics is that you have to advocate for yourself on the flight. Southwest will give you a placard stating that a seat is reserved for you to place on the accompanying seat. If someone tries to sit there, you’re going to have to point out the sign to them.

You can also take your chances that your flight will not be full (insuring an extra seat will be available) and forego the pre-payment option but we feel this leaves you open to the seating preferences of other passengers and potential embarrassment (if the flight is overbooked, you can and will be asked to forfeit your seat and take the next flight). No – for your money – the simple solution is to pay in advance for the extra room and then request a refund post-travel.

Befriend the gate agent
Here’s the thing. Being nice to the gate agent is kind of a generic catch-all bit of advice for any sort of flying problem/concern primarily because it’s a thankless job. People pretty much complain to you all day long in not terribly respectful voices (i.e. with attitude). It would seem like the smallest thing to do, but honestly, just taking the time to ask the gate agent how their day is going can go a long way. If you are a person of size and would like to pre-board for comfort/ease, nine times out of ten no one at the gate is going to bat an eye. You can tip the cards even further in your favor by letting the gate agent know when you arrive that you plan to do so. A bit of additional business – see if the flight isn’t full. If it isn’t and they can shuffle seats around a bit, you could end up with your row all to yourself. If you’ve been polite and friendly, you’ll have it made.

Aisle or Window?
Well, we’re pretty evenly split on this one. Like we said, flying ain’t a walk in the park for anyone these days. I’m inclined to a window seat, but I also prefer to avoid mid-flight bathroom breaks and climbing over the aisle seat people. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind stepping out into the aisle multiple times during a flight or need frequent bathroom runs, you know that already. You’re better off sitting on the aisle. There’s no great option for anyone unless you’re flying first class.

5 Helpful Tips for Flying When You’re an Overweight Traveler

Take a deep breath
When all else fails – just try to relax. It’s true. There are people on your flight that may be rude to you based on your size just as there are people on your flight who might be rude to new parents traveling with infants or to someone with an obvious disability. There will also be very nice people who’re just trying to get from point A to point B. You have just as much business traveling to visit friends or to see the Eiffel Tower or to lie on a beach. When you run into someone who treats you unkindly because of your size, remember that they too have their struggles and try not to let it bother you. And remember – in a few short hours you’re going to be sipping your margarita poolside or holding your new niece in your arms. In the meantime, take a deep breath, put in your headphones and chill out to some relaxing music. If you need a few more suggestions on how to decompress, read our 5 Simple Tips to Combat Air Anxiety and Help You Relax. Happy travels!

As always, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below. You can also tweet to us @CheapAir.


  1. Thanks for the info about southest and the extra paid seat. I retired, have some travelling money, but quit flying because of the space issue and getting cramps in my legs. I have thyroid issues which make losing weight difficult. Not morbidly obese, we are just big, tall people who love to fly but are very discouraged. Have given up dreams of flying to Europe and Asia even though we have the travel fund. First class is beyond our means, though

    1. Don’t give uo! Try Air Canada and Brussels air. I have flown to Africa on them. Several inches of extra leg room where my knees are normally locked into the seat in front of me and a wider seat. Also not packed in like sardines. Going and returning had empty seats next to me. Let the airlines know when you are checking in.

      1. Needed this info. Planning a trio to Africa soon and was quite worried about seating because of my size. Will look into these airlines.

    2. Dont be discouraged to fly out of the united states as long as you fly with foreign airlines (Singapore air) these type of companies cater to the customer a lot more than the Domestic companies…

  2. How are seatbelt lengths measured? I am assuming since the belt doesn’t go behind you and just goes from one side to.the other that if I measure from the back side of one hip to the other that is how the seatbelt length is measured as well?

    1. Hi Leslie, I would reach out to the airline to ask this question. Your assumption seems like it should probably be correct, but since the airlines are not required by law to post information about their seatbelts, I would reach out and simply ask someone.

    2. All airlines offer seatbelt extenders. Once you are seated just kindly ask the flight attendant for a seat belt extender and she will bring you one.

