Are you too fat to fly?

crowded20plane1Reports of airlines refusing to board some overweight passengers have the more than 1/3 of Americans who are obese wondering, am I too fat to fly?

ABC News reports that the FAA’s only steadfast rulings for obese travelers are that all passengers must be able to properly wear seat belts, a passenger cannot be seated in an emergency exit row seat if a seatbelt extension is required, and no aisle may be blocked by a passenger in case of an emergency.

If you think you may be too big to fly in a standard coach seat, there are a few steps to take to ensure that you, and the person sitting next to you, enjoy a comfortable flight.

  1. Buy an extra seat: As you may have read here recently, USA Today reports that some passengers will be “fully reimbursed for the second fare in 90% of cases.” Air France, Southwest, JetBlue and American Airlines now promise to reimburse obese fliers the fare of the second airline ticket if the plane isn’t full.
  2. The first come, first serve advantage: Southwest, EasyJet, and few other European low costs carriers offer early bird benefits for obese travelers. Travelers who show up at the airport early can board first and choose a desirable seat.
  3. Upgrade: If possible, purchase a business or first class airline ticket. The extra investment in your comfort is the difference between seats that are 17 to 18 inches wide and seats that are up 35 inches wide.

For the latest on airline specific policies regarding overweight passengers and other in-flight policies, read our Airline News page.