A Big Girl Rant: Plus Size Travel


It was 8am and my plane was boarding.

It wasn’t till I made my way past First Class (I’m not that fabulous… yet) that I remembered something I forgot to do before this trip:


Every time I travel on a plane I swear up and down that the next time I fly I will have lost ____ pounds figuring that if I loose enough, perhaps I will get on a plane and not stress about what seat I’m in and how comfortable I (and the people next to me) will be.

First I sit down, trying not to bruise my hips as they slide past the arm rests. I usually choose a window seat because the idea of sitting in the middle seat is just torture and while the aisle seems like a good idea, who really wants their arm banged by a soda cart? Not me!

Next comes the battle of the arm rest. I put it up, to give myself a little more space and 9 times out of 10 it stays there, but then there is that one passenger who tries to push it back down, possibly bruising my hip again! Sometimes they say “oh sorry” and put it back up, but sometimes they don’t… which leaves me traveling with an armrest cutting into me for hours (maybe the cart banging into my arm isn’t such a bad thing…)

And when I fly home to see my parents? Forget it! They live in a relatively small city and so I’m often on older, smaller jets with seat belts that rarely fit. This means that if the flight attendant notices that I am attempting to sit on/hide my too small seat belt, she will ask me to “buckle up” and then I will have to ask her to look in her little airplane closet and bring me… a seat belt extender!

Usually my Big Girl Rants are reserved for other people, but honestly this one is for me. Every time I travel I go through these things, but the person who has the power to change my experience is me.

I don’t have any travel plans involving a plane until the holidays, lets see if I can make the necessary changes so my luggage is the only thing stuffed into a plane.

  • Anonymous

    I just went to Sydney from Pennsylvania. For me, that consisted of a 20minute flight (on a tiny jet), a 6 hour flight, and then a 14.5 hour flight. I'm 'plus size' as well, but for some reason I wasnt that uncomfortable. I think I prepared myself ahead of time well, I made sure I wasn't wearing bulky clothes that would just create more bunching at the armrest, I sat in the aisle so as to not have to squeeze past people, etc. On the positive side, I lost 20 pounds on my vacation so the trip back was slightly better.
    I'm with you though, I will definitely lose weight (I'm working on it!) before my next trip back there.

  • Anonymous

    Oh! And I made sure to ask right away for a seat belt extender, it really wasn't as embarassing as I thought it was going to be. Nobody gave me funny looks or anything, I just said to the flight attendants as one would go past checking the overhead bins "I'll need a seatbelt extender please" and they'd say sure just a minute and then bring me one. Once I sucked it up and asked, that was the least stressful part!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01233007341124315348 chocdrop

    The plane ride for vegas almost 2 years ago was the same for me. I did ask for the extender as soon as I boarded while people were more distracted. I took the window seat for the same reasons as you. I have not lost a single pound and dread the next flight. I have not been graced the kind of money that allows me 1st class.

    I will admit the only time I flew 1st class they bothered the crap out of me. No peace. But the seats were fantastic!!! I fit all the way in…lol

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10667729638605275925 Katherine

    It is well-known that a large portion of the American population is plus-sized, yet airplane manufacturers keep making air plane seats for teeny people. As an engineer, I'd be appalled to continue to produce inferior or inadequate designs. Bad engineers! No donuts for you!

  • http://watchwithfunnybits.blogspot.com Snickerdoodle

    just found your blog…LOVE IT! i'm off to hawaii for all expenses paid trip. the flight! ack! here we go. so much is left to chance on these things…hopefully i won't sit next to an asshole or a mean skinny bitch who just binged and purged or something.

    hawaii will be interesting for the big girl, but as my friend pointed out: the whole state is big people!

    keep on bloggin sistah!

  • Anonymous

    hey chica,
    always try to book the seats right behind first class. they're usually larger and have more leg room. And you can save hassle by buying your own seatbelt extender–they're pretty inexpensive.

    me and my hubby, who is also plus size, were flying to jamaica and the skinny a-hole next to him made such a fuss about the "extra space" my husband took up that the flight attendant put us both in first-class. it was awesome.