  3. FYI, I have recently flown with Southwest a few times. On two of those flights, they were overbooked. I requested the extra seat at the ticket counter (I did not purchase one ahead of time), and they STILL gave me the extra seat. They were making announcements asking for volunteers to fly on a later flight in exchange for a travel credit, and I still got my extra seat. Plus, they allow people who need the extra seat to preboard (along with one companion), which is a huge advantage on Southwest. You get to pick your seat! Pretty much the only people who get on before you will be folks in wheelchairs. Honestly, after these experiences, I will never fly on another airline unless I absolutely have to.

  4. The company I work for purchased me a business select ticket on Southwest Airlines (SWA) just hours before travel. I am onesie, weighing in at 365 pounds. I knew nothing of their program to lock out an accompanying seat for us larger people. As I waited in line at position A9 to board a SWA company representative approached me with a “seat reserved” boarding paper. He was very discreet and respectful. He explained it’s purpose and was off on his way without drawing any attention. As I entered the aircraft I asked the greeting flight attendant if I could have a seatbelt extension. He quietly said that he will get one to me. I sat in my seat and a few minutes later I simply looked at the flight attendant who was near my seat and she (a different flight attendant) simply nodded and got me my seatbelt extender, which she very tactfully gave me the required device. This was a very pleasant experience and I am very greatfull to SWA for it. Oh, and by the way that flight from San Antonio to Chicago was a full flight. That experience juxtaposed to two weeks later flying on Delta Airlines from Louisville to Atlanta was a horrible experience. When I was checking in my luggage ($25) I kindly asked if Delta had a similar program as SWA. The representative laughed and said “no, Delta is interested in making money by selling seats”. As I got to the gate I again kindly asked the gate agent if it were possible to reassign my seat to an open adjacent seat. Unfortunately the flight was full. As I boarded the aircraft I asked the greeting flight attendant if I could get a seatbelt extender. She couldn’t find one as she asked a boarding passenger to “scoot up a step so I [she] can get a seat extension for this gentleman”. Again she couldn’t find one. I squeezed into the isle seat (19C) and had to ask for a seat extender twice more. On taxi out I literally had to put my arm across the isle to stop the flight attendant as he was walking down the isle. He quickly got it to me with no attempt to conceal it at all. In all fairness the Delta Airlines connecting flight from Atlanta to Shreveport was not a full flight and I was fortunate enough to have the middle seat open between a deadheading Delta pilot and myself.
    As I type this my wife and son were talking about driving to Jacksonville NC to visit my Marine son at Camp LaJuine. I would have to fly back but because of the above experience I am going to rent a car and drive 2.5 hours to Raligh Durham so I can fly Southwest Airlines back home for work. I certainly do LOVE SWA. I❤️SWA.

    1. Do the arm rests go up on SWA seats? Last time I flew, one flight had arm rests that moved and the other didn’t. The seats with arm rests that I cloud slide up were very comfortable but the seats without that option I had to cram myself into and it was actually painful. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had bought 3 seats because my hips were being crushed by the arm rests. I want to fly to a family reunion this summer but I’m not willing to have that experience again.

      1. Hi Amy, Great question. I don’t think these are standardized across airlines, since (you may or may not know) a lot of airplanes are bought and traded amongst the players in the airline industry. I would call the airline to find out if specific routes use specific planes (that then may have standardized seating) so you have an idea. I do know that Southwest tends to have good reviews from our customers of size – they do their best to accommodate.

        1. Seatguru specified which rows had arm rests that flipped up and which didn’t. I made a call to switch from row 1 to row 11 so my extra seat gives me the hip and movement room I need. Try there first and if not call the reservation number.

