Tag Archives: comfortable airline travel

Airline Interior

How to Find the Best Airline Seats for Overweight Passengers

Airplane travel in your future? For the most comfortable flight, do your research now and follow these five tips on how to find the best airline seats for overweight passengers.

  1. Fly to popular, bigger airports. Bigger airports tend to have larger planes (and more of them going to your destination) which will usually result in more comfortable seats to choose.
  2. Fly during less popular hours. The plane is less likely to be crowded at midnight than it would be a 2 P.M. And, “off hour flight times” usually are not so tightly booked. So, you have more seat selection and a greater chance to have an empty seat next to you. These will make your flight more comfortable.
  3. Check out the size of the seats and leg room (seat pitch) on the airplane you are considering. Before you book your seat, check out the seat’s width and seat pitch (the space between rows) on Seat Guru. Tip: Some airlines have special areas in coach with more seat pitch. You may pay a little more for your seat; but, you will be a lot more comfortable than being crammed in a low pitch seat zone.
  4. Select your seat when you book your flight. If your booking agent can’t give you a seat selection, call the airline immediately after making your reservation and reserve your specific seat.
  5. Sit on the aisle. The seat is not any wider than a window seat but you will have more shoulder room.

One more thought: Be sure to check back the day before departure to make sure that the airline has not changed the type of airplane to be used or switched your seat selection.

Looking for more tips on finding the best airline seats for overweight passengers? Check out 13 Tips for a Comfortable Plus Size Airline Flight.

Enjoy your flight!


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.

airline seat pitch

Which Airlines Have the Most Airplane Legroom?

To have a comfortable airline experience you need a comfortable, wide seat and enough airplane legroom to avoid touching the seat in front of you.

Some airlines are size-friendly with wide seats and ample legroom. Other airlines are increasing the number of seats on an airplane to increase profits, making seating more cramped with narrow seats and very limited space between the rows. Some airlines, such as Delta, American and United, have created “super economy” fares which limit seat width, legroom and limit carry on baggage.

Airplane Legroom Winners and Losers

Budgettravel.com reports the North American airlines that provide the most and least pitch:

Airlines with Most Legroom

  • Air Canada – Pitch of 32 to 34 inches. Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline, also has low prices and wide seats.
  • Interjet – Pitch of 34 inches. This Mexican, low-cost, airline flies from U.S. cities to Mexico, Central America and South America.
  • JetBlue – Pitch of 32-34 inches.
  • Southwest – Pitch of 32-33 inches. Southwest is often the lowest cost carrier in a route; but, the seat widths are very narrow, making the seat uncomfortable for many plus size and big and tall passengers.
  • Virgin America – Pitch of 32 inches.

Airlines with Less Legroom

  • Alaska Airlines – Pitch of 31-32 inches. Want more room? Then look for “Preferred Plus Seats” with 4 inches of extra legroom starting at an extra $15.
  • American Airlines – Pitch of 30-32 inches.
  • Delta – Pitch of 31 inches.
  • Hawaiian Airlines – Pitch of 31 inches; but, the seats tend to be wider than many airlines flying to and from Hawaii and Figi.
  • United – Pitch of 31-32 inches.
  • Allegiant – Pitch of 30 inches.
  • Spirit – Pitch of 28 inches.
  • Frontier – Pitch of 28 inches.

Research for Legroom

The key to a comfortable airline seat is research. You can check out the seating details (seating widths and pitch) of an airliner on Seat Guru. Just enter the airline and flight number and the seat details and seat layout of that flight are presented graphically on Seat Guru along with the class of service of each seat (for example, first class, main cabin extra and main cabin).

How to Upgrade for More Legroom

Seat pitch tends to increase as the seat cost increases. For example, first class has more pitch than coach. Within coach there may be several subclasses of coach, each with slightly more pitch. For example United offers more legroom in “Economy Plus” and Allegiant offered up to four extra inches of legroom in their “Legroom+ Seats.”

To get more legroom you can upgrade your ticket, paying for the additional comfort. Or, you may be able to get a free upgrade. Loyalty programs (frequent flyer programs) often offer free seat upgrades in exchange for a number of miles already flown on their airline. The check-in agent may be willing to give you an upgrade if you are a member of their loyalty program and if the flight is not full. Tip: Keep checking the airline’s app to see which seats are open as you get closer to departure time.

In summary: To get a comfortable seat you need to: Do your research. Know where you do (and don’t!) want to sit on a specific airplane. Pay or ask for an upgrade. Need more travel info? Check out GrandStyle’s recent plus size travel posts.