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We know that travel is not one size fits all so to help, we have created the Plus Size Travel Too website as a hub of plus size experts, all looking to share their knowledge with fellow-travellers. If you're seeking adventure and don't know where to begin then don't worry, you're definitely in the right place.

From finding plus size friendly destinations and size-inclusive excursions to preparing for a comfortable flight and knowing exactly what to pack, we have absolutely everything you could need right here.
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20 Fearless Plus Size Flying Tips by Jess Riley

I love travelling. There’s something magical about visiting places you’ve dreamed of seeing and experiencing cultures from around the world.

However, if there’s one thing I’m not so keen on, it’s flying. Or more specifically, flying as a plus-size person. 

Whether it’s a cramped seat or less than sympathetic cabin crew, flying as a larger person is enough to put you off travelling altogether. 

But, what if I said that there was another way?

If the thought of squeezing past your fellow passengers is enough to fill you with fear, you’re in the right place.
I am a true believer that travel is for everyone, regardless of shape or size.

To help you have the best experience possible, I’m sharing my top plus size flying tips that will help you fearlessly fly around the world. 

Ready for take-off?

Before you book

Planning a trip? Start your travels the right way by keeping these tips in mind:

1 - Different airlines have different policies

Not all airlines are ‘fat friendly’ and some have special policies for passengers of size. Make sure you understand how an airline treats larger passengers before you book your flight. 

2 - Know your aircraft

Most passengers don’t know the difference between aircraft, however, doing some quick research can help you select the most comfortable flight. Generally, the newer planes are more spacious, but this depends on the airline. 

3 - Size matters

Think seat sizes are standard? You’re wrong! There can be a huge difference between seat sizes in the same class on different airlines. The seatbelt length also varies so make sure you compare these measurements before you book. 

4 - Timing is key

Increase the chance of getting a row to yourself by considering the date and time you fly. Flights in the middle of the week or in the evening tend to be less crowded. You might even get a free upgrade! 

5 - Ask questions

Do you have a question that you can’t find an answer to? Want more information on the aircraft? Don’t be scared to contact the airline directly before you book to talk about your trip. 

6 - Buy extra room

If you want to ensure you have more space on the flight, you might find buying an add-on helpful. This might be upgrading the class of your ticket, booking extra legroom, or even the ability to choose where you sit on the plane. 

These upgrades often come with additional perks such as priority boarding, allowing you to get to your seat without having to squeeze past other passengers. 

Buying upgrades is often cheapest at the time of the booking, but you can sometimes get special offers (or even free!) on the day of the flight. 

7 - Read the reviews

Things might sound great on an airline’s website, but, of course, it’s going to sound good, they’re trying to sell seats! Make sure you read real passenger reviews before you book your flight. I like to watch YouTube videos of the cabins and seat class to see what I actually get for my money. 

At Home

You’ve booked your trip but there are still things you can do to improve your in-flight experience!

8 - Emergency outfits

If you are checking in a bag, I recommend that you consider packing a small ‘emergency’ outfit into your hand luggage. Why? Some airlines give you compensation to buy replacement items if your luggage is lost or delayed. However, if you’re unable to find plus-size clothes in your destination, you’re stuck. 

By having another ‘emergency outfit’, you’re buying yourself time to look for appropriate replacements. I like to pack lightweight items that won’t crease such as a jersey maxi dress. 

9 - Dress for comfort

I admire people who look stylish at the airport, but, from a practical perspective, make sure your travel outfit is comfortable. There’s nothing worse than wearing clothes that dig in on a long flight because you wanted to look fashionable. Instead, choose loose clothing, and preferably layers that are easy to remove. I also like to wear something that won’t show any sweat patches if I suddenly become hot and flustered.

10 - Create a grab bag

This is one of my top flying tips for anyone, regardless of size!

 Like most people, I usually take hand luggage on a flight and stow it in the overhead compartments during takeoff. However, unless you’re in an aisle seat, it can be a pain to try and access it during a flight. To combat this, I create a grab bag full of my in-flight essentials. 

Like a large, zip-up clutch bag or pouch, I put everything I think I will need during my flight in this, and remove it from my hand luggage at the gate. Once in my seat, I’ll stow my hand luggage away, keeping my grab bag on me. You could even place it in the magazine compartment in front of you whilst you take off. 

