For the first time since starting this program, I’ll be traveling by plane soon. I know that for a lot of folks my size, air travel means hassle, embarrassment, extra costs, and bruised thighs. I’m curious to see if my next experience is any more pleasant than previous trips.
To get anywhere from Little Rock requires a short trip on a small jet like this one followed by an urgent hustle from the “puddle jumper” terminal to the “big plane” terminal. Sixty-six pounds heavier, I barely made it down the aisle and into my seat, still light headed and out of breath from tying my shoes. And putting down the tray table? You must be joking.
On the plane, I had to ask for a belt extender. The thing that flight attendants use to demonstrate the buckling/unbuckling process are also used to strap down “customers of size,” as Southwest Airlines calls us. On one trip, I booked an exit row seat because I read they have extra leg room. The flight attendant had to relocate me because the belt extender would be a tripping hazard during an emergency exit. On another trip, I was asked to move nearer the wings to more evenly distribute the weight on the plane.
The last time I went to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston I just drove.
For my “Readers of Size,” here are a few airline tips I’ve collected over the years.
- If you’re on an ERJ 145, book a seat on the left side. The left arm between you and the window raises if you can find the button. It’s flush along the bottom of the arm, closer to the pivot.
- Avoid the first and last few rows. As the plane tapers at each end the rows are narrower.
- Leave your belt, keys, and wallet in your carry-on. You don’t need any extra items taking up the little space you do have.
- Ask for the extension when you pass by the flight attendant upon boarding. Often, they have it within reach. If not, tell them what row you’re on. When you leave the plane, hand it back.
- Avoid the bulkhead rows. These seats have the tray table in a pocket between the seats. Consequently, you can’t raise the armrest.
- Walk back to the restroom to see if there are any vacant seats together.
- Look up your plane on Seat Guru when selecting seats for extra insight.
I’ll let you know how my trip goes this time. Here’s hoping its a bit easier. I know the walk across the terminal will be a cinch.