When you’re flying, we all know that it’s incredibly important to be safe and secure. That’s why you buckle your seat belt when you take off and land, after all.

But what happens if you need a little more room to fasten your belt? What if you can’t get it done up at all? Do you have to ask a flight attendant for a seat belt extender? Or can you take your own?

The answer, unfortunately, isn’t that simple.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about airplane seatbelt extenders- from whether or not you can bring your own on board, to what kind of safety concerns come with them. Buckle up and let’s get started!

Our Stance On Seatbelt Extenders (A Message From PSTT Founder, Kirsty Leanne)

Airline seatbelt extenders are an incredibly sensitive topic and I completely understand the different perspectives that surround them. I (Kirsty Leanne) personally used to hide my seatbelt when flight attendants were doing their checks because I was so embarrassed when it wouldn’t buckle up properly.

Society has led us to believe that needing an extender is something to be ashamed and as a result, people are putting themselves at risk every single day.

I know that there is not an easy solution to this and that I don’t know the answer as I understand seatbelts are the length that they are so they’re not a tripping hazard. I also recognise that this is just another way to make plus size people feel like a burden on society and I hate that we’re made to feel this way when asking for accommodations.

I wholeheartedly understand if the shame of asking for a seatbelt extender is something you’re never able to get over but I want everyone reading this to know that I believe in you. Advocating for yourself as a plus size traveller is incredibly important and the more you do it, I promise the easier it will get.

You deserve to be comfortable and safe when you travel and if you need a seatbelt extender to do that, that’s okay!

For a guide to asking for a seatbelt extender, you can visit our post on when to ask here, as well as our top three tips here.

What Is A Seatbelt Extender?

A seatbelt extender, also known as a “seat belt extension,” is an attachment that helps you fasten your seat belt when it doesn’t quite fit around your waist. They’re often used by plus size passengers or those who are pregnant.

If you need a seat belt extender, all you need to do is ask a flight attendant for one. Airline companies provide them for free so if you’re struggling for space, it won’t come at an extra cost to you.

Cabin Crew are trained to give an extender to you discreetly, however, we know this isn’t always the case.

What If The Aircraft Runs Out Of Airline Seatbelt Extenders?

There’s no need to worry if an airline runs out of seat belt extenders. Airplanes are equipped with a number of them and, in the rare event that there aren’t enough, the flight attendants will call through to the airport to have more delivered to them.

Are All Seat Belts On Planes The Same?

No, not all seat belts on planes are the same. Depending on the type of plane you’re on, the seatbelt length will vary. We’ve created some useful guides here showing the seatbelt length for major airlines in both North America and Europe.

Please note: seatbelt length may differ as (as much as we don’t agree with this policy) they are often trimmed if they’re broken or frayed. This means you may fit a belt in one seat but then not in another.

Can I Take My Own Seat Belt Extender On A Flight?

This one is a little trickier but to put it simply, no you cannot. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) advises flight attendants not to allow passengers to bring their own seat belt extenders onto a flight. This is because they can not ensure passenger-own extenders comply with the strict safety guidelines they have in place and therefore if something were to happen, they would be liable. (It always comes down to money, unfortunately)

FAA Guidelines, last updated in 2012, state that “seat belt extenders are considered part of the aircraft seat and must be provided by the airline.”

Federal Aviation Administration

Are Seat Belt Extenders Safe When You Buy Them Yourself?

No, unfortunately, the seat belt extenders you can purchase online are not considered safe by FAA guidelines. Although it may state that it is FAA compliant, it’s impossible for an airline to check each and every passenger’s personal seatbelt in order to ensure this, therefore as a general rule, none are allowed on board.

If a seatbelt you have bought online states is has FAA documentation with it, this is likely fake because it cannot be bought and is only provided directly to airlines.

The guidelines state ”While these extenders may have a label that indicates they are FAA-approved and conform to TSO-C22g, they are not inspected and maintained under each airline’s FAA-accepted CAMP and should not be used”.

Federal Aviation Administration

You can read more directly from the FAA here.

Will Taking My Own Airline Seatbelt Extender On A Flight Affect My Travel Insurance?

Unfortunately, yes, using your own airline seatbelt extender could have an effect on your travel insurance.

When a passenger uses their own seat belt extender instead of one provided by the airline, then their travel, life, accidental death and dismemberment, long-term disability, supplemental health coverage and life insurance MAY be void in case of an incident where the passenger was injured or killed since the extender was not FAA approved, inspected, tested and certified by the airline.

Furthermore, the FAA advised that any passengers injured by a seat belt extender brought from home may be legally and/or financially responsible for the injuries or deaths of any nearby passengers.

Will My Seatbelt Extender Be Taken Away From Me?

If a flight attendant feels like it’s not safe for you to use it, they may ask you to hand it over to them. There are a lot of cases where flight attendants either don’t notice or choose not to say anything, which is why you may hear mixed messaging surrounding whether or not it’s okay to take your own onboard.

So if you’re worried about needing an airline seatbelt extender and feel tempted to take your own we obviously can’t tell you what to do, but we wanted to ensure you had all of the information needed to make an informed decision.

We wish there was a much easier way to overcome this situation, especially for those that feel incredibly anxious when it comes to asking for an airline seatbelt extender. We want you to know that your safety and comfort are nothing to be ashamed of and if you need an extender on a flight, it doesn’t make you any less worthy of travel and adventure. We promise! To catch up on the rest of our Flying While Fat series, click this link here.


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  1. I stumbled across your site from a recent news article. I’m not plus size but I am cabin crew and was interested in what info might be on here for larger travellers.
    I have to assure you all though- giving out seatbelt extensions are a normal occurrence each flight for us. I give out about 6 each flight for both babies and larger customers. I always tell people who are desperately trying to squeeze into a fixed belt- why make yourself uncomfortable? The idea of a seatbelt is to be able to wear it comfortably ALL flight not just during takeoff and landing so don’t use only the fixed one if it’s super tight and you have to rip it off as soon as the seatbelt sign comes off. If you don’t want to use the word extender- ask for an ‘extra belt’ the crew will know exactly what you want.
    The best time to ask for an extension is not when boarding, because unless the crew have some there with them they are likely to forget- but actually when near your seat or when walking through the middle of the cabin to your seat. (There will be crew stationed throughout the aircraft) and the belts on most carriers are kept in a central location usually mid cabin on a wide body (plane with two aisles and seats in the middle) and at front and back on a single aisle aircraft.
    Definitely check out the online seat selectors to see the best seat option and double check with staff at check in and at the gate- don’t just rely on what you booked. your specific seat booking isn’t always confirmed and passengers are often shuffled around to accomodate specific situations. And for meal services (it’s common on my flights to have at least two passengers each flight that can’t use the tray table during the meal service) if your meal dosent come with a large tray ask the crew if they have any spare large trays in the galley we often have larger trays that we load the meals in the cart on and they are perfect for resting in front of you to put your food on. Also, some onboard toilets are smaller than others. Don’t assume they are all the same size. If it has a wheelchair accessible sticker on it, it’s larger but if in doubt ask the crew!