The contents of my grab bag vary depending on the length of my trip, but it usually contains:
  • Some money for any in-flight purchases.
  • My kindle, reading material or any in-flight entertainment.
  • My passport & boarding pass.
  • Lip balm, hand cream and face wipes. 
  • Any medication, if it’s a long-haul flight.
  • A seat belt extender, if necessary.

At the airport

The airport can be a stressful place, but there are things you can do to make your life easier. 

11 - Be the early bird

There’s nothing worse than having to rush through the terminal and arrive at your gate sweaty and stressed. Give yourself some extra time so you can relax and feel calm before your flight. 

12 - Think about food

Save money on expensive inflight snacks by buying your food and drink before your board. Alternatively, if it’s a short flight, you might want to eat beforehand so you don’t have to worry about using a lap tray or having enough space.

13 - Go to the bathroom 

I might sound like your mum, but it’s always a good idea to go to the bathroom before your flight. Aeroplane bathrooms are notoriously cramped and there is nothing worse having to squeeze past your neighbour or down the narrow aisle. 

14 - Make friends with the Gate Agent

Arriving at your gate early gives you a chance to talk to the gate agent. They will know how full the flight is and if there are any empty rows. Some people have even been able to ensure empty seats next to them have remained free by just being nice.

15 - Battling boarding

If you have priority boarding, make the most of it. Boarding the plane first means you won’t have to squeeze past other passengers on the way to your seat. This is also a great opportunity to discreetly ask for an extension belt. 

Alternatively, you might prefer to be one of the last to board. This is a good option for those with an aisle seat as it means you don’t have to move to let others get to their seats.

On the plane

You’re almost at your destination. Time to sit back and relax with these top plus size flying tips:

16 - Ask for a seatbelt extension 

If you haven’t brought your own seat belt extender, don’t feel too ashamed to ask for one on board. This is more common than you think, and your comfort and safety are important. I find the best time to ask is as soon as you board as you can mention it to the crew as you pass them.  

17 - You can leave your shoes on

I know so many people like to put soft, fluffy socks on to get comfy on flights. However, your feet could swell during the flight and you might be unable to put your shoes back on. It’s a much better option to wear comfy shoes that you’re happy to leave on until you arrive at your destination. 

18 - Kindness is free

You might be stressed and agitated about your flight but it costs you absolutely nothing to be polite. After all, it’s much harder to be mean to someone who is going out of their way to be kind, than someone grumpy and demanding. Cabin crew are more likely to help you if you are grateful for their assistance. 

Whether you like it or not, your neighbours are probably going to have less room than other passengers on your flight. Create a nice atmosphere for you and your neighbours by introducing yourself. Ask if they mind you raising your armrest or even joke about the situation to take the edge off. 

19 - Put your armrest up

Most airlines require you to have the armrest down for take-off and landing. However, as soon as you’re in the air, you’re able to raise them.

If you have a neighbour, ask if they would mind you raising it for the entire flight. Unfortunately, if you’re in the bulkhead area, you might have fixed armrests. If this is a problem, ask a flight attendant if there are any empty seats with manoeuvrable armrests you could move to. 

20 - You like to move it, move it

Plus-size people are much more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT) whilst flying. However, you can reduce this risk by getting up every 2-3 hours to stretch plus doing various other in-seat movements such as flexing your feet and rotating your ankles. 

If you’re worried about developing DVT, talk to your doctor about prevention before you fly. 

Bonus Plus Size Flying Tip

My final tip for fearless flying is all about mindset. 

Put simply, you are allowed to take up space. Do not feel ashamed or guilty for wanting to fly. You are a customer and deserve to be on that flight as much as your neighbour or fellow passengers. 

Yes, flying as a plus-size person can have negative drawbacks, but don’t let that stop you from seeing the world. You only have one life, so don’t waste it because you’re worried about what people who don’t matter think.

I hope you’ve found these plus size flying tips helpful. Relax, and enjoy your trip. 

How do you make the flying more comfortable? Let me know in the comments below! 
Author Bio

Jess is a Culture & Travel Blogger at The Crown Wings. Based in Manchester, her mission is to share her a passion for sightseeing, theatre, books and history in a more inclusive and interesting way.