Scared that I won't fit in plane seat

  • I am a size 24 top. Size 26 bottoms (uk sizing). About 300lb. I am losing weight but I have run out of time before a few plane trips. I don't want to miss out of such fantastic opportunities but I am having panic attacks over not being able to fit in the seat at all and being kicked off the flight altogether.

    The link below is to some pictures of me (as everyone carries weight differently.) Has anyone got any comforting words or stories?[email protected]/shares/708187

    Don’t worry. You will be just fine. You may find small airplanes seat a little uncomfortable but if those pics are any indication nobody will boot you from an airplane. You should request your airline to help you with a more comfortable seat. They may charge a little extra but it will be worth while. Enjoy your flight.

    As long as you don't choose to fly with Katie Hopkin's Airlines, you'll be fine.

    Maybe fly first class? There are bigger seats :)

  • In general, the airlines have the following rules:

    1. If the seatbelt doesn't fit, they will give you a seat belt extender. See more info about extender here:
    2. If one extender doesn't do it, the airline won't let you fly (this is very rare, though, and shouldn't be a problem for you)
    3. You need to fit between the two armrests. If you can't you need to buy two tickets.

    The latter one is tricky since, unfortunately, the airlines keep squeezing seat sizes more and more. United just introduced a "high-density" 777, which only has 17" seat width. I just rode that 14 hours from San Fran to Hong Kong and it was torture: even three "normal" sized males couldn't sit next to each other without twisting side ways (average shoulder width is 18.25" for males). On the other hand, the normal density 777 they fly from New York to Hong Kong is quite comfortable

    A good resource for finding out seat dimension is . You can put in any specific flight and they will show you the layout of the plane and the seat sizes. Try to get 18" or larger, although that's not easy to find these days.

    You can also throw money at the problem and buy a better ticket. The ticket types have become confusing as well: there is "Basic Economy", "Economy", "Economy Plus", "Premium Economy", "Domestic First", "International Business", "Business/First" "First" etc. Again, can help to cut through the marketing babble and get to actual seat dimension. Typically anything "Premium, Business, First" gives you wider seats. "Plus" may give you more legroom but only the same width.

    Finally: I do fly a lot and a I see a lot of people of size in planes and they do manage mostly fine. With a little bit of preparation and practice you can find out what works for you.

    Southwest actually offers that you buy a second seat so you have more space, and if the flight turns out not completely full, the extra seat is _free_ (=you get the money back).

    Unfortunately, United is far from the only airline operating 3-4-3 777s. Even Cathay Pacific has started switching to 3-4-3. They've become more the rule than the exception these days. Fortunately, Delta and Korean still fly 3-3-3 on their 777s. Also, 17" seats are normal for 737s and 757s (A320 family usually has 18", since the fuselage is a few inches wider.)

    Generally, Airbus planes have wider seats than Boeing planes, but this isn't an absolute rule. Also, the Boeing 767 with its 2-3-2 arrangement in economy has the widest seat in a widebody plane.

  • Different airlines have different polices on this. First of all, Hilmar's advice to check SeatGuru first is good advice. If you find there that the seats are narrower than your hips, you do have a few options, depending on airline and route.

    International Premium Cabins

    On large aircraft configured for long-haul routes, there will usually be Business and/or First-Class cabins that have quite spacious seats (most of which recline fully in to beds these days.) These are usually at least 20 inches (51 cm) wide, sometimes significantly more. Granted, they're typically not cheap.

    Domestic/Regional Premium Cabins

    For aircraft configured for short-haul (e.g. domestic, regional, or intra-Europe routes,) there are often still premium cabins, but they're not nearly as spacious (or expensive) as the ones you'll find on long-haul routes. In North America, these are typically called "First Class" and are significantly wider seats than what's installed in economy. In Europe, they're typically called "business class," and are the same width as what's installed in economy, but with the middle seat blocked off.


    There's less variation from short-haul to long-haul in the dimensions of economy seats than with the premium cabins. They're typically 17-18 inches (43-46 cm) wide on either short-haul or long-haul. Some very-low-cost airlines even have a 16-16.5 inches (40-42 cm). However, many airlines have policies allowing you to book the seat beside you, sometimes for free.

    According to this article and this article, here are the policies of some North American airlines (I don't personally know how these vary in Europe.)

    Free Extra Seat
    • Air Canada
    • WestJet
    Extra Seat Cost Reimbursed if Flight(s) Not Full
    • Alaska
    • Southwest
    Must Pay for Extra Seat
    • Allegiant
    • American
    • Frontier
    • JetBlue
    • Hawaiian
    • Spirit
    • United
    Will Seat Next to Empty Seat Free if Available, but Recommends Purchasing Extra Seat
    • Delta

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution

Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM