Flying Plus-Size: Exit Row + Belt Extension = TROUBLE !

Most of us already know that when you are flying plus-size, you can ask for a belt extension in order to buckle up while flying.  But I found out at my own expense that belt extension + exit row seat = problems!  You won’t that information easily on the airlines’ websites (a notification or pop-up when you book an exit row seat, would it be too much?).

plus-size on a plane

You can’t always get what you want…

For my first SpiceJet flight between Mumbai and Dabolim-Goa (India), the plane was barely half full.  After kindly asking the flight attendant for a belt extension, two fellow passengers, my friend and I all noticed that the aircraft door was closed and that the exit row seats were all empty.  When I asked the flight attendant if I could switch place, she said no.  Then the two gentlemen asked after hearing me being denied.  The flight attendant said yes!

We all looked at each other with puzzled stares.  So I asked her why I couldn’t and they could; she said it’s because of the belt extension.  Fine by me.  But then the gentlemen asked her why they could but I couldn’t… and she said very loudly and numerous times “She can’t because she needs a belt extension!”.  And she probably would have kept on saying it until I told her “Enough! You don’t have to advertise it to everybody on the plane!”.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m generally comfortable with my body image.  Some even might say I “represent” too much.  But that day, I lost that positive stereotype I had of the discreet-understanding-polite-perfectly mannered flight attendant… I guess a passenger flying plus-size can inspire the worst from certain flight attendants…

plus-size on a plane

On our Delhi-London Heathrow flight, with British Airways, when I was assigned an exit row seat, I was spotted by the flight attendant who brought me an extension and I was forced not only to change seat but to remind that other flight attendant that she didn’t have to publicize my need for an extension!

But if you try sometimes, you might find… you get what you need!plus-size on a plane

At the boarding gate, in Heathrow, I went straight to the counter and told the lady what happened on my previous flight.  She was outraged by the way I was treated and allowed me to go on the plane and meet the in-flight service manager to avoid a new humiliation.  I was surrounded by a handful of competent, sympathetic and helpful staff when the manager asked me that one and only question: can you open the door in need of an emergency or do you have any restriction that could make it not possible to do so?  I answered that I could open it just fine.  Then he said he didn’t see why I couldn’t sit in an exit row and he greeted me on board.

I had a full half-hour to set up comfortably in an empty aircraft, in my exit row window seat, before the rest of the passengers boarded.  And none of the staff on board raised an eyebrow at me. For the whole flight.

What are you experience on flying plus-size?
Any weight/size airline policy you had to deal with that you never heard of before?
Have you ever dealt with similar situations? Feel free to comment on this topic!


  1. Some crew members are more understanding and sympathetic then others,I am a big guy and move well but at times there are a few of us that are not so mobile and that is the view of most non-plus people.

    I myself get the window seat so my shoulders don’t bother the other passenger,glad that my arm rest goes down,snugly but it goes down,I also went ahead and bought myself seat extensions for both types of US carriers,hope to use them once I decide to go overseas.

    Happy Travels

  2. I’ve just come across your site and I’m surprised I haven’t sooner. I just started my own plus size travel blog after doing some research on other PS blogs. I’ve been through your site and I love your content!

    The first time I flew alone, I was traveling from Newark to Tampa and had no idea that extensions were even a thing. I also managed to watch one of those reality TV shows about airlines and on the episode, a PS woman had to buy two seats because the plane wouldn’t accommodate her. I was terrified it was going to happen to me. Long story short, I ended up getting the extension, but not before embarrassing myself trying to heave and wiggle into the standard belt. Now I ask for one every time, but I’m still working on the “without shame” part.

    I’d love for you to check out my site! I go more in depth with this story (and losing my passport!) Also, I’d love any opportunity to write a guest post or maybe interview you via skype or email for my blog!

    Thanks so much for your content!


    • Hi Linsay… better late than never i guess? 🙂 Glad that you found the blog and hope it helps!
      You can contact me at edith(a) so we can discuss interview possibilities…
      Happy travels! 🙂

  3. I am a Union Rep for an airline and asked what the issue was with the extender and the Exit Row. While some assumptions might be made about ability to help in an emergency, it actually comes down to the extension, when unbuckled, could cause a tripping hazard in the row or aisle. As frustrating as that is to hear, I doubt I would remember to neatly pick up my belt in an emergency so I guess I can live with it. I 100% agree that a pop up when booking seats would be SO helpful!

    • That is an interesting information, Isabelle. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
      I brought up the mobility issue since I was asked once, plain and simple, if I could operate the emergency exit… Which lead me to believe mobility having something to do with the emergency row situation.
      From my experience though, it seems that the rule is “applied” unequally from one airline to another…! 😉

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