      2. If you are raising the arm rest, is that to allow you more room in your seat by occupying part of the seat next to you? If this is TRUE, and the person next to is a friend or family member who has agreed to share their seat with you, this is perfect! However, I have had people of size sit next to me and they raise the armrest up and by doing do encroach onto my seat. I paid for my seat, all of it. I did not agree to have my neighbor on the flight sit in my seat, squishing me against the wall.
        If you think of the person next to you WANTS you in their seat…you are WRONG…SO VERY WRONG. SEATING SUCKS AS IT IS, IT IS SOMETIMES DIFFICULT FOR PPL OF NORMAL SIZE TO BE COMFORTABLE IN THE FIRST PLACE WITHOUT HAVING SOMEONE RAISE THE ARM REST AND SIT ON THEM! YOU may reconsider raising up that armrest. If you are so large that you occupy some of the seat next to you, you still have choices, but one of these choices is NOT to sit on your neighbors seat! We dont like it, but don’t want to be rude! So we usually just deal with it, but trust me, we are unhappy and will report it.
        Your choices are 1. Dont fly. It is NOT a right! I agree the seats suck, but when I fly I sit in my seat, not the person next to me’s seat. Choice 2. Buy a first class seat. They cost more but will accommodate you without your causing issues with the ppl next to you in coach. You may just have to accept the fact that a first class seat IS your seat if any part of you encroaches in anyone else. That means huge shoulders as well.
        Oh and those of you who think its OK to get your laptop out and type while dumping me with your elbow..you guys are uber annoying! Back to the larger ppl issue, These ppl dont want you sitting on them! 3. You can purchase 2 seats. Whatever you do, just remember the person next to you paid 100 percent for their seat, you paid 0% for their seat, so dont lift the arm rest and claim real estate that is NOT UP FOR SALE. IT IS JUST PLAIN AND SIMPLY RUDE!

        1. I understand where your coming from, but you are a very rude person and people of size, color, race and everything else have the same rights as anyone else and should not have to pay for two seats, or pay for 1st class. There are many many medical reasons why someone maybe obese and penalizing them or embarrassing them should not be an option. Have a little compassion for people, open your mind and your heart, you may be in that same situation one day.

  5. Any experience flying with Wow Air? Wondering if it’s worth prebooking my seat? I fly out on Sunday. Wondering if I should book a window seat so I can kind of sit sideways if necessary to make more room. Not sure if armrests go up on this airline but thought if I had a window seat and the arm rest near the wall went up it might provide some extra room?

    1. Hi Jamie, No experience in-house but perhaps the others on this thread will have some insight. Also, might be a good idea to call the airline in advance just to touch base about any concern. Good luck to you.

    2. If you already know you wont fit, why arent you doing the right thing and but another seat, or a first class seat. More expensive,,yes but sitting part of your body on someone elses seat is inconsiderate and rude. The person next to you is going to have a miserable flight due to no fault if their own. Please, it is what it is. You cant go on some rides at DL if you are too big. If your body is sitting on a seat you did not pay for, get out and gind another place to sit. Sorry if this is harsh, but it is true. Just deal with it and plan to spend more for your flights.

      1. the big person should off 50 dollars for short flights and 100 dollars to long domestic flights to the person next to them, who is uncomfortable, with tightness of seats if the plane is full.

  6. Thank you very much for this information and for the comments. It is comforting to know I am not alone in my fear of flying because of my size. I will be taking my dream vacation to Tahiti on Monday and I unfortunately did not have an option for airlines and the flights are full so no option of moving seats around. Luckily I am surrounded by friends who will be understanding but that does not lessen the embarrassment. I did not know that SWA offered such a fantastic perk and I will take advantage of this in the future, if even for the sake of the friends I am traveling with. I especially appreciate the tip of simply taking a deep breathe, realizing the scoffers have their own issues and remember that in the end I will be in paradise.

    1. The problem the “scoffers” have is you taking up half of their seat. If you can’t fit in one, buy two. Simple solution to avoid being so rude to the innocent passengers who don’t want you sitting on them the entire flight. Can’t afford two? Save $ buy eating less.

      1. What a horrible little person you are. Did making that comment help you feel move valued as a human being? Of a person could just eat less and be sskinny don’t you think we all would? Heres an idea.. why don’t skinny people buy 2 seats to keep us fat people away from there hurtful negativity. Also ask the attendant quietly for a gag to shut you up. Happy travels.

