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Am I too fat to fly? Tips for Making Your Plus Size Air Travel Experience Better

Travel can be stressful for anyone.

But if you’re booking your next (or first!) plane ticket wondering “am I too fat to fly” chances are you’re outright dreading travel.

This can be an even bigger concern for travelers who have experienced weight gain and are flying for the first time after.

I’m no air travel expert, but I know it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It never is for me!

I’m no stranger to travel.

I admit it can be anxiety-inducing (but so is everything else for me!).

But having a bigger body doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to have a bad trip.

Yes, there are a TON of nightmare stories out there from plus size travelers.

But most of us get on a plane and arrive at our destination without any massive setbacks.

To help you get through your next (or first!) plus size air travel experience, I’ve compiled all my best tips and tricks.

Having a good experience is all about feeling comfortable and confident, whether that means having a little extra space or using a seat belt extender.

From packing tips to advice on how to deal with security, we’ve got you covered.

So sit back, relax, and fasten your seatbelt extender — things are about to get a little less dicey!

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Tips for comfortable plus size air travel

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1. You are not too fat to fly!

First and foremost, you are NOT too fat to fly.

Thousands of people travel by plane everyday, and guess what?

Many of them are larger than you!

There is no weight or size limit for passengers on airplanes, no “airline obesity policies” that you need to worry about, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

You can have a stellar flying experience regardless of your size.

But there are two important size-related items I want to draw your attention to:

Plane seat sizes

While there is no weight limit for plane passengers plane seats can be hella small. Seriously TINY!

While you can sometimes find larger seats with premium, first or business class tickets, there’s no guarantee and not everyone can afford them.

That’s where policies like Southwest’s Customer of Size (COS) rule comes in handy.

The COS rule allows you to access extra seating by booking a second seat for your journey so you have a little extra room.

Then, once your journey is done, you get a refund for that ticket.

This extra seat policy is so popular among the plus size community that we have an entire blog post dedicated to it — make sure to read it for more details!

Image: Amazon

Seatbelt extenders

In addition to the crappy seat sizes, the second big concern about being too fat to fly is the plane seatbelts.

And yes, these babies tend to be smaller — that’s where seatbelt extenders come in.

Requiring a seatbelt extension isn’t something to be ashamed of.

When seatbelts on planes become damaged the seatbelt is simply shortened to remove the damaged part instead of replacing the entire seatbelt.

This means that there’s no standard seatbelt size, and you could require an extender on one plane and not the next.

Honestly, it’s not you. It’s the seatbelt.

Asking the cabin crew for an extender just helps to ensure you have a better, more comfortable experience.

But if you’re really concerned about it, most (sadly not all) cabin crew members are wildly respectful and kind when it comes to handing these bad boys out.

Just ask when you board the plane, and they’ll bring it to you discreetly once you’re seated.

2. Dress comfortably for your day in the air

Dressing comfortably for air travel is key to having a good experience.

Here are some tips on what to wear on the plane:

  • Comfortable shoes: There is a lot of sitting then walking, then sitting again. I recommend shoes that are easy to slip on and off, like sneakers or flats, in case you need to take them off during the flight.
  • Layered clothing: The air on planes can get chilly, so it’s always a good idea to wear layers. If you start to feel cold you can put on a jacket or scarf. And if you get too warm, you can always take some layers off (without undressing!).
  • Ditch the jeans: I know, I know. You look so good in your favorite pair of skinny jeans. But trust me, they’re not worth it. Opt for something more comfortable like leggings or joggers.
  • Avoid anything too tight: Tight clothes (like, for example, jeans) are just uncomfortable when sitting for long periods of time. Try looser clothing that allows for more movement.

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3. Prepare for airport security in advance

Airport security is probably the thing about air travel that leaves me the most anxiety ridden.

I always feel like I’ve done something really bad and am about to get arrested — for literally no reason.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help make the process go way smoother.

Here are a few tops for making the security experience a breeze:

1. Make sure your liquids are in a quart-sized bag and that each container is 3.4 ounces or less. While it’s no guarantee, I use a big similar to these ones to pack my liquids in and it’s worked every time!

2. Make sure your laptop is easily accessible and can turn on. When it’s time, place it in a separate bin from your other belongings.

3. Wear slip-on shoes to make taking them off easier.

4. Have your boarding pass and ID ready to go.

5. Empty your pockets of anything that could set off the metal detector.

6. Don’t forget to put everything back in your bag after security!

By following these simple tips, you can make the security process much easier on yourself — and those around you.

