Plus Size Flying Tips

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Tips and Guidance for Plus Size Travellers

Find out what you can do to help make air travel more comfortable if you are plus sized.

Plus Size Air Travel

 

For passengers who are plus sized, air travel is a daunting thought when having to fit into the confined spaces of an airline seat. However, it does not mean that you are ‘too fat to fly’. Instead, with some extra planning and considerations, you should be able to able to fly comfortably.

Although most airlines are currently working to maximise profits by fitting as many people into a plane as possible, we’ve analysed the seat sizes and pitches to find the best airlines for plus size and heavy passengers to help you choose the best airline to fly with.

Tips for flying overweight

Choose your airline wisely

Be sure to check out the best airlines for plus size and heavy passengers further down this page. Some airlines also have policies for passengers of size, so make sure to see if your airline has one, and what about the details of it. Some airlines have different names for their policies, so look out for policies such as ‘passengers of size’, ‘obese policy’, ‘overweight policy’ or ‘plus size policy’.

Contact the airline

If you can’t find enough information on the airline you wish to travel with, especially with regards to their plus size policy, the best option is to contact them directly to see what they can do to help you travel. Don’t be afraid to ask if they can book you an additional seat free of charge, or at least select your seat where you can be most comfortable.

Request a seatbelt extender

Although not a solution to being uncomfortable in your seat, passengers can request a seatbelt extender for their flight. This will make the seatbelt less restrictive and tight, whilst still complying to safety standards.

Consider add-ons

You may want to consider booking a seat on the plane so that you can choose the aisle seat where you will be able to stretch out more and will not need to move past the other passengers to get out. Alternatively, you may wish to ask to board last, so that you do not need to squeeze past people trying to put their bags in the overhead compartment, and instead just walk on board and straight to your seat. Another way round this is to purchase priority boarding, that you have time to get comfortable before the other passengers board.

Check your aircraft you will be flying on

On alternative airlines, you can check what aircraft you will be flying on. Although it varies airline to airline, newer planes tend to be more spacious and comfortable so try looking for flights using the Boeing 787 or Airbus A350.

Check the seat sizes

Although most airlines have bigger seats in first or business class, these are higher priced and therefore not an option for all travellers. Instead, you can check out our page on the airlines with the biggest seats in economy, to find out which airline you will be most comfortable in. In addition, make sure you do your research before travelling, especially if your airline isn’t on that page, to find out the airlines with the widest economy seats.

Discover other people’s experiences

It may be helpful to know that you are not alone as a plus size traveller. Read our interview with plus-size travel blogger Kirsty Leanne, to find out about her experiences and travel tips for plus size travellers.

Best airlines for
Plus size travellers

The following list is some of the best airlines for plus-size travellers to use. This information is based upon many things, such as their policy, attitude and most importantly their seat size. However, the seat width’s and sizes vary depending on the aircraft using, so be sure to check details such as aircraft type when booking. The average seat width in economy tends to be around 17-18inches, so anything above that is considered more spacious.

Aegean Airlines

Aegean Airlines is one of the only airlines which provide 18 inches of seat width in economy class on long-haul flights.

Aeroflot

Although not ranked highly for economy class, this airline’s business and first class are a great option for passengers who are willing to spend a little more for their short-haul flights. With most aircraft in the fleet having seats with 21 inches of width, and 38 inches of seat pitch, the airline is roomy for short-haul flights.

Air Canada

Air Canada is one of the best airlines in the world for short-haul flights, with economy class seats in its Beechcraft 1900D being 20.2 inches wide. Air Canada’s policy (read more below) also means that obesity is classed as a disability, and so passengers are permitted to request an additional seat free of charge.

Bangkok Airways

Bangkok Airlines is one of the best Asian airlines for plus-size passengers, with a seat width of 19.8 inches on three of its Airbus planes.

China Southern Airlines

This Chinese Airline is only slightly behind Bangkok Airlines for asian airlines, with seat width measuring 19.7 inches, with other planes in its fleet providing 19.5 inches. This airline is also great for its first and business class seats on short-haul flights, with most aircraft in the fleet providing around 24 inches for seat width.

