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A Flight Attendants Guide To Flying While Plus Size | Plus Size Travel

March 26, 2019

A Flight Attendants Guide To Flying While Plus Size | Plus Size Travel

March 26, 2019
European Travel

If like me, taking a flight fills you with dread, this is the post for you.

As a plus size traveller, it can be hard to know whether or not you’re going to have a comfortable flight in advance. Whilst most airlines will have small, hard-to-fit seats, there are a number of things you can do to make your journey as comfortable as you possibly can.

To help, I’ve got together with Abbie, a plus size flight attendant, to find out absolutely everything you need to know about flying while fat.


Hello Abbie! Thank you so much for taking part in this Q&A. It’s so great to have an air hostess’ expert opinion, especially one who is plus-size themselves. 
 

My first question is – do you ever have plus size passengers approach you before a flight expressing their concerns and asking for advice? Is this something airlines would encourage their passengers to do?

 
Hi Kirsty! You’re very welcome! I’m really excited to be a part of this! Of course, I am delighted to help and give some insight. I will do my best.
Only a few times have customers approached and expressed their concerns to me about being plus size, generally people have only approached me to ask for an extension seatbelt – and usually, they’re pretty confident. This may be due to the fact our airline, as well as many others, promote diversity a lot and our passengers feel comfortable around us (cabin crew members).
The few customers who have however displayed their concerns are generally customers who feel they may need/want to move seats to not disturb others/or for their own comfort. Sometimes it may be that they are too shy or embarrassed to ask for an extension seatbelt. I would always encourage our passengers to be honest with us and to try their best not to feel uncomfortable and feel free to ask us questions. There is nothing wrong with using an extension or even moving to sharing two seats. We only want our customers to feel comfortable and most importantly safe, but to enjoy their travelling experience with us.

When going through training do you receive any training regarding plus-size passengers? If so, what does this entail?

Yes, we were educated on the use of the extension seatbelt for both infants and for plus size people. We were also informed about the process in which larger customers may purchase themselves two seats rather than one for more comfort and room, or they can obviously buy seating in another cabin – such as premium economy, business or first class. Premium economy, business and first class seats are generally more spacious and comfortable, but if you are thinking of buying two economy seats make sure you compare to other cabins as you could be spending more!

What advice would you offer to a passenger who’s seatbelt doesn’t fit?

Just be honest and let one of us know, please don’t feel embarrassed or scared. An extension seatbelt will be given to you and should be shown how to use it if you are unsure. We are there for your safety and support!

Would you advise passengers to bring their own seatbelt extender?

No, not really. I personally wouldn’t as all airlines provide them and are comfortable. Unless your anxious and would rather bring your own, whatever makes you feel comfortable! However we may check its suitable to our safety standards, but this is normal.

What should a passenger do if they don’t comfortably sit in their seat?

Usually, if you’ve travelled before or often you’ll know what seat to purchase or how many and in which cabin, but if you arrive on the aircraft and become uncomfortable with your seat then make yourself known to a flight attendant. We always try our best to accommodate. Sometimes, there isn’t much we can do if the flight is full, but often we will try and move them to a more comfortable seat or provide blankets and pillows. Not often would you be upgraded free of charge.
What I would suggest though, especially if it’s going to be a long flight, make sure you take some ‘comfys’ with you, such as your own blankets, pyjamas, comfy clothes or a travel pillow.

Is there any advice you can offer to passengers who struggle to get their tray table down, especially on long haul flights where it’s required for eating meals?

This can be a frustrating and a tricky obstacle annoyingly. The easiest way to get around this is to upgrade into another cabin, business and first class have plenty of room and a variety of tray tables. Usually, people will place their meal tray on top of their laps or hold their tray when sitting in a more confined seat, it isn’t always practical, unfortunately. If this is not possible, eating in the galley (kitchen) areas is another alternative or politely asking a crew member to use their jump seat for the meal service.

Often plus-size passengers struggle to walk up and down a plane aisle, but at times it can’t be avoided due to the placement of the toilets in comparison to the plane’s door. Is there a ‘best seat’ you’d recommend to avoid walking up and down the aisle as much as possible?

I haven’t really thought about this before, but yes I guess so. I would probably recommend being seated where you would get the most use for yourself. For example, if you walk around or like to stand up a lot I would recommend being seated near a galley, or if you will be using the restroom often and do struggle with gaining access then I would suggest sitting closer to a bathroom. I personally would prefer to be in between, in the middle of both.

