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Helpful Tips For Flying While Fat

The friendly skies can be quite intimidating when you’re flying while fat. Will I be able to fit in the seat comfortably with the armrests down? Can I handle the embarrassment of asking for a seatbelt extender if I need one? What should I do if people give me a dirty look? These are all entirely legitimate concerns that we’ll navigate through while we talk about flying while overweight.

image text - helpful tips flying while fat

Flying While Overweight

Let’s start by addressing the reality of flying while overweight (or fat). Then share tips for planning ahead, and how to reduce your travel anxiety on the big day.

Between TSA and delayed flights, traveling is stressful enough. Here’s to less turbulence ahead when flying while fat!

What It’s Like To Fly While Fat:

Even if you do everything I’ll mention below, the reality is that you can’t control the occasional stares and snotty comments people might make. All you can do is try to control how you react. Easier said than done, I know!

As with all topics covered on the Plus Mommy Podcast, I think it’s helpful to know you’re not alone in these experiences. Here’s a video that shares many flying while fat stories.

Plan Ahead For Your Flight:

Before you even pack your bags, if you plan ahead for traveling as a larger person it can help you have a smoother experience.

When booking your flight, research your options. If you’re concerned that you might not fit in the seat contact your airline of choice and see what options you have. Whenever possible, consider Southwest Airlines, as they have an outstanding Customer Of Size Policy that we’ll cover below.

The Facebook group, Flying While Fat, is a wonderful resource where people ask questions, and others chime in with their experiences and tips. This Facebook group is a great space to open up about your concerns and hopefully get some helpful responses.

Southwest Customer Of Size Policy:

With Southwest, if you’re unable to put the armrest down, you can use their Customer Of Size Policy. This means you purchase your own seat and then you can get a free middle seat. Yes, you read that correctly, a free middle seat!

Pictures of seating on a southwest flight for a woman flying while overweight

You can either purchase an additional seat in advance, and then get a refund after your flight, or request an additional seat when you arrive at check-in the day of your trip. While I share my experience using this policy within the podcast episode below, please review their policy and contact Southwest Airlines with any questions you may have.

Before we move on, I think it’s important to share that the Southwest Customer Of Size Policy, while wonderful, didn’t start off this way. Since I’m recommending you travel with this airline I want to be transparent and tell you about their unfortunate past.

Southwest used to tell people, who they viewed as “too fat to fly” that they needed to purchase an additional seat. They got some terrible press after director Kevin Smith was removed from a flight because of his size.

Now that you know about this too fat to fly past, please know that I’ve only heard positive stories from plus size people who fly Southwest. Personally, I’ve had great experiences flying while fat with this airline.

Southwest has really turned things around! I’m glad they are now a size-friendly airline that I’m happy to financially support and recommend people fly.

Tips For The Day Of Your Flight:

Travel is stressful regardless of your size! Here are a few items you can pack in your carry-on that might come in handy well beyond just a neck pillow.

Rescue Remedy – A natural option for reducing stress.

Essential OilsLavender can help you distress and peppermint is great for an upset tummy.

Pepto Bismol or Immodium – You might want to consider taking something to settle your stomach if it gets upset while traveling.

Water Bottle – Airplane bathrooms are not flying while fat friendly! So be sure to go to the bathroom before you board. During your flight try to balance not taking in too many liquids but also be sure to stay hydrated

Plus Size Compression Stockings – These can be helpful for those longer flights!

Plus Size Babywearing Options – If you’re traveling with a baby, being hands-free will make your life a ton easier.

Uplifting Entertainment – Be it a podcast to listen to (**cough, cough** Plus Mommy Podcast) or a novel to read, having something to take your mind off things. Hopefully, you won’t encounter any fat shaming, but sadly there’s nothing on this list that stops people from being crappy. So if you do get a dirty look or a seatmate who makes you feel bad about yourself, try to tune it out as much as possible. Hopefully, you just need this entertainment for nothing else than to pass the time!

Seatbelt Extender – If you need it, ask for an extender! Your safety should always come first. If asking for one is something that makes you feel too embarrassed, then you can purchase one on Amazon. You’ll want to be sure whatever you purchase works with the airline you’re flying. You can contact the airline directly or ask the Flying While Fat Facebook group for some advice.

Seatbelt Extender

Related: Plus Size Travel With Chubby And Away

Self-Care – Be sure to take good care of yourself afterwards. You did a stressful thing and didn’t allow your size to hold you back – be proud!

Each time I fly, I share my expereice over on Plus Mommy Instagram stories to encouage others to not feel limited flying while fat.

I cover even more about flying while fat within the podcast recording below, so I hope you’ll listen!

Recording & Show Notes: Plus Mommy Podcast Episode 15

Resources Mentioned On The Show:

Thank You To Our Sponsor:

This episode was brought to you by Plus Size Birth! Use coupon code Plus Mommy to receive 20% off the My Plus Size Pregnancy Guide that covers everything you could want to know about having a plus size pregnancy.


Wednesday 10th of May 2023

As a male who is fat and disabled I have been through everything you have put into this video and blog. I really agree that some people are awful but like you I get in my seat and headphones on and ignore them for the entire flight. Not very friendly I know but neither are the ignorant people who complain about us fat people and also us disabled. Thank you for the blog.


Thursday 27th of October 2022

it seems really unfair that i would never be offered an additional free seat though i have extreme phobias about strangers touching me.

just because i weigh under 50 kilos, why should i not be given the same consideration?

many fat people often try to body shame me by telling me to eat, negatively commenting on my thin body, and physically encroaching into my personal space.

objectively, it's just as hard for many thin people as it is for obese people to live in the modern world.


Thursday 27th of October 2022

@madeleine, I'd encourage you to look at this policy as a win-win. By providing an additional seat for those who need it - it ensures that you will not be touched as well. We know it is a tight squeeze for people of most sizes, so let's advocate for comfort for those who need it, and everyone benefits.