You may recall the recent controversy involving film director Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines that brought the issue of larger airline passengers back into public focus. However, this is not the first time that Southwest or other airlines have attracted media attention for confrontational dealings with customers of size.
Whether or not one finds it fair, the reality is that most regular seats will not accommodate a larger person. Most coach seats, for example, average a width of 17 inches. That means the seat was built for someone with 34 inch hips, which would be tight even for a “typical-sized” person. So what should you do?
1. Buddy up with another larger friend and share a third seat. Unfortunately, coach airline seats are unlikely to become more spacious anytime soon. By being proactive with your flying partner, you can help assure yourselves a more comfortable experience.
2. Fly at off-peak times. This includes early morning and “night owl” flights as well as midweek. Many airlines, even Southwest, will refund your extra fare if the plane is not full.
3. Fly first class. In some cases, a first-class seat may be less than an investment in two seats. Some may also find the usual 21-inch width to be more comfortable as well.
4. Fly to the Great White North! In 2009, the Canadian government passed a “one government, one fare” law that Canadian airlines are compelled to follow. Air Canada and West Jet are two airlines that feature many US destinations.