In your opinion, what seat would you recommend a plus size person book on a plane? Aisle, middle or window?

This is a hard question, it depends if you will be getting up often I guess. After thought, though, I think the isle would be most comfortable and accessible, or if possible an over wing exit as these have more leg room and don’t invade your neighbouring passengers as much.

Plane toilets can be incredibly small. Do you have any words of advice or comfort for passengers that may be worried they don’t fit?

The toilets are so small for all passengers, so please do not feel at all anxious about fitting, as even I struggle to turn around in them sometimes especially in a single-aisle aircraft (generally short haul).
If you are worried and are travelling on a longer flight usually there is at least one disabled toilet which is always bigger, or ask a cabin crew member where and if you would be able to use one of the larger toilets that are spread around the aircraft. Most newer long haul aircraft have larger toilets anyhow, but the smaller single-aisle short-haul plane toilets are getting smaller as a space saver.
If it’s a short flight I usually use the bathroom before I get on, and hope I don’t need to use it throughout the flight.

When it comes to upgrading to premium economy, business or first class – how do these seats differ in size on average across airlines? Would you recommend this as an option?

Most airlines upgraded cabins are more spacious as the cabin upgrades, and I do recommend it. You really are paying for what you get. You don’t only get a larger and more comfortable seat and bedding, but more environmental space as well – the isles are generally a little wider. That answer probably helps a little with the previous isle question!

In light of recent news, have you ever experienced a passenger fat-shaming another passenger on one of your flights? What is the policy should this happen?

Recent news? I try to stay away from the news, and I haven’t personally ever come across ‘fat shaming’. If it did occur, however, we have a no discrimination and abuse policy and it would be addressed professionally.

Is there any information you feel plus size passengers should know before flying? Perhaps something that isn’t often mentioned so people don’t know what’s available to them. 

Well, I don’t want to upset or make anyone anxious who is maybe travelling soon but, what I will say is, unfortunately, some passengers and even sometimes cabin crew members can be unwelcoming and rude. This shouldn’t happen and doesn’t usually occur often, but if it does make it known! PLEASE! Make sure to tell someone, such as the manager on the flight, write on a complaints card/or online. An attitude such as this needs to be addressed more when it does happen to help us stop this from happening in the future.

A number of airlines allow you to purchase an extra seat in their ‘people of size policy’ – is this something you would suggest passengers do if they’re worried? 

Like I mentioned before, I would probably and personally suggest looking into an upgraded cabin first as it may be cheaper rather than to buy two seats in say economy or premium economy. If this is not the case, I probably would research into the airline your thinking of booking with and look at seat sizes possibly before you purchase the extra seat as you don’t want to waste any money. I have a brilliant website I found that informs people on seat dimensions for which airline! – SeatGuru.

Finally, what would you number one piece of advice be to a plus size person travelling by plane?

Be confident and be you!

I hope this Q & A was what you were hoping, and that it has given you all a bit more of an insight – although you may have known it all already. Or even wish it may have been a bit more interesting or exciting!  Maybe next time, well talk about funny moments I’ve experienced and will try and make you laugh!  Thanks again for having me!

About Abbie

I am 22 years old and have visited 22 countries! I’m a plus size flight attendant who travels the world and has so many more places to see! Since 2017 I have been working for British Airways as Cabin Crew.

I am based in London Heathrow and I live in Brighton.

In love with travel, marmite, Diet Coke, Disney and anything to do with animals or America! Oh, and anyone who can make me laugh is a winner!

I’m a previous photography student and hope to start sharing my imagery, stories and travels on my new blog! If you can’t find me I’m probably at 35,000ft pointing out your nearest exits!

Abbie’s social profiles:
If you want to follow Abbie and her amazing adventures as she travels the world one job at a time, you can do so here: 
 
Thank you SO MUCH to Abbie for all of her incredible advice. Is there anything you would add?
  • Jess March 27, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    This was such an amazing post! I loved that there was so many practical tips as well as a lot of reassurance!

    xoxo
    Jess
    The Crown Wings | UK Travel & Lifestyle Blog

  • Laura Haley March 29, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Kirsty you are smashing it with the plus size travel content at the moment. Really enjoyed this post, thanks for the answers Abbie-great collaboration both of you

  • I'M KIRSTY LEANNE

    My mission is simple. I want to help change the way travel looks, showing both brands and society that plus size people really do travel too. In a community where plus size travellers are made to feel unwelcome, I want to inspire and advise people like me on how they can make the most out of their own incredible travel experiences.Join me as I share my own personal experiences, my best tips and tricks and all of the challenges I face along the way. It won’t always be an easy ride, but it sure as hell will be a fun one.

