popular type of seat belt extender

Types of Seat Belt Extenders

There are several types of seat belt extenders, both for vehicles and airplanes. Do you know if you need one? And, if so, what type or size you need?

Depending on your body shape, you may need a seat belt extender for vehicle or airline travel. Standard length seat belts are designed for the traveler who weighs up to about 215 pounds. If you weigh more than 215 pounds or if you carry your weight around your hips and stomach, you are probably a good candidate for a seat belt extender.

Types of Seat Belt Extenders

Choose your seat belt extender based on the type of transportation that you plan to use most often – vehicles vs. airplanes.

Vehicle Seat Belt Extenders

There are two types of extenders designed for vehicles:

  • Extended length of webbing straps – Straps of seat belt webbing with a clasp on each end that you attach to the existing seat belt.
  • Stick-like – An 8-10″ stick-like device that you click into the stationary end of your car’s seat belt bracket.

Your car or truck dealer is an excellent source for vehicle seat belt extenders. They can make sure that the extender you select is designed to fit in your particular car. Some dealers will provide an extender for the driver at no cost. Check with your dealer for the cost and availability of an extender for your car.

Car part dealers and online retailers such as Amazon also offer car seat belt extenders.

Airplane Seat Belt Extenders

Seat belt extenders for airplanes are a length of seat belt webbing with a clasp on each end. You attach the seat belt extender to one side of the existing seat belt. A flight attendant uses a seat belt extender to show passengers how to buckle your seat belt and then provides the extender to passengers.

There are three basic styles of airplane seat belt extenders:

  • Style A – This style has a square metal tongue and fits most of the jets flying domestically and internationally as well as many of the smaller jets and prop planes. This style is used on American, United, US Air, TWA, Northwest, Delta, Continental, Jet Blue, Alaska, British Airways and Air Canada. Consider this style if you want to purchase only one style of extender for your airline travel.
  • Style B – This style also has a square metal tongue but it is uniquely designed to fit most of the smaller and prop planes.
  • Southwest, Qantas and Lufthansa Airlines – These airlines have a unique style of seat belt clasp. Style A or B extenders will not work with the seat belts on the planes of these three airlines. You will need to request a seat belt extender from the flight attendant.

An airline seat belt extender is typically 24-25″ in length. You can adjust the extender to lengthen a few inches or up to the full length of the extender.

There are many online sources for seat belt extenders including Amazon. When selecting your retailer, make sure that the seat belt meets or exceeds federal standards and, in the case of airplane extenders, that they are FAA approved.

aisle inside airplane

5 Steps to Getting a Comfortable Airline Seat

Small seats, limited leg room and planes packed to capacity all can keep you from getting a comfortable airline seat, particularly if you are a plus size passenger.

Planning Leads to a Comfortable Airline Seat

Traveling on an airplane does not have to be uncomfortable. With a little planning, you can meet the challenges of airline travel by following a few time-tested tips:

  1. Select a size-friendly airline – Some airlines are more sensitive to the plus size traveler. Others are just plain rude. GrandStyle has a helpful recap of which airlines treat big people well.
  2. Schedule flights during non-busy times – Weekday evening and overnight flights usually have fewer passengers than an early morning or late afternoon flight. Less passengers increases your chance of having an empty seat next to you — which will certainly give you a more comfortable flight.
  3. Research size-friendly seat accommodations before booking the flight – Each style of airplane has a different seat layout — seat 10B could be an aisle seat on some airlines and a middle seat on other airlines. The airline can tell you the type of aircraft used on a specific flight and you can research the airplane’s layout on the airline’s website or on a seat research site such as SeatGuru or check out the legroom info provided by CheapFlights.com. Knowing the plane’s layout will help you to arrange for a comfortable seat.
  4. Eat and use the restroom before boarding – Eating, drinking and using the restroom during a flight can be an uncomfortable situation for a plus size body. The tray table may not lay down completely flat, making it difficult to use with food and drinks. Airplane restrooms are very small and may be too small for some passengers to use.
  5. Board early – Take advantage of the opportunity for early boarding. Having a little extra time can come in handy getting down the jet way, settling into your seat or getting your seat belt extender ready-to-use.