And yes, random checks are a real and anxious experience, but I’ve done them and they’re over in a minute or two!

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4. Bring entertainment!

You’ll want to bring your own entertainment on the plane.

It’s a great way to pass the time and make your experience more fun and less frustrating.

Sure, the airline offers entertainment options, but they tend to be limited and pricey.

So, save yourself the money and plan ahead.

Here are a few things you might want to consider bringing:

1. iPad or tablet: Movies is my go-to for plane travel, the last time I was on a plan I binge-watched Tom Hanks films that I had pre-downloaded. You can also get some serious game time in, if that’s more your style!

2. Books: Throw a book or two in your carry-on, perhaps something with a plus size heroine? You can also buy a book at the airport, but they tend to be pricey.

3. Portable charger: There’s nothing worse than getting half way through a movie and having the screen go blank because you forgot to charge your device. A portable charger can ensure you don’t run out of battery on your journey.

4. Travel pillow and blanket: These can help you get comfortable and make it easier to sleep on the plane (if you’re into that sort of thing). I highly recommend making your “blanket” a blanket scarf or Turkish cotton towel so it can pull double-duty on your trip.

5. Travel journal: Journaling is an overall great practice to help curb anxiety and boost confidence, but it can also be a great way to pass time and document your travels. I use a digital journal with my Apple Pencil, but a hard copy with a good ole fashioned pen would work too!

Image: Amazon

5. Staying comfortable while you fly

Flying can be a really uncomfortable experience, especially if you’re not used to it.

Even if you have the extra space set aside, there are a few tips for making the process a little more bearable:

1. Get up and move: Sitting in the same position for hours on end is not good for your body or mind. If your on a 1 or 2 hour flight you’re probably OK to just sit. But if you’re on a long haul flight, a 4 hour flight or more, movement is going to be key.

2. Wear compression clothing: We already covered talked about wearing comfortable clothing, but compression clothing can help keep that blood flowing. I recommend going with a full-on legging, but socks work if leggings aren’t comfortable for you.

3. Bring snacks and drinks to stay hydrated and fueled. Airplane food can be really expensive, bringing your own means saving money. But remember that you can’t bring over 100 ml of liquid in a single bottle, so you’ll need to buy something once you’re through security or bring a water bottle that can be filled!

4. Go to the bathroom before you board: Having to go pee is often unavoidable, but if you can try going before you board the plane. Airplane bathrooms are tiny and there aren’t really any tricks or tips to make navigating them with a big body any easier (gah, I wish there was!).

5. Bring headphones to block out noise: While any headphone will do, noise cancelling are going to be the best. I travel with my Airpods Pro which help block out most of the noise around me.

Image: Amazon

6. How to deal with lost luggage

Sometimes your luggage doesn’t arrive at your destination at the same time you do.

This is a real bummer, but it’s not all that uncommon in airplane travel.

Luckily, because it’s common, there’s a pretty solid step-by-step process to resolve the situation as quickly as possible:

  1. Contact the airline: You want to let them know what happened, so they can start tracking down your luggage. In a lot of cases, it simply didn’t make it onto the plane in time. This is especially common if you’re switching flights along your journey.
  2. Replace what you need: If you’re traveling with friends of family, you might be able to gather clothes, toiletries and other necessities from them to use until your luggage arrives. If you travel solo like I do, buying a few things is the simple solution.
  3. Follow up with the airline: If your luggage hasn’t arrived in a few days, you’ll need to file a claim.

Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s frustrating.

And no, you don’t deserve this. But it happens.

With all of this in mind, there’s a quick solution you can do to help alleviate the stress of losing your luggage before it happens.

Pack your most important things in your carry-on.

In most cases, your carry on and personal item stay with you throughout your entire journey.

So it’s the best place to pack what you don’t want to lose like important documents and travel insurance information.

I also recommend packing at least one outfit (preferably two!) along with a swimsuit in your carry on.

Things like tooth brushes are easy to replace, but finding plus size clothes at a new destination is not a great experience!

Image: Amazon

Ready to book your next trip?

Flying can be a stressful experience for anyone, but it can be especially challenging if you’re plus size.

It’s really important to keep in mind that you are not too fat to fly.

You deserve to get on that plane just as much as anyone else there.

With a bit of preparation and planning, your air travel experience can be more comfortable, and dare I say it, fun.

It comes down to making the best choices for you and packing what you need.

If you’re worried about planning your trip, there’s nothing wrong with talking to a travel agent.

They can help guide you and book a trip you’re excited to go on!

Do you have any other tips for flying while plus size? Let me know in the comments below!

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