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Person Gets Trapped By A Plus-Size Woman On A Flight, Makes Her Cry After Asking To Switch Seats
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Person Gets Trapped By A Plus-Size Woman On A Flight, Makes Her Cry After Asking To Switch Seats

Interview With Author
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Flying, no matter what size, can be anxiety-inducing for many people. However, plus-size individuals face even more obstacles when traveling, often denying them the opportunity to experience things commonly available to others. 

One is airplane seating, which this flyer unexpectedly learned after neighboring a plus-size woman on an 8-hour flight. It was soon clear that the seat couldn’t accommodate her, as she was taking up more and more space. Struggling with claustrophobia, the person next to her asked for a new seat, causing mid-air AITA drama to ensue.

Scroll down to find the full story, and a conversation with its author, who kindly agreed to tell us more about it.

Plus-size people face many more obstacles while traveling

Image credits: friends_stock / Envato (not the actual photo)

This woman experienced it firsthand when the lack of space became a huge problem mid-air

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Image credits: MART PRODUCTION / Pexels (not the actual photo)

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Image credits: Pew Nguyen / Pexels (not the actual photo)

Image credits: Grubby-housewife

“I would better inform plus-sized individuals on the size of the seats on a flight”

Image credits: Longxiang Qian / Pexels (not the actual photo)

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Bored Panda reached out to the author of the story, who kindly agreed to answer a few of our questions. Naturally, we were curious to know what encouraged her to post it in the Reddit community. She told us, “I was inspired to share my story online because I was so conflicted as to whether or not my actions had been inappropriate or wrong at the time. I hoped that by sharing my story, I could hear other perspectives on what happened.”

Surprisingly, such an incident was a first for this flyer. “For me, this was a one-off incident, though most people I know who fly often have dealt with unpleasant seatmates at one time or another. I doubt this will be my last unpleasant experience.”

If she could change something and prevent this from happening again, she would suggest letting people know about the seat size in advance. “I would better inform plus-sized individuals on the size of the seats on a flight and warn them in advance if they may need seatbelt extenders or a second seat to avoid any surprise or embarrassment caused by them discovering they do not fit correctly upon entering the plane.”

Airlines can definitely put more effort into making flights accessible to everyone

Unfortunately, the truth is that the current policies for passengers who need more room have not kept up. According to National Geographic travel host and award-winning content creator Jeff Jenkins, airlines can definitely put more effort into making flights accessible to everyone. “We are still waiting on the FAA to give dimensions for standard seat sizes for each aircraft,” he says. “We hope that they listen to us and make seats wider.”

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What makes this even more complicated is that every big airline has a different set of rules dealing with what the industry calls “customers of size.” The passengers are often left to figure them out on their own, often resulting in frustration for both the client whose seat is too small as well as their neighbors, who may feel that their personal space is being invaded. 

To try and combat this issue, plus-size travel influencer Jae’lynn Chaney launched a petition in April 2023 urging the FAA to instruct all airlines to establish a comprehensive customer-of-size policy that prioritizes the comfort and well-being of all passengers. 

“We need the policies to be a little bit more standardized,” Chaney tells CNN Travel. “At the bare minimum, we need every airline to have a policy that tells people of size how to navigate their airline.” As a result, all plus-size passengers would be appreciative of clearer rules, which would eliminate many misunderstandings. 

Image credits: Sarah Chai / Pexels (not the actual photo)

The good news is that some airlines are taking steps in the right direction

What is gaining more attention is the idea that plus-size passengers should have a second seat. And they shouldn’t have to pay for it because their weight is a disability. Chaney is reassuring that they aren’t looking for any special treatment, only asking for the same respect that a thinner person gets from an airline.

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“People with smaller bodies get to pay one fare to get to their destination,” she says. “And we have to pay two fares, even though we’re getting the same experience. If anything, our experiences are a little bit more challenging.”

The good news is that some airlines are taking steps in the right direction. Southwest is often the most popular among the plus-size travel community due to its customer-of-size policy. It allows passengers to pre-purchase a second seat when they make their reservation. The cost of the second seat gets refunded after travel. 

On their website, the company indicates when a person should require extra room. “The armrest is the definitive gauge for a customer-of-size. It serves as the boundary between seats. If you’re unable to lower both armrests and/or encroach upon any portion of a seat next to you, you need a second seat.”

Chaney regularly shares many other tips on flying as a plus-size person on her TikTok account, and one thing that still surprises her is that a lot of individuals don’t know that seat belt extenders exist and that they’re all available on all flights. It might not be comfortable to ask others to accommodate your needs, especially when faced with unaware passengers or flight attendants. However, it has to be done in order to make travel accessible for everyone. 