For More Help and Ideas on Plus Size Airline Travel

finding airline comfort for a big passenger

3 Ways to Increase Airline Comfort for a Big Passenger

The three main things that most affect airline comfort for a big passenger are seatbelt extenders, seat space and restroom facilities.

How to Get More Airline Comfort for a Big Passenger

Seatbelt Extenders

If the seatbelt on an airplane doesn’t fit you, you need to use a seatbelt extender. All airplanes carry them — flight attendants use them to demonstrate how to fasten your seatbelt. Airlines win points from their passengers for being discreet and polite with seatbelt extenders. If you get a pre-assigned seat, you may be able to ask the airline or your travel agent to put an extender on the belt for that seat in advance. Otherwise, you can ask the flight attendant for one.

Some airlines require customers to use the seatbelt extenders provided by the individual airline. You may not be able to use your own seatbelt extender. However, if you want to purchase your own extender, Amazon sells various styles of seatbelt extenders that work with the various styles of airplane seatbelts.

Seat Space

Seat size varies from plane to plane (even within the same airline and model). New planes are likely to have similar-sized seats. But if an airline uses older planes or a variety of models, there’s no predicting what size the seats will be. The airline service reps can tell you the type of plane that you will be flying on. Propeller and turbo-prop planes tend to have narrower seats than jets. Editor’s Note: Check out SeatGuru for seat measurements on airline body types of all major airlines.

  • Bulkhead or door seats do not have a row of seats in front of them, so you get more leg room, and no one will lower their chair into your face. However, the tray tables fold out of the arm rests and you can’t raise the arm rests.
  • On a small plane with no physical divider between first class and coach, the seats directly behind the first class seats tend to have the same pluses and minuses as bulkhead seats.
  • On a larger plane, such as a 767 or 777, the seats tend to be about an inch wider and there may have as much as two extra inches of legroom.
  • On all sizes of planes, exit row seats sometimes have more leg room. First class or business class seats tend to be wider with more leg room, but the arm rests usually can’t be raised.

Tips to Get a Wider Seating Area

The size of the seat and the legroom make a big difference in the airline comfort for a big passenger. To get a few extra inches of space, board as soon as possible, and when you sit down, immediately lift the arm rest. If someone sits next to you, they generally won’t bother to put the arm rest back down, and you’ll both have more room.

To increase your chance of having an empty seat next to you, try the following:

  • Travel on middle of the week flights and red-eye (late night) flights, which are rarely full.
  • Ask to be seated in an aisle or window seat toward the back of the plane (they fill the plane from front to back). However, note that the seats in the last row usually don’t recline.
  • If you are traveling with someone, ask for a window and an aisle in the same row. If someone ends up in the middle, they will probably be happy to switch with one of you.
  • Tell the airline when you make your reservation that you’re a large person and ask to be seated next to an empty seat.
  • Check in early (usually the gate check-in opens an hour before the flight) and ask to be seated next to an empty seat. You don’t need to explain why you want one because people of all sizes want to move their seats…and asking to be seated next to an empty seat is a common request.

If you are very large, some airlines require you to buy two seats which may, or may not, be refundable. Call ahead so they don’t surprise you at the gate. Some airlines will sell you the second seat for half price. Others will only make you buy the second seat if the flight is full. It might be cheaper to ask for an upgrade into a section of the plane where there is greater distance between the seats and rows.

Getting Comfortable on the Airplane

Airplane tray tables restrict airline comfort for a big passenger. They get in the way of the stomachs of some people. Try these solutions:

  • If you’re seated next to an empty seat, use that seat’s table.
  • Tilt your seat all the way back.
  • Balance the tray on a pillow on your lap.
  • Bring your own food and avoid using the tray table.
  • Ask the person seated beside you if you can put your drink on their table.

Restroom Facilities

Airplane restrooms are very small and often uncomfortable for some larger bodies. Depending on where you carry your weight, some restrooms may be impossible for you to use. Consider these two tips:

  • When reserving your seats, request a seat near the disabled-access restroom. These restrooms tend to be a little larger and provide a little more entry and exit room for larger bodies.
  • Try to avoid having to use the restroom altogether, using the airport restroom immediately before and after your flight.

Original copyright held by Stef Jones ([email protected]). Article content updated by GrandStyle.

GrandStyle also has great tips on selecting a size-friendly airline.