Delta Air Lines

Passengers flying domestically within the U.S. will be pleased to know that Delta do not require passengers to purchase an extra seat. In addition, they have been known to make extra efforts to seat plus-size travellers next to any extra seats for their own comfort.

JetBlue

JetBlue seats are slightly larger than average for economy class, but their premium economy class is where it really wins for plus size passengers. For only a small price increase, passengers can get so much value from the premium ticket, with seats with a 38-inch pitch and also priority boarding. In addition, JetBlue announced in 2018 that they do not require passengers to purchase an additional seat, as it is totally up to the passenger.

Singapore Airlines

Looking for economy class seats for long haul flights with lots of room and good seat width? Look no further than Singapore Airlines, who provide 19 inches of seat width on many of their aircraft. Singapore Airlines is also roomy for long-haul business class seats, with seat width mostly at 30 to 28 inches.

Spirit Airlines

It may surprise people that this ultra-low-cost airline is generous for its seat width. However, this airline provides passengers with 20 inches of seat width on many of their different aircraft, making it a great option for cheap North-American and domestic flights.

United Airlines

United Airlines have the facility on some aircraft to provide special seating for passengers who are flying overweight. These larger seats have a maximum of 20.5 inches for the seat width, so it may be worth investigating which routes United fly with these seats to find out where you can be most comfortable.

Uzbekistan Airways

This airline is considered one of the best for its short-haul economy seats. On the airline’s Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, passengers can enjoy 21.25 inches of seat width in economy. In addition, its short-haul first class flights on the same aircraft has almost 24 inches for seat width!

Airline Policies for Passengers of Size

The following list comprises some popular airlines, along with their policies regarding plus-size passengers

Air Canada

Air Canada is noted for having one of the best plus size traveller airline policies, partly due to the fact that obesity is recognised as a disability in Canada. Passengers can contact Air Canada directly at least 24 hours before departure and request special seats with liftable or removable armrests, additional space and legroom for when flying between the U.S. and Canada. For those flying elsewhere, passengers can request an extra seat when disabled by obesity.

Air France

Air France recommend that passengers purchase a second seat on the plane with them if their waist measurements are larger than the seat width. Passengers will then get a empty seat next to them to be able to be comfier and safer. If purchasing an additional seat in economy, passengers will receive a 25% discount when booking with Air France directly. In addition, if there are empty seats on the plane at the time of flying, passengers will reimburse the price of the second seat.

Alaska Airlines

As part of their customers of size policy, Alaska require passengers to purchase an additional seat who cannot easily and comfortably sit in their seat with the armrests down.

Allegiant Air

Passengers who do not fit into the 17.8 inch seat comfortably with the armrests down must purchase two seats at the time of booking. The airline will then assign two seats next to each other, free of charge.

American Airlines

American Airlines state on their website that passengers who’s body extends more than 1 inch over the armrest, and a seatbelt extender is required, then passengers will need to purchase an additional seat. You should contact the airline directly when booking to make sure that you get 2 adjacent seats.

British Airways

Passengers who cannot sit in their seat without fully lowering both armrests must purchase an additional seat when flying with British Airways.

Delta Air Lines

Delta does not require passengers of size to book an additional seat on their flights, however they do recommend it for passengers who need extra space.

Frontier

Passengers have to purchase an additional seat if they will not be able to lower both armrests.

Finnair

Finnair passengers can reserve an additional seat by calling Finnair customer services directly. Passengers will have to pay the airfare and fuel surcharge but not the tax.

KLM

Like Air France, KLM also offer passengers a 25% reduction on the second ticket price if they are purchasing a second seat and they can apply to get the ticket cost refunded if there are spare seats on the flight.

Hawaiian Airlines

Passengers who need additional room on the 18inch Hawaiian Airlines planes are highly encouraged to book an additional seat in advance of flying.