      2. Clearly, this thread is full of people who are concerned about everyone’s comfort around them, so your rude remarks are uncalled for. People like you deserve to be uncomfortable in every aspect of life.

      3. How rude and ignorant you are, I hope and pray I never have to fly with you….grow up and have respect for everyone regardless. I feel so sorry for you.

  7. Hi, I have a few questions. If anyone could help point me in the right direction that would be great. So I’m 33 and iv never flown.(because of fear not weight) but yes I’m qute overweight at 5’8 300lbs. But I want take to take my 75yr old mother to Ireland before it’s too late.(and for that I must face my fear) So was wondering if anyone had experience with flying to Ireland (from the USA) while plus size? What airlines are best to work with? If you had to purchase an extra set or not. I know I’m fat, I know it’s not good for my health… yes I know all that… but hell I get one life might as well enjoy fat or not. But I can also understand others of average size not wanting my extra”ness” all up on them. I don’t want them under me just the same. So just looking for any advice to help both myself and fellow travelers enjoy the few hours time we must spend together…. oh and if your advice is to lose weight… yes I’m sure that would be best. However save yourself and me the time. That is not the advice I’m seeking.
    Thanks for any help/points in the right direction. Lolly

    1. Thank you for understanding your size is actually part of the problem. Consider comparing prices between buying three economy seats for the two of you vs. two business class seats…or worst case, one business, one economy.

      1. tired of elephants you are obviously a very hateful ignorant person who doesn’t have anything better to do than to get on here and give answers that obviously help no one. Maybe you should use your time more wisely to work on your nonexistent people skills instead of spouting of at the mouth just to try to hurt people.

        1. No one is trying to hurt anyone!! I dont want a stranger sitting in my seat! Is that so reduculous? If so, why dont you make a point of sitting right to someone this big on your future flights? Save someone who feels he needs to sit all by himself in his own, paid for seat some relief.

    2. In 2016 I flew from Texas to Sweden via British Airways. I am a tall and wide hipped woman. About a size 2X. I did research on their seat widths and leg room and paid extra money to fly business class. While I did end up with extra leg room, the seats width did not help me at all. I had lots of empty seats next to me but as mentioned by a previous comment, the arms did not go up. They were a stationary solid piece of metal in which the lap trays folded into. The seat belt did just barely go around without the extender. But I was miserable the entire flight and was so crammed in that I had tears from the pain and was sore to the touch of my thighs for days later. On the small flight from London to Gothenburg I had way more hip room than the transatlantic flight! I fly out again in Feb. 2017 to see a new grandbaby. I am going to try the two seat option this time. I am also going to check out some other airlines. Not to happy with British airways customer service. A flight attendant kept trying to get me to use the lap tray. I had to explain to her that it would not lay flat due t my thighs. All my life even when I was younger and 100 pounds lighter I have had large muscular thighs and long legs that did not fit under trays and desks. I filed a complaint about several issues but never heard back from them.

      1. Also on the British Airway Business class seat…The solid metal seats contain the buttons to lower and raise your back rest. Yes the buttons are on the inside wall, right wear my heavy thighs sat. Every time I attempted to get comfortable the seat would shift. And at landing I was unable to raise the back without getting help. Very embarrassing.

    3. Hi there, I’m tall and wide and flew to Great Britain and Paris several times. American and United are about the same, width wise, and British Airways was narrower but I fit into it anyways. You have the right mind set, don’t put off your trip with Mom due to your size! Try to get an extra seat if possible. Once I had to come back very ill (how rude of me) and the flight attendants gave me three seats. Also, for everyone telling us how rude it is: I’d rather my hip rub yours for five hours instead of missing a family event. You can use me as a big pillow to lean on as you sleep, I won’t mind. Being uncomfortable is part of the deal.

      1. You would rather have your hip rub against someone else for five hours? You can be used as a big pillow for someone to lean on? It IS extremely rude for you to decide it is your place to make decisions for other people. You clearly don’t care if you make other people uncomfortable, obviously the only one that matters is you. Sure, take up part of someone else’s seat, tough luck for them, right?