    Together, we can change the way that travel looks today

    WHAT TO EXPECT

    Instagram

    • AD | Gifted 💫 Probably my last field photo for a while as starting this weekend I’M SHOOTING AUTUMN CONTENT. I’ve got a Pinterest board full of inspo, lots of amazing outfits to shoot and a million and one ideas about locations. I am SO excited. Can you tell? 🍂
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Also, the hill you can see in the background of this photo is called the Wrekin, somewhere I *used* to love walking up. Earlier this week my Mum told me that there’s a famous saying based on the Wrekin, does anyone know what it is? 🙊👇🏻
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❤️ Co-ord gifted by @boohoo @boohooplus #boohoo #boohooplus #boohoocurve #boohoouk #boohooplussize
    • AD | Gifted 💫 Although I love writing my travel content I have found lately the posts I enjoy writing the most are my guides to plus size travel. Whether it’s plus size travel essentials or surviving hot countries and warm weather whilst plus size, I LOVE sharing my tips and tricks with the world 🙌🏻❤️
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With over 100 posts on my *to write* list, I still have LOADS more plus size travel advice to come your way! What would you like to see next? 👇🏻
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❤️ Dress gifted by @yoursclothinguk #yoursclothing #yoursclothinguk #plussizetravel #plussizetraveltoo
    • Bosnia has easily been one of the most stunning countries I have ever visited. Even though we only spent a few hours driving through the mountains and exploring Mostar, I know it’s a country I want to go back and see more of when I get the chance 🇧🇦
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When we visited Bosnia, we were on a day trip from Dubrovnik. We spent a lot of time spent in the tour bus but I definitely think it was worth it to 1) cross another country off my list and 2) get the chance to experience Bosnia for the first time 👏🏻❤️
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Do you like long day trips when you’re travelling? Or do you prefer to stay in one place? 👇🏻 #Bosnia #bosniaandherzegovina #bosniatravel #visitbosnia #mostar #mostarbridge #mostarbosnia #starimost
    • AD | Gifted 💫 The irony of this photo is that although I am wearing a tee that says ‘Hello Sunshine’ - it was absolutely chucking it down when I took this photo ☔️
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With lots of things to shoot and no content, me and @unwrittenchloee thought it would be a great idea to shoot during nonstop rain. We packed umbrellas, hid in the car when the rain got worse and as expected, only managed to shoot one outfit each 🤷🏼‍♀️
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As excited as I am for autumn, I hope the rain isn’t here to stay 🤭🌧 •
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❤️ Tee gifted from @fashionworlduk
❤️ Skirt gifted from @fashionworlduk
❤️ Bag gifted from @fashionworlduk
❤️ Trainers gifted from @fashionworlduk #fashionworld #fashionworlduk #plussizefashion #plussizebloggers #plussizeblog
    • AD | Gifted 💫 This weekend has been a super busy one so I’ve decided I’m taking the rest of the night off to relax with a Netflix Original and some Milkway Magic Stars ✨
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What are your favourite Netflix Original movies? I need some inspiration 🍿🎬
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❤️ Dress gifted by @lovedrobe #lovedrobeuk #lovedrobe #lovedrobeloves #plussizefashion #plussizeblogger
    • AD | Gifted ☀️ Yesterday I posted on Twitter that I had spent the morning pitching brands and PR agencies and had managed to score myself three high-paying campaigns, one gifting campaign and two potential collaborations for next month. After a couple more responses this morning, I’ve now turned August into my best month ever when it comes to blogging! 🙌🏻👏🏻
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I think it just goes to show that most of the time, people’s success is what they make it. If I hadn’t taken the time out to pitch the people that I have, I’d probably be having a very very quiet summer ☀️
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Although I have my ‘Guide To Pitching Products, Payments and Press Trips eBook’ that you can buy, I wanted to share some pitching tips with you on here. Whether you’ve been pitching for years or you’re about to send your first one, these could definitely come in handy.... 👇🏻
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1️⃣ Always find the right contacts, rather than pitching blindly. Whether you meet them at an event, find them on LinkedIn or see their details online - you need to be sure you’re talking to the right person.
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2️⃣ Pitch an idea. If you can’t see a way in which you and the brand could be working together, you probably shouldn’t be pitching them in the first place.
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3️⃣ Be specific about what you want and what you’re going to do in return.
