Extra Plane Seat
Q: I'm a big guy and always have been. Because I'm over six feet, flying has never been comfortable for me, but it's even worse now that I'm on medications that have caused me to gain a lot of weight.
I haven't flown in several years, but I received an invitation for my granddaughter's wedding (my first grandchild to do so!). I'm happy to fly across the country to attend, even if I don't know what to do about the flight.
I know that some people are forced to buy an extra seat if they are too big, but I'm not sure if I need to do so.
How do I know if I need to buy an extra seat for flying?
A: Every airline has different requirements, but the rule of thumb is that you should buy an extra ticket if you don't fit into a seat with the armrests down (possibly with an extension seatbelt).
The travel industry is in a major cycle of change, and there's not yet a good solution to many major problems.
As airlines are trying to squeeze more passengers into smaller quarters, the size of the average person is also increasing. Although the industry may find a future solution, for now, the burden is on the customer to make it work.
It's better to be safe than sorry. If an airline finds that you don't meet their requirements and doesn't have room for you, their policy is to charge for an extra seat or force the passenger off the plane.
Policy information can be hard to find on the carriers' websites; try searching for "extra seat" or "customer of size" to find the right page. The most reliable strategy is to call the airline's customer service line directly.
Several (but not all) airlines will refund the cost of an additional ticket, as long as your flight isn't at full capacity.