    1. Hi Lori. This is a good question, but a really personal choice to be honest. Perhaps other folks on the thread can help. Flying first class is probably going to be more expensive, but if you can afford the ticket might offer the best service and comfort. Purchasing two seats is another very solid tactic. It just boils down to personal preference and budget.

  8. I’m a overweight girl, who’s wide in the hips. I’m flying wth frontier airlines. Are their seats and seat belts a decent size?

    1. I believe Frontier does offer seatbelt extenders (if needed). All commercial airline seats are on the small side these days. Good luck to you. Perhaps some others on the thread have suggestions for flying Frontier specifically.

    2. Just flew them from slc to atlanta. Worst seats, worst everything ever! It was a horrible mess. Their seats are small and uncomfortable, the arm rest is little, its too small to use, but big enough to stab you. No entertainment, seats dont recline…..none of them.
      Hopefully they have other planes, but for us, never again. I didnt mention the endless delays, check out the comments people make on their page and on trio advisor first. I wish i had.

  9. Hailey, I know a bit about Frontier so I’ll let you know the good and the bad

    The middle seat is now 19.3″ wide (example on the 737 which southwest uses its 17.0″ Airbus A319/320/321 which Jetblue and Frontier uses is 17.8″)
    As I said above the other seats on Frontier are 17.8 which is almost an inch wider than Southwest and other 737s

    1. Seats are “pre-reclined” which means you will not be able to find what level of recline you like
    2. Seats offer very little legroom 28-29″ inches the average is 31-32″ and Jetblue offers 34″
    (if you can afford it, I would go into your reservation and book their stretch seats they are 36-38″ of legroom and do recline…BTW the recline lever is in an unusal place it is in the front and under the seat just like the lever that you use in your car to move the seat up and back for more legroom)
    3. seats are supposedly not very comfortable, they have removed some of the padding in order to fit more seats. Stretch seats are supposed to have more padding but some people say they don’t.

    Some things to know in general
    1, Frontier has a STRICT 45 minute check-in policy you must have your bag checked and your boarding pass with you 45 minutes prior to flight time or they will deny you boarding. There are news artciles about how people who got to the counter with 43 minutes before departure time and were denied boarding. Also please be aware if you stand in a long line for 30 minutes and that causes you to not be checked in 45 minutes before departure, they will deny boarding they don’t care (by they I mean Frontier Corporate, not the agents they have no leway the computer won’t let them).
    2. Carry-on and checked baggage NEITHER are free. You get 1 personal item like a briefcase or a small backpack for free. Purchasing before you get to the airport will be lower
    3. Soda and snacks are not free. Water is available for free but only a cup poured from a big 2 liter bottle of water.

    So basically Frontier offers a great fare usually but isn’t the most pleasant airline

  10. I am flying for the first time (!) and will be flying United. Being a large person (5’6″, 290lbs) I am so worried about being embarrassed when I board. My husband’s company has bought the tickets, as it’s a business trip and spouses are coming along. So purchasing an extra seat is probably out of the question. I don’t mind asking for an extender if needed, although that would be embarrassing too. I guess I’m just so nervous… 1st flight and really have no idea what to expect.

    1. Hi Amy, first time flyers are often anxious. It’s normal! I would reach out to United before you fly in order to soothe your nerves a bit. You can express your concerns. Usually, flight attendants go out of their way to offer discreet assistance with extenders – you should never be anything other than comfortable when traveling. If it’s any consolation, my mother-in-law (who is close to 70 and also a larger person), finally took HER first flight from Buffalo to Los Angeles just to visit the grandkids this year. Her verdict? It was a piece of cake and she’s going to do it again! You’ll be just fine. Good luck to you!

