7 Experiences Fat Travelers had when Asking for a Seatbelt Extender

One of the most frequently asked questions we get in the @Fat Girls Traveling group is about seatbelt extenders when flying. It is one of the top fears people have when flying fat. That we won’t fit in the seat or the seatbelt won’t fit. ⁠

We want you to know it is totally acceptable to ask your flight attendant for a seatbelt extender. Seatbelts on planes are not standard sizing and there is no shame in it, especially when it means a more comfortable journey for you. ⁠

We asked our community on Instagram, “How do you ask for a seatbelt extender?”⁠ Keep reading to see their responses!

Note: A reminder that FAA rules prohibit a passenger from using their own personally seatbelt extender. You may only use one that is provided by the airline in which you are flying.

Flying While Fat

  1. I started asking for one as I board. Everyone was really discrete and it makes the flight much more comfortable. Some of those older 737s have tiny seatbelts!
  2. Sometimes I ask for it as I board and other times I ask the closest flight attendant to my seat. I prefer asking as I board because I have the Fa’s attention at that moment whereas other FA’s are usually already busy unless I’m one of the first to board. As a nervous flier, it allows me to get to my seat and focus on calming my nervous system vs worrying about getting the Fa’s attention and asking in front of others.
  3. I ask every time when boarding now. I may not need it but man it’s worth it for comfort if you do! You can ask discretely that way so you don’t get judging eyes. I love to use Southwest customer of size policy because you can buy 2 seats (1 gets refunded), pre-board, and ask for a seat belt extender when no one is around. You get situated with your extended and in your seats before the rest of the plane boards!
  4. I like to sit at the back of the plane and there’s always a flight attendant there and their supplies are close by so I usually ask when I get near my seat and before I sit down. I recently took international flights and was sitting closer to the middle. I asked as soon as I entered the plane. I never knew they existed until about two years ago and I’m really thankful for them. I really don’t care what others think about it and most people probably don’t even notice.
  5. I went to an island in the Azores and, because of COVID protocols, we had to deplane and reboard the same plane on each island stop along the way. It became a running joke with the FA manning the back door, she’d “save mine for me” each time we got on and off!
  6. I went on my first adult holiday earlier this month and dreaded asking for an extender but I asked when I got onto the plane, they just asked where I was sitting and said they’d bring me one. It felt so easy and I’m no longer worried about asking for one. I’ll continue to ask when I board just out of preference.
  7. As Nike says, “Just Do It”. NEVER EVER be embarrassed or ashamed at asking for an extender or anything else reasonable in life. I used to feel like “they’re staring at me because I’m fat” if I caught someone looking, but I’ve learned that humans stare. At everyone. All the time. We just do. So smile, shrug, be nice, be kind and most of all, be confident (or fake it till it becomes real). You can only control your own reactions, and if someone is a jerk, you just think to yourself “fuck ’em” and move on. End of rant

Have you asked for a seatbelt extender when flying? Share your experience below!

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Amanda Wilkinson

When Amanda is busy running While Fat she can be found running her own Digital Marketing Agency in Bristol, UK. Amanda can also be found reading books on her Bookstagram, drinking Aperol, and dreaming about her next trip.

3 thoughts on “7 Experiences Fat Travelers had when Asking for a Seatbelt Extender

  1. I never asked for one. I can barely close the seatbelt and lots of time have to push my belly up so it can sit under. Like do I leave it or bring it back to the attendant when I get off???? What if they say they don’t have one?? What if they make a scene about it? I’m usually very “Ill take up the space I need”, but on flights my brain just shuts down.

    1. That’s totally understandable. It can be difficult to advocate for yourself in such a public space. But your safety is more important. You can discreetly ask for an extender as you board the plan when the flight attendants are asking your seat number to direct you where to go. You got this!

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