Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Flying While Fat, Part 2: Planning Ahead

Did you know that the typical airplane seat is only 17 inches wide? Granted, I haven't measured my fat ass lately, but I'm sure it's more than 17 inches, especially when sitting. I think one thigh alone is 12 inches in diameter.

I'm currently planning my birthday party in Vegas (the Second Annual 29th Birthday Party, or 29th Birthday 2: Electric Boogaloo). Because I will be flying out there on my actual birthday, I thought I'd look into what it will take to avoid any potential embarrassment at the airport - and to eliminate the need for me to worry about it.

In case you missed "Flying While Fat, Part 1," I explained there how I give myself a tension headache from worry every time I go to the airport. I'm always afraid that someone will raise a fuss about a fatty like me trying to squeeze into a seat for normal people. I don't want to worry about that anymore.

Admittedly, I will be losing weight over the summer. But there's no way I'll lose enough weight by then to be able to comfortably fit in an airline seat. Therefore, I've started my research. Below are some links to a few airlines and their policies for "Customers of Size."

- Southwest Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- United Airlines
- American Airlines

I have them arranged here from best to worst. Southwest seems most accommodating and considerate for those Flying While Fat. They also state that they're able to issue refunds 98% of the time for the extra ticket purchased. Conveniently, they also have some of the lowest fares to Vegas.

Very similar policy at Frontier. They're not quite as friendly in the FAQ as Southwest, but they do state similar qualifications for refunds for the extra ticket. Like Southwest, they also have low fares between Minneapolis and Vegas.

United is less friendly and doesn't mention anything about refunds, while American is almost mean about it. They make it seem like Flying While Fat is a crime and a personal insult to the airline. United is at least generous enough to waive the fees associated with buying an extra seat the day of travel, while American will charge you in any way they can. I'd like to point out that it also took considerable searching to find this information on their websites.

Delta Airlines didn't have anything listed (that I could find) on their website related to overweight passengers or "customers of size." I sent them a message, detailing Southwest's policy, asking if they have any procedure in place for their larger clientele. According to the form-letter response, they're busy and will respond within 48 hours. I'm curious what they will say.

Unless Delta comes forward and says they'll refund my extra ticket after the trip, I'm going to go ahead and follow either Southwest's or Frontier's policy and purchase the extra seat. One of the reasons I've been saving money this year is for a comfortable, fantastic trip for my birthday. If I can eliminate the need to worry myself over the flights, I'll be a much happier person. If I do, in fact, get the refund of that extra ticket? It'll be just like a birthday present.

1 comment:

  1. In case anyone is curious, Delta's response was pretty much the same as American's. No word about a refund, even though I directly asked about it and presented SW's policy as an example. I'm not going to press the issue - Delta's flights aren't cheap.