  11. Hello,
    I just wanted to sincerely THANK YOU guys for writing this article and for all those who participate on the message board. I am 5’5″, 315lbs and have been dreading my flight in September. I’m flying with my mom, whom is smaller than I am, but none the less is also “a person of size”. We typically fly with smaller relatives and have them take the middle seat, but no such luxury this go round. I thought, to avoid the hassle of some poor unfortunate individual having to sit with us, I would purchase a third seat. I remembered on the news it being a requirment of SWA anyway and upon Googling for any information about it, came across this web article.
    I am so relieved. The tricky part for me will be purchasing the third seat. My name is on the itenarary but my mom purchased our tickets. I don’t want to mess up our flight as it stands. But I looked up our itenaarary and saw the link! labled “Customers of Size” with a telephone number to call to help make arrangments. Hopefully SouthWest will allow me to just purchase my extra seat iwth MY credit card so as not to complicate things for my mom.

    Does anyone have any suggestions are advice regarding adding the third seat purchased by the accompanying passenger? Or will it be as easy as modifying the itenarary with the third seat addition?

  12. I’ve flown recently and although I fit into the seat ok, I couldn’t get the belt around my belly. Too embarrassed to say anything, I tucked it and wasn’t asked about it on both the out/return flights. Now I must fly again for work and my boss will be there who I’m sure will make a big deal about it for safety purposes. Does United offer seat belt extenders?

  13. im 5’5 230lbs. I’m wondering what would be a better choice Window or Aisle seat? I’ve always sat at the window thinking it gave me a little extra room but should I be sitting on the aisle?

    1. It really comes down to personal preference, Missy. Some of the other folks on this thread may also have advice based on personal experience with certain airlines.

  14. Missy. You will have no issues fitting into seats or seat belts. This only became an issue for me when I hit 275, I’m 5’6″ and 302 lbs now. I still fit in the seatbelt just a little smooshed between the armrests.
    Fortunately I only fly on vacation and have my 2 children sitting with me. We lift up both arm rests then feel like we are sitting on a bench! Plenty of room. Aisle is a little more flexible seat except when drink cart is there. Best of luck ! Enjoy.

  15. I’d like to travel more, but I have a great fear of getting stuck in an airplanes tiny bathroom. I’m 5’10” and 335lbs. Are the first class bathrooms larger? If so, if we are flying economy, are we allowed to use them? Are there hand rails in the bathrooms? I flew from PHX to LA and just held it till I got to the airport, but that could be troubling on a longer flight. Thanks.

    1. Hi Belinda, I’m not aware that First Class bathrooms are larger on domestic flights, but the bathroom size also has something to do with the kind of aircraft you’re flying on. In general, you’re suppose to stay in Economy and not use the First Class amenities. As far as I know, there are not hand rails in most airplane bathrooms (which are quite small, as you know).

  16. Stupid question but do airline have a seat at an airport we could go see if my husband will have to purchase a second seat or not? He will be setting next to my tiny 5 year old daughter so she won’t complain about him being in her space (she is usually right on top of him all the time anyways).. is there any airlines you suggest for being “size” friendly? I keep leaning towards southwest.. but the 3 hour drive each way has me vouching back and forth.

    1. Hi Kimmykay, You might want to reference seatguru.com to find out exactly how large the seats are on your particular airline/flight. They have a lot of detailed information about the size of the seats on each airline.

  17. Does anyone know about international flights? I’m supposed to fly to Korea next year. This is the first time I will have been on an airplane since the late 90’s. At 5’9″ and 350 or more lbs, I am concerned. I don’t want to embarrass myself at the airport. I’m already going to have a hard enough time as the only foreigner in a Korean family in Seoul, with all my large, tall, light hair and eyes self. My husband will be flying with me, and he is quite slim, so might that save us the extra seat issue? He only weighs about 165-170 and is 6′. My son may also come with us, so should that remedy our issue, if we can get a whole row to ourselves? Thanks in advance! 🙂

    1. The best way to alleviate your concerns would be to make sure your family is sitting together. You can definitely arrange this in most cases with the airlines before the flight date (sometimes at a cost and sometimes not). Good luck to you!