The author provided more information in the comments

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arranrichards avatar
Tobias Reaper
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

the fact that she got defensive and accused OP of body shaming her when she never mentioned her weight means she was well aware of what she was doing and that she was causing a problem she should have paid for an extra seat the airline should have said something at check in

karenhann avatar
Insomniac
Community Member
1 month ago

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

Obesity is most often linked to trauma. Untreated trauma survivors sometimes think of themselves as victims, and those that do will deliberately seek out conflict to reinforce that feeling. This woman is severely mentally ill. However, that does not excuse her behaviour. Trauma is not something you do to yourself. It's done to you. But it's still your responsibility to seek out proper treatment and work to heal. Obviously, that woman has not done that. I sincerely hope she does.

Load More Replies...
shylabouche_1 avatar
Bouche and Audi and Shyla, Oh My!
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I'm morbidly obese. When I was released from prison, the prison bought me two seats. I was very grateful. Were I to need to fly again, I would definitely buy two seats.

xterminal avatar
Robert Beveridge
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I first misread that as the prison bought you two seals and I was wondering if we'd been led astray about Bouche and Audi's species...

Load More Replies...
de-snoekies avatar
Alexandra
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I will never understand this. If you are a larger sized human being and you intend to fly coach, you know you will not fit properly in your seat and that you will inconvenience the person next to you. You can talk all you want about bodyshaming, but that doesn't change the fact that people will be impacted by your size through no choice of theirs. People are not required to have to fold into themselves just to avoid spill-over on your side. Why not just opt for making things agreeable for both parties? Book a second seat if you don't fit into one.

tessananemenski avatar
Tessana Nemenski
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

ok. I have been on different airbuses and boeings over the years and it varies by both the airlines and the configuration- American Airlines and United Airlines Airbus Neo Configurations are HORRIBLE (even my "tiny" coworkers felt trapped in the coach seats on those flights). That's problem one, you really don't know unless you REALLY research it (and then it may not matter, because the Airline can change out the plane at the last moment for whatever reason). How about we get the airlines to actually have seats that are accommodating to ALL folks instead of packing us in like sardines and rigging the system to force people to buy 2 seats for comfort?

Load More Replies...
Load More Comments
arranrichards avatar
Tobias Reaper
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

the fact that she got defensive and accused OP of body shaming her when she never mentioned her weight means she was well aware of what she was doing and that she was causing a problem she should have paid for an extra seat the airline should have said something at check in

karenhann avatar
Insomniac
Community Member
1 month ago

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

Obesity is most often linked to trauma. Untreated trauma survivors sometimes think of themselves as victims, and those that do will deliberately seek out conflict to reinforce that feeling. This woman is severely mentally ill. However, that does not excuse her behaviour. Trauma is not something you do to yourself. It's done to you. But it's still your responsibility to seek out proper treatment and work to heal. Obviously, that woman has not done that. I sincerely hope she does.

Load More Replies...
shylabouche_1 avatar
Bouche and Audi and Shyla, Oh My!
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I'm morbidly obese. When I was released from prison, the prison bought me two seats. I was very grateful. Were I to need to fly again, I would definitely buy two seats.

xterminal avatar
Robert Beveridge
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I first misread that as the prison bought you two seals and I was wondering if we'd been led astray about Bouche and Audi's species...

Load More Replies...
de-snoekies avatar
Alexandra
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I will never understand this. If you are a larger sized human being and you intend to fly coach, you know you will not fit properly in your seat and that you will inconvenience the person next to you. You can talk all you want about bodyshaming, but that doesn't change the fact that people will be impacted by your size through no choice of theirs. People are not required to have to fold into themselves just to avoid spill-over on your side. Why not just opt for making things agreeable for both parties? Book a second seat if you don't fit into one.

tessananemenski avatar
Tessana Nemenski
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

ok. I have been on different airbuses and boeings over the years and it varies by both the airlines and the configuration- American Airlines and United Airlines Airbus Neo Configurations are HORRIBLE (even my "tiny" coworkers felt trapped in the coach seats on those flights). That's problem one, you really don't know unless you REALLY research it (and then it may not matter, because the Airline can change out the plane at the last moment for whatever reason). How about we get the airlines to actually have seats that are accommodating to ALL folks instead of packing us in like sardines and rigging the system to force people to buy 2 seats for comfort?

Load More Replies...
Load More Comments
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