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4️⃣ Whilst we’re on the topic, don’t promise the world. If you’re promising too much, you’re going to find that you under deliver each and every time.
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5️⃣ Finally, make sure you have a detailed media kit to send to brands. This should detail your key stats, what makes you unique and case studies of previous campaigns you have worked on.
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Do you pitch brands? What has been your biggest success so far? 👇🏻❤️
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❤️ Dress gifted by @lovedrobe #lovedrobe #lovedrobeloves #plussizefashion #plussize #psbloggers
    • EXCITING NEWS TIME 🎉
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This is a little different to what I’d normally be posting but it is DEFINITELY worth breaking the Instagram theme for one photo. After sending what is probably one of the scariest proposals I have ever sent, I can finally say that I’m going to be hosting a panel on ‘Pitching Brands For Products, Payments and Press Trips’ at the Women In Travel Summit in Riga, Latvia. Not only will I be spend spending the weekend with some incredibly inspiring women, but I’m going to have the chance to explore a city that’s been on my list for years. Who will I be seeing there? 🙋🏼‍♀️
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If you are planning on buying your ticket, there’s going to be a flash sale on Friday! #WITSRiga
    • Happy Friday! 🙌🏻 A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had to cancel my upcoming trip to Thailand due to the fact things had been a little slow when it came to freelance work and blogging opportunities. As gutted as I am, I also decided it would be best to put all travel on hold for at least six months - excluding the odd press trip, if I was to be invited on one ✈️💙
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Although the rest of my 2019 looks quiet in terms of travel, little trips and opportunities are starting to crop up. From speaking at Social Travel Summit in Italy to being on a panel at Borderless Live in London, at least I know I’m not going to be stuck at home the *entire* time. I’m also going to try and explore places that are a little closer to home, as honestly, I don’t think I’ve seen half as much of England as I should have 🏡 •
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What do you do when you don’t have the opportunity to travel as often as you normally would? 👇🏻 #travel #travelblogger #tbloggers #travelblogging #travelblog #tblogger
    • AD | This is the happy face of someone who has realised she can wear playsuits, short skirts and dresses all summer long thanks to Ivyverdure. As much as I stand by my trusty anti-chafing shorts, sometimes it’s just too hot to wear them with everything, right? 🤷🏼‍♀️☀️
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I’d honestly written off being able to wear playsuits and short dress for fear of chub rub, especially when walking around extremely hot countries all day. That was, until I used @ivyverdure irelief for the first time ever, of course 🙌🏻
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This magical (yes magical) anti-friction stick is designed to stop chafing and rashes. All you need to do is rub the formula where you’d normally experience chafing and then go about the rest of your day. I find I have to top up every now and again for the best results, but I know lots of people can go the whole day without having to reapply. It smells delicious, it’s easy to apply and it’s small enough to pop in your bag when you’re on the go. At just 60ml per stick, you can even pack it in your hand luggage for a flight! ✈️ •
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If you want to try Ivyverdure for yourself, they have kindly given me a discount code for you to use for 15% off - all you need to do is enter KIRSTY15 at the checkout ❤️🙌🏻 #Ivyverdure #Irelief #antichafe #chubrub #travelessentials #blisters #organic #vegan

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Changing the way Travel looks today ❤️
    • ✈ PLUS SIZE TRAVEL PROBLEMS PT 2 ✈
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Although I talk a lot about the problems plus size people face when they travel, I wanted to go that one step further and show it in a way that would make EVERYONE want to listen. With such a long list of images I wanted to create, a couple of months ago I hired an incredible designer (@creatiffi) to help create them for me. She has done an INCREDIBLE job, as I feel they really get across how we may feel when we're travelling  even if we don't say it outloud. Whether it's being worried you won't fit on a ride or awkwardly laughing off that a tray table doesn't fit, deep down we're thinking something completely different to what we may be saying or doing.
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So, whether you're plus size and you can relate to these images or you're straight size and you want to help bring attention to the #plussizetraveltoo campaign, I would LOVE it if you could share this post far and wide. Tag your friends, post on your stories or even send them over direct message. Thank you so so much ❤
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