Sunday, March 30, 2008

Flying While Fat

A few months back I installed one of those stat counter things on my blog and it gives you keyword analysis that shows what search terms people have put into search engines and found your blog. I check this occasionally and have noticed that almost every person that finds my blog through google is doing so because they are searching for information on flying when overweight. It directs them to my blog because I wrote a post before I went on my first overseas trip about being Too Fat To Fly.

It really breaks my heart when I see some of the things people are searching for and I recognise their panic and desperation. I wanted to write what I could to help those people who do find this blog when searching for flying information. When I was at my biggest I remember being terrified that the airline would make me buy an extra seat or that I wouldn't fit in the seat at all. I was worried that the seat belt wouldn't fit, the food tray wouldn't go down and that I wouldn't be able to use the bathroom. When you are really overweight doing anything can be scary and flying was just a minefield of possibilities for humiliation.

My biggest weight when flying was 126.5 kilos (278 lbs) and I fit into the seat ok, it wasn't comfortable, but I was ok. The seat belt did not fit me and on the first leg on the journey I took a jacket to put over my lap and no one noticed that I didn't have a seat belt on. On the way home a kind and discreet air hostess handed me an extender without saying a word. I was too scared to attempt putting my tray down or going to the bathroom because I suspect they would not have been successful endeavours. Flying at this weight was not fun, but it can be done and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I normally fly alone for work and I think it would help if you were flying with someone you know and didn't have to suffer the glares of the stranger who is unhappy they have to sit next to you.

My second largest weight when flying was 110 kilos (242 lbs) and the seat belt just fit me with about half an inch to spare, the tray just went down and I was easily able to use the plane bathrooms. I felt a lot better then my last flight but I still felt uncomfortable about my size.

My most recent flight was at 97 kilos (213.5 lbs) and remarkably the seat belt had about 5 inches to spare when I did it up. The tray was a lot more comfortable to pull down, but still a little too close for comfort for me. I was in the middle seat and I did notice that I still felt like I was taking up more space then I was entitled to and I was careful to keep my arms as close to me as possible.

Lately I have been flying for work and I will be going on about 10 more trips this year. I am so glad that I have lost some weight already and it makes these trips so much easier. I still try to get on the plane as early as possible because I am nervous about walking down those narrow aisles and about getting into my seat and doing up the seat belt. I don't use the bathroom unless I am desperate- but really, who likes to use the plane toilets?! I would say that I am relaxed about flying now, but I would definitely like to have a bit more space to make the flight more comfortable.


  1. Just kind of stumbled across you from someone else's blog as I was meandering - think it was Beckies. Love your frank honest style of writing - I'll be back! Cheers Z xx

  2. I've never been at a size where I've worried about things like flying, and you bring up some things I'd never thought of- the tray table and the bathrooms... seems odd that there's an area of being fat that had never occured to me! Informative post, too :)

  3. I just found you as well through Chris H's blog! Interesting post, will be back as well. Right now have a friend planning an overseas trip and her biggest worry is about the belt not fitting. I do find even now at around 25 k's lighter that I still feel I encroach on others - the seats are way too small!!!

  4. It's lovely of you to post that stuff to help people who are looking for that info.
    How tall are you? That can factor into size as well.

  5. Great post! (And smart blogging, btw!)

    Oh, and the video is up on my blog if you want to check it out!

  6. ooooh how do u download that stat counter thingo.

    Oh and 97kgs? WOOOO HOOO0OOOO look at you go woman!!!!

    Im getting close to 90, still a few kgs off, fucking awesome!!!


  7. One thing about planes - no matter how much weight you lose, they will never be comfortable; people will always put their seats back in front of you, and there'll always be nowhere near enough space.

    But, it is good when you find yourself free of the fear of flying because of the seatbelt size. You've made awesome inroads and it's amazing and inspirational how far you've come :-D {{{HUGZ}}}

  8. You know, it's more often than not, that I read something you've written that parrallels my life almost perfectly. This is another post that has done that.

    I flew to the USA in 1996 for the Olympics. I was 145kgs and my seat was in the middle of the plane. Exactly in the middle. I was too scared to ask people to move so I could go to the toilet and the seatbelts were never going to go around me. Eating? Sure, that was fun with a tray on an agle because I couldn't get it down past my enormous tummy.

    In 2002 I did the same trip at 99kgs. What a difference. Entirely different experience. Not only because of my weight, but because of my self confidence. Sure I was still big but I didn't care about asking people to move so I could go to the toilet. I didn't feel like I was encroaching on their space. I felt just as worthy to be there as what they did.

    I still remember being able to put the tray down for the first time and not asking for a seat belt extender for the first time. I grinned from ear to ear but couldn't share it with anyone. So I sat, eating and grinning like a crazy lady.

    Did you feel the same elation?

  9. Thank you for writing this post. Even though I'm overweight, I've never had any flying challenges above or beyond the usual discomfort of getting into seats that are packed too close even for skinny people. My partner is quite tall and his poor knees always butt up against the seat in front of him.

    Can you get your company to spring for business class? It is far more comfortable and if you travel alot, it is the healthiest way to travel. They should spring for it.

  10. I've only flown twice in my life, and it was about 2 years ago. My weight was close to what it is now, and I also did a Google search on flying when fat and the size of airplane seats!

    Needless to say, the seatbelt did not fit me. I sat with my arms across my stomach the entire flight, hiding the seatbelt. :(


Awww thanks so much for the comment!