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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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Can You Use A Seatbelt Extender On An Extra Legroom Seat? by Meg Kate

My size and weight have fluctuated throughout my entire adult life. Being plus size is something I’ve always been confident about and it’s never once stopped me from living my best life, especially when it comes to travel. In January of this year, my boyfriend and I flew out to Marrakech, a destination I’ve dreamed about for as long as I can remember, and had a week of walking, hiking and adventure sports with absolutely no hindrance from my size.

The trip was a dream, and then it was time to come home.

Somehow, in all my years of cheap European travel, I had never found myself on an EasyJet flight before. We hopped on the plane and found our extra legroom seats, the same seats we book on every flight because we’re both giant humans (6ft 2” and 6ft 6” for reference) and started to get settled. However, this is where we came across a problem: my seatbelt didn’t fit.

At the time I was wearing UK size 18 clothes and I had been much bigger and much smaller on other trips in the past, with no seatbelt issues. After I got over the initial embarrassment of realising I was too big for my seat (I realised I was no bigger, less confident or more unfit than I was 5 minutes ago, before I tried on the seatbelt) I grabbed hold of a cabin crew member and asked for a seatbelt extension. This is where problem number 2 came in, as I was told that my seat, in particular, did not permit the use of seatbelt extensions.

Wonderful, not only do I need an extension but I also have to move seats during take-off and landing in order to be given one. As a nervous flyer, being separated from my partner during (what I consider) the 2 worst parts of the flight was not ideal.

As I sat waiting to take off I found myself quite upset and angry: “They should warn you when booking that the extenders can’t be used with extra legroom seats”, “It’s fat-shaming” etc etc. But, as our delay dragged on, I realised that because I’d never needed an extension before, even if I’d been warned when booking I probably would have ignored it, and, it was most probably for safety reasons too.

Since then, I’ve done some investigating, and hopefully, a quick read through the below will help anyone trying to determine which seat is best for their next flight. Here’s what I’ve found:

What would have happened if my flight was full?

Luckily for me, I just moved into a spare seat for take-off and landing. If you are on a full flight, you will have to swap seats with another passenger of a smaller build, who is sat nearby. The cabin crew will arrange this for you.

Is it for safety reasons?

Technically, yes. The Civil Aviation Authority states “passengers who, because of their size, have difficulty in moving quickly” are unable to reside in emergency exit seats, which more commonly than not are the seats with the extra legroom. Unfortunately for us plus size gals, that means us!

If I need a seat belt extension on one flight, do I need it on all? 

No! Like I said, I’d miraculously never found myself on an EasyJet flight before, and after doing some research I’ve found that their Maximum Pitch Length for economy seats is 29”, which is an inch smaller than RyanAir (who we flew out with) whose economy seat MPL is 30”. Jet2, Virgin Atlantic and Delta Airlines all operate on an average 30-31” MPL too, just for reference, so be aware that EasyJet seats are particularly cosy!

Do airlines tell you about the restrictions when you try to book your seat? 

Yes, they do, and it’s something I will be well aware of in future but as I’ve said, I didn’t even think to check! Learn from my mistake, if you’re tall and plus size, you need to pick your seats very carefully!

Are there any extra legroom seats that are seatbelt extender friendly?

On most aircraft models, yes. The issue has nothing to do with legroom and everything to do with being in an exit row seat. If we take EasyJet as our example, 3 out of 4 of their aircraft models have 2 ‘standard bulkhead’ seats on board, and this seems common among most. Airbus and Boeing aircraft. These seats can be found at the front, seats 1E and 1F. They have extra legroom and are not classed as emergency exit seats. That’s 2 seats available for tall, plus sized people on a 186 seat aircraft. Their Airbus A321 model has 235 seats on board, 0 of which are suitable and so I guess you’d just have to be squashed for your whole journey?

My final thoughts on the matter are these: It’s quite disappointing to me that there are such limited seat options when it comes to being both tall and plus size, it feels a lot like the clothing industry in that they expect you to be one or the other. The only way I can think to help is just by making people aware of this regulation, as if you’re like me when you read that “less able bodies are not permitted in emergency exit seats”, it may not even cross your mind that it might mean you. I would make sure you are aware of the average seat pitch for your airline or use websites such as SeatGuru to get as much information on your particular seat as possible, and if you can, book those bulkhead seats before someone beats you to it, but that’s about as much advice as I can give you for now. Either way, no matter which seat you end up in, needing a seatbelt extender is nothing to be ashamed of, whether you’re short, tall or somewhere in between, you look no less fabulous than you did before you tried the seatbelt on for size.

Author Bio

I'm Meg, I'm a 24-year-old travel blogger from Manchester who specialises is budget travel adventures while holding down a full-time job.


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