Thanks to Marianne at The Rotund for her recent post – Death Fats With Wings: 10 Tips For Flying at 300 Pounds
Please read it if you get a chance. It’s a great guide for Traveling While Fat — which, as we know, isn’t that easy to do these days (with seat widths getting smaller and airlines cutting down on flights and using fat people as customer ire scapegoats).
I wanted to relay my recent experience with flying Southwest Airlines while fat. SWA, if you might recall, was one of the first US airlines to openly state that it will charge “too” fat passengers for an extra seat. Other airlines followed, and now nearly all airlines have explicit anti-“too”-fat policies. These policies usually base off of whether one needs a seatbelt extender, has the ability to put down the armrest, or doesn’t unreasonably encroach on a seatmate’s real estate.
I flew a total of four separate SWA flights (one roundtrip connecting once on each leg). Here’s what I determined:
1. For the wide-of-upper-body (which the tall and fat usually are), go for an aisle or a window. ONLY go for the window if the window is placed where your shoulder would naturally fall (centered above the armrest). Otherwise the window seat could actually be less roomy than the middle or aisle seats.
2. For the wide-of-hips: Go for a window seat. That way your hips can push out under the armrest on the window-side without encroaching, and you can lean into the window a bit, which can pull your lower body a smidgeon away from the middle seat. Avoid the middle seat at all costs — if your hips squish under the armrests, better to have one seatmate who has to deal with it rather than two.
3. If you are traveling with wide-framed companion and the flight isn’t full, get a good boarding spot and find an empty row behind the wing (where most people won’t want to sit). Sit in the window and aisle seat. Chances are, most people will squeeze between two average- or petite-framed people rather than sit in your middle seat, and then Voila! you have the whole row to yourselves, and can fly much more comfortably.
4. Further, don’t be afraid. The SWA flight attendants I have known have all been remarkably friendly. I think they would try their absolute best to keep you on the flight and not enforce the SWA rules whenever possible.