Let’s face it; if you are overweight you have to have a sense of humor. Everyday can present a challenge in one way or another and if you cannot smile or laugh it away you will go crazy. One real challenge for overweight individuals is flying. We have all seen reports from airlines about restrictions for overweight passengers. Some airlines are charging people for two seats and even denying them from flying.
By: J.A. Laraque
For me personally I feared to fly once I got over the 350lb mark. I was scared I would not fit in the seat. I was scared I would be kicked off the plane, but most of all I feared being embarrassed in front of everyone.
When I began losing weight I believed all that fear was behind me, but when I flew to California I discovered I still had more weight to lose before it would be a good fit (pun intended) for me. While I did fit fine in the seat I still needed a seatbelt extended. The flight attendant was very nice and discrete about it which made the experience painless.
Since then I have flown a number of times and I still use an extender mainly because it is much more comfortable. With that I have come up with a few ways to ask for a seatbelt extender.
The Call-ahead reservation
You ever wonder how people get a kosher meal on an airplane, they call ahead. If you call the customer service for your airline you can request ahead of time for them to leave the extender in your seat. Now lately I have been told some airlines no longer do this, but many still do so you will need to call in and ask. This makes it the easiest because you do not have to say anything or draw attention to yourself.
The Walk by Wink and Point
This doesn’t always work, but if you have ever had someone give you the eye or stare a bit too long at you just because you are overweight you will understand. I used this to my advantage on airlines. When boarding the plane I would give the greeting flight attendant a wink and point to my stomach. Most of the time they knew exactly what I meant and they would bring an extender to my seat shortly afterwards.
WARNING: For the men out there this can be kind of dangerous because if the flight attendant is female and you wink a little too hard and point a little too low you could find yourself thrown off the plane charged with sexual harassment charges.
The Whisper Request
This works when heading toward your seat or if you have already sat down. You can whisper to the flight attendant, extender please, and that should be enough to get you one. However, this can also go wrong and the attendant can either not hear you correctly or repeat loudly what you just said. There is also a slight chance he or she might be mad you whispered in his or her ear so be careful people.
The Charade or Wrestling Belt motion
So you sat down and thought the belt would fit, but it didn’t or it’s so tight you feel your lunch contents being pushed back out. In this case you can use the whisper request, just ask normally or try