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 for your comfort and safety. 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 if you are looking for a comfortable ride.

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 seat belt 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 and then adjust the seat belt to a comfortable length. A flight attendant uses a seat belt extender to show passengers how to buckle your seat belt and then provides the extender to passengers who need one for a more comfortable ride. Or, you can purchase your own seat belt extender and be ready for your next flight.

Airplane Seat Belt Extender Styles

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 to increase your seating comfort.

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 legroom 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

Need more travel info? Check out GrandStyle’s recent plus size travel posts.

Airline Interior

13 Tips for a Comfortable Plus Size Airline Flight

Trying to get a comfortable plus size airline flight can be a nightmare for the larger person. Small seats with limited legroom, narrow aisles, the long walk from the check-in area to the gate, holiday crowds, and the frequent insensitivity of passengers and crew can all contribute to an unpleasant flying experience.

But, with careful planning, your flight can be safe and enjoyable. Follow the guidelines listed below in order to maximize your comfort while flying.

Tips to Getting a Comfortable Plus Size Airline Flight

1. Book Carefully

Book your flight carefully, avoiding “rush-hour” air time. Take advantage of “red-eye special” deals, where the plane is less likely to be full. The chance of the seat next to yours remaining empty is 0% if you are flying out of LAX at 0600 on a Monday morning.

2. Sit by an Empty Seat

Tell the airline that you are large and ask that the seat next to yours remain empty if at all possible. The worst the airline can do is say “No;” but, most airlines will at least attempt to accommodate. Editor’s Note: Many of the major airline carriers require passengers to purchase a second seat if they are unable to sit in the seat with the armrests down. Check with the airline when booking your flight. The second seat may be refundable.

3. Get a Seat Belt Extender

Request a seat belt extender when you book your flight, and/or ask for one when you board the plane. Do not wait for the flight attendant’s animated safety speech to discuss your need. Editor’s Note: Many airlines are now requiring customers to only use the seat belt provided by the airline. If you are a frequent airline traveler on an airline that allows you to bring your own seat belt, you can select and purchase your own seat belt extender from Amazon or DestinationXLDestination XL.

4. Shop for Wider Seat Sizes

When you book your flight ask specifically for the seat measurements of the plane you will be on. Explain your need and ask for the largest seat in your section of the plane. Even one inch can make a big difference. Editor’s Note: Check out SeatGuru for seat measurements on airline body types of all major airlines.

5. Request an Aisle or Window Seat

Request a seat assignment for the aisle or window, where you will have a little more room, and make sure that you don’t have a bulkhead seat. While you have more leg-room in bulkhead, the armrests in the bulkhead do not raise, and the tray tables come out of the armrest across your lap. Large size flyers might wish to request an aisle seat in a row where the outside armrests are movable, making it easier to slide into the row.

6. Pre-Board

Even mid-size people have trouble squeezing down the micro-sized center aisle of most planes, and this task is even more difficult the plane is already plump with passengers. For this reason, you should pre-board the plane with the rest of the passengers who need extra time in boarding. The gate agent probably won’t hassle you, but if he/she asks, just say that you’re a large person and need a little extra time.

7. Get the Armrest Up Early

When you get to your seat during pre-boarding, raise the armrest between seats. This may give you the inch or two of extra space you need during flight. The chances are that the passenger who will be seated next to you won’t say anything; if they do, smile pleasantly and say that you’ll both be more comfortable if the armrest is up. Editor’s Note: Many of the major airline carriers require passengers to purchase a second seat if they are unable to sit in the seat with the armrests down. So be prepared to lower the armrest to show how you fit in the seat if requested by the flight crew.

8. Avoid the Restrooms

Use the airport restroom before boarding your plane. Ask when booking your trip if handicapped facilities are available on your particular flight. If not, you may want to change your plans and fly on a plane equipped with an accessible restroom.

9. Get Comfortable with the Tray Table

If you cannot bring down the tray table, have the flight attendant ask the passenger in front of you to put their seat to the full upright position for mealtime. If this doesn’t help, set a pillow on your lap, and your meal tray on the pillow.

10. Agree to Be Bumped

Consider being bumped voluntarily. Not only can this be extremely profitable for frequent flyers, but your chances of being re-assigned to a partially full plane are greatly enhanced. You won’t mind the inconvenience of an odd departure/arrival time if your next trip by air is at a greatly reduced price.

11. Manage Your Second Seat

If you have purchased a second seat for comfort, be sure to let the flight attendant know as you board the plane. This will avoid embarrassment, as an unknowing flight attendant may try to fill your second seat. Editor’s Note: Some major airline carriers require passengers to purchase a second seat if they are unable to sit in the seat with the armrests down. The cost of this seat may be refundable. Be sure to obtain the necessary documents to request your refund.

12. Look for an Exit Row Seat

The exit row seats over the wings of most planes have considerably more leg room than the rest of the seats in economy class. While Federal regulations state that exit row seating may be denied to larger passengers, requesting an exit row seat may be a viable option for larger people who are tall and those with reasonably good health and mobility.

13. Use Gate Transportation

It’s usually a long walk between curbside check-in and the gate, or between gates when you have connecting flights. When making your reservations, make sure to tell the agent if you will need special services, such as the airport tram or an armless wheelchair and attendant.

The most important thing to remember is that you have the right to fly anywhere you want to go. Your needs deserve to be met, but it may be up to you to remind them of this simple fact. If you experience problems despite your precautions, write a letter of complaint to the airline. Remember, you have a right to accessible transportation.

Contributors: Jean Soncrant and Lynn McAffee.
©NAAFA Re-published with permission from NAAFA, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. Reformatted for readability and then updated by GrandStyle to reflect current airline procedures.

Be sure to check out the other GrandStyle travel articles for more tips on achieving a comfortable plus size airline flight.