  18. Why should an airline accomodate a large person by giving them a seat next to an empty seat? I am not fat, but I would like to sit next to an empty seat as well. Who wouldn’t? As far as an airline employee being discreet about handing a large person a seat belt extender – what is the point? Everyone can already see that a particular person is fat whether or not they happen to hear mention of a seat belt extender or not. As for the arm rests – fat flyers always ask if I mind if they put them up. This is code for asking “do you mind if I occupy half of the seat you paid for with my fat butt and thighs?” I always reply that I would prefer them down. I should be allowed to to enjoy every inch of the seat I paid for without being crushed by the sweaty flesh of my neighbor. Finally, fat people should not be given an aisle seat, for safety reasons. If I am seated inboard of a fat person, my ability to get from my seat to an aisle, and on to an exit, is compromised if I cannot get past the fat person on the aisle who takes a long time to get out of the seat and a long time to waddle toward the exit.

    1. I fly a lot and while I don’t have the issues a large person has traveling I appreciate the information for those that are getting past the nerves of flying because of their weight. I’m amazed at the few that feel it necessary to air their meanness at people they don’t know. TopShelf is just mean and you’ve added nothing to this helpful post except to show what kind of person you are.

  19. Don’t cast blame to Topshelf so quickly. If you allow yourself to be of a certain size, your confort is at the expense of the comfort of those beside you. Please be courteous to those of us of normal size and purchase the extra seat if your measurements are beyond the constraint of the seat. I’m not trying to be insulting pr confrontational, the act of allowing your body into my chair is subsidizing my confort for yours.

    1. I am in complete agreement with you especially as a very large man I feel it is my responsibility to purchase another seat but I should not be degraded by a jerk because of it

  20. Hello. I already know about SWA and there refund policy on purchasing an extra seat but I am trying to get to Dubai from Birmingham, AL this year. I dont mind purchasing the extra seat as long as I get my money back. Does SWA fly around the world? If not, who else is similar to them?

    1. Hi LaShan, Southwest is primarily a domestic North American carrier (they also do fly to a few select destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean). Southwest has (historically) gone it alone – so I can’t offer you a list of international airlines that they codeshare with (codesharing is a group of airlines working in cooperation to share some flights so they tend to have the same sort of administrative rules/features, etc.) I would look into airlines like United/American, etc. that do work with a North American clientele to get the best service. Having said that, it’s certainly worth it to have a chat with Emirates. They have one of the best customer service reps in the business – so it can’t hurt to ask about their policy on purchasing an extra seat.

  21. Hi I’m both big and tall 6’5. I’m flying transcontinental NY-CA. After looking at all the airlines policies and seating charts. I narrowed my choice down to JetBlue either 2 seats plus adding the “even more space” for both seats or a Mint seat (in the row with the single seat suite 22in wide seat pitch 60) I was able to book the Mint seat 3 months before and it ended up being $240 cheaper then purchasing the 2 seats with even more space. Hope I’m comfy without the extra seat next to me.

  22. Hi, I am very interested in awareness, solutions, and advocacy for issues related to persons of size, specifically with respect to air travel. I think we need solutions that balance the needs of everyone involved from the persons of size, to their adjacent travellers, to the airline employees. Towards that goal, I’ve created http://www.personofsize.com with short articles I have written about different aspects of the subject. I’ll be adding more over time – and on the site I ask for your feedback. I hope it is helpful to you.

  23. I booked flights through a travel agency. I have not flown in over 40 years, so it didn’t occur to me to ask about seating for an overweight person. The travel agent informed me that SWA does not fly to my destination. My flight is now booked and paid, so it is to late to change airlines. I am flying American Airline [airbus]. Does anyone have any feedback? I did call to ask the airline about overweight passengers, they totally ignored my concern on suggestions for seating etc. Anyone have info?

  24. Book first class because the seats are usually very wide, lots of space, and you can customise the food for special dietary restrictions -requests (just like coach)–but the food is much better.

    It is a combo of us “food,” diet, exercise, depression, toxic country, endless stress, constant wars, job insecurity, no real health care, etc.. that causes such obesity prevalence. Sad for many many folks.

    Thank you.

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