People say we’re too fat for plane seats but we refuse to buy two – airlines should upgrade us for free to give us space
THIS summer some Brits are struggling to get on the plane more than most – plus size passengers.
As would-be tourists face strike-induced queues and cancelled flights at UK airports, bigger travellers are taking a stance against seats that they claim are too small.
They are now asking for travel equality by demanding seats to fit their ample behinds, as well as bigger bathrooms – or upgrade them to business or first class with no extra change.
Empowerment coach Meg Goldberger, 24, from Cardiff, Wales, who weighs 20st, says she is fed up with discrimination.
She tells The Sun: “This summer’s going to see more flights cancelled and plus size people should not have to endure bullying and fat shaming on planes.
“I want airlines to offer us business or first class upgrades for free if there are empty seats.
“I won’t pay for it but it means we get access to bigger toilets and bigger seats. It makes flying more comfortable for me.”
Meg says she can’t use seat trays on flights and is terrified of getting stuck in the small economy loo.
She adds: “I’m an empowerment coach and demanding better facilities for plus size people is important, especially with strikes and airlines unable to even look after luggage currently.”
Size 24 Meg claims other passengers have been abusive to her on a recent flight to Dubai.
As she walked down the plane’s aisle one called her a “fat cow” while another said she belonged in the cargo hold.
She says airlines have a duty of care to provide “safe spaces” for overweight or obese passengers.
Meg argues: “We suffer long term trauma or PTSD from in-flight fat shaming.
Safe spaces for obese passengers
“Imagine being stared at all through flight and having nowhere to run. People should be ashamed.
“I weigh the same as Olympic body builders or weight lifters. They get free upgrades so should I. It’s only fair we get bigger seats and safe spaces.”
On flights Meg says airline staff have treated her in a fat-phobic fashion.
She recalls: “Twice I had to ask for a seat-belt extender to reach around my belly and keep me safe.
Twice I had to ask for a seat-belt extender to reach around my belly and keep me safe
“The first time staff ignored my request. The next time they provided it and I had to figure it out myself.
“I was terrified to ask for one and couldn’t find any information about seat size, tray table reach or plus size assistance and support on the airline’s website.”
Meg insists being plus size does not equal being unhealthy or unfit.
She says: “I work out regularly and I love my body. It’s sexy and I am proud to be plus size.”
‘I refuse to pay for two seats’
Size 26 retail merchandiser Tiffany Wells, 36, from Lambeth, south London, also refuses to buy an extra seat as a point of principle.
She tells The Sun: “I ask for extender belts as soon as I get on.
“I ensure I get a seat without someone sitting next to me. I ask the check-in staff to make that happen and I choose flights less likely to be full.”
Tiffany – who blogs about plus-sized fashion – has flown more than 200 times and says she is fed up with being fat shamed on flights.
“I was told by one passenger I was too fat for one seat and should buy two. I refuse to,” she says.
Why should I have to spend more money due to my size? That’s horrible
“It’s usually the skinny blokes who have BO [body odour], and when women or men get on planes for hen or stag trips, they ruin the flight for everyone.
“Why should I have to spend more money due to my size? That’s horrible.”
She adds: “I was shocked that many airline staff just stand there and let people mock and bully people like me. They don’t get bullied and mocked like I do.”
Travellers are getting bigger
Like Meg, Tiffany believes airlines should do more to accommodate their bigger customers.
She says: “Airlines have been shrinking seats, while the population is actually getting bigger.
“I’ve been literally stuck in the middle seat on a centre aisle and unable to move or get out of my seat during a flight.”
She adds: “It’s discriminatory – I know so many plus size women who are scared to fly because of fat shaming.
“So I’m standing up and demanding change.
What are the rules?
WHILE there are no specific laws about ‘passengers of size’, each airline does have its own guidelines.
Budget airline Ryanair allows passengers to book a second “Extra comfort” seat while booking if needed.
Easyjet asks passengers who cannot fit into one seat to book an extra. Their website reads: “If you are unable to fit into a single seat with the above dimensions for any reason (including medical requirements e.g. a broken leg) you will be required to purchase additional seats at the prevailing rates to accommodate your needs.”
British Airways insist passengers must be able to lower the armrest comfortably. If a passenger can’t do this they are asked to buy an extra seat. The airline was unsuccessfully sued in 2018 by a passenger who said sitting next to a “Jonah Lomu” sized passenger gave him nerve damage.
Virgin Atlantic asks overweight travellers to book an extra seat but will waive passenger fees for the extra seat.
“The population’s getting bigger and airlines should ensure plus size people aren’t targeted and yes, make more seats available for us that are comfortable for the same price.
“If the airline staff have to take me to use the business class bathroom because it’s bigger, then move us to business class if seats are free.”
I became a plus size travel expert after flying left me traumatised
SIZE 26 Kirsty Leanne, 29, from Telford, Shropshire makes a living by flying all over the world and blogging about her experience as a plus size traveller.
She says she’s inundated with messages from fellow larger travellers thanking her for giving them the confidence to get on a plane.
But the feedback isn’t all positive – Kirsty says trolls have accused her of “glamourising” seat belt extenders and accused her of “inconveniencing skinny people”.
She tells The Sun she believes airlines should offer plus size seats at the same price as normal ones, dotted around the cabin.
“More plus size travellers means more people flying, which will boost tourism after the pandemic,” Kirsty says.
“I’ve been left bullied and traumatised after flights and it’s what spurred me on to become an advocate for change.
“I set up the Plus Size Travel Too website in 2018 to show people what it’s like to really fly on different airlines as a plus size person.
“They need proper access to information like toilet size and the reassurance they’ll be respected.
“It’s our fundamental human right – any form of fat shaming is unacceptable. We’re not obese, some people are naturally big and we deserve respect.
“It’s the trolls who should be prevented from travelling, not us.”