Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Flying While Fat: A Follow-Up

I want to talk about Vegas. I really do. But first, I want to talk about my experience in the air.

You may have read some of my previous posts about Flying While Fat. Most notably, this one: Flying While Fat: Part 2. That's where I basically planned my flights to Vegas.

If you don't feel like reading that one, let me sum it up. I booked my flights with Southwest Airlines not only because they were cheapest, but also because they were the most generous with their policy for "customers of size." As a large woman, I've never been comfortable sitting on an airplane.

What I had to do with Southwest was buy two tickets, and after the flights there was a chance that the second seat could be refunded. Since Southwest uses "cattle call" boarding (no assigned seats), I also was able to pre-board because I had to be guaranteed two seats together. There's no point to having two seats if I can't spill over into the second one.

I got to the airport last Wednesday a little early because I didn't really know what was going to happen once I got there. Because of the two seats situation, I didn't want to check in online before my flight.

The person at the check-in counter was a little clueless. But luckily, she was smart enough to ask another person how to handle a "customer of size." Soon, I was on my way to the security line with boarding passes and seat reservation signs. Since Southwest flies out of the Humphrey terminal (excuse me - Terminal 2), the line was short and within a few steps I was at my gate. One of my favorite things about Southwest? They have nice leather seats in their gate areas. Not a lot of them, but if you get there early enough, you've got a comfy option while you wait.

The gate agents were fantastic. You know those Southwest commercials you see on TV where all their employees are happy-go-lucky and totally love their jobs? They're really like that! It was crazy. One dude was even singing over the PA. It was great. I was amused. They were also really good to me when I asked about when I was supposed to board. Turns out I had to talk to them so I could get a pre-boarding pass. Of course, the pass said "Pre-Board on the basis of disability" on it. I wasn't so sure how I felt about that - I don't really see my size as a disability... but it turns out that those are the only pre-boarding passes they have. They also have the option of people paying extra to be able to board early, and those people get the same pre-boarding passes. So I'm ok with that now.

I got on the plane, put the reservation pass on the seat next to me, and settled in for the flight. It was perfect. I didn't feel cramped. I didn't feel like I was invading anybody's space. And no one gave me that "I sure hope I don't end up sitting by her" look. Finally. This is how I plan to travel until I lose weight.

I realize that I'm really talking up Southwest. I should point out that Frontier also has a policy where they'll refund the second seat if the flights are not oversold. I'm sure they're just as fantastic as Southwest - I've just never flown with them before.

So that's Flying While Fat. Next up: Vegas!

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