  • Dorothy

    (Sorry, I know this is from a long time ago, but I just recently found your blog and have been going through the back log a bit) I've traveled by plane (for the first time!) twice in the past 2 months! The seat belt issue didn't occur to me until I was sitting on the plane, trying to get those LAST FEW CENTIMETERS to go so I could close it, and wondering how on earth I would survive the plane ride without breathing. Luckily, the flight attendant was very observant and discreet, and brought me a seat belt extender without my having to ask/bring attention to myself. On the subsequent planes, I'll check to see if it fits (~50% of the time it does… even on the same type of plane! Weird…) and if it doesn't, I will ask the flight attendant. I've accepted the fact that people aren't going to be surprised by the fact that I need one… I mean, it's not like they can't see my size! Thanks for sharing your experiences!! It makes me feel like I'm not so alone in my struggles :)

  • http://www.nicoleisthenewblack.com nicoleisthenewblack

    i feel the same way, i travel often, too often it seems and I just want to lose weight for comfort reasons. i hate the battle of the arm rest, and i think if my bum wasnt so big, i could sit farther back in the seat and then have more leg room. its just mega uncomfortable. i am slowly getting back into working out and eating better, i am sure if i lost just a few inches, i would feel a bit more comfortable in those damned tiny sheets

  • Elle

    I’m 5’10 size 16, and I generally found that Delta has more comfortable seats then southwest. (Those are the only airlines I ever fly.) Even when it comes to leg room, Delta is just better.

  • Christy

    When I thinner, I never even thought about things like seat belts being an issue.

    Since then though, I am about forty plus pounds heavier, I have been traveling a lot more lately because of a new job.

    Well, let me tell you that I think about seat belts and my size ALL THE TIME now!

    For example:
    When I book my flight,I always try to book the window seat so that I can lean on it rather than bothering my seatmate. When I arrive at the airport, I hope that the flight isn’t overbooked so that hopefully I’m lucky enough to have a buffer seat. When I wait in line to board, I feel like everyone hopes that don’t have to sit next to me. As I walk through the aisle looking for my seat, I hope that I’m the first to arrive (I always try and get priority seating) so that I have time to settle in without too many onlookers. Finally when I sit, I see if the seat belt fits. I have never asked for an extender because I fear that I would burst into tears if I did. So I squeeze myself into sometimes pushing myself to so that the seat belt clears my stomach so it closes. I don’t get up AT ALL the rest of the flight (No matter how much I have too). The rest of the flight I just try to not bother anyone and keep to myself until we arrive.

    I do this all the time.
    I keep telling myself that I will try to lose some eight before my next trip, but of course, I never do.

  • MilaXX

    You can buy a universal seat belt extender. I think the website is called Living XL. It’s just one less thing to drive you crazy.

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  • Rebecca

    Hi all,

    There is no doubt about it… I am a plus sized chica, and I travel all the time for work. I try to board the plane first so I (1) don’t bump into people as I make my way down the aisle and (2) to get to my seat first and have a chance to raise the armrest before the other passengers arrive. I also try to get a seat towards the back of the plane so (1) most people don’t have to walk by me and (2) the trek to the washroom, if needed, is not as far. (see point #1 for boarding). I have also learned to ask for the seat belt extender as soon as I board the plane, when the flight attendant is checking my boarding pass. S/he is usually able to hand it to me discreetly before I proceed down the aisle.

    I am one of those who prefer the aisle seat. I definitely have to pay attention to the cart as it passes up and down the aisle, but it allows me a few more inches to gently lean into the aisle, and hopefully keep my seatmate happy. If you are willing to suffer a few bumps and bruises, I would recommend the aisle. You should also note that the aisle seat in many airplanes can come up. You need to learn the locking mechanism. Some of them are under the armrest, and others are nestled between the armrest and the seat cushion. Ask your friendly flight attendant and they should be able to tell you whether or not yours can be moved. This makes travel much more comfortable.

    For those who weight a lot more, I would not recommend the seats behind first class as, generally speaking, the armrests don’t move. This is sometimes true for exit rows as well.

    I hope these pointers help some of you!

  • Gusto

    its lose not loose

  • cay

    keep one thing in mind, the airlines for years have been removing the “2″ seats that were originally in the planes and putting 3 in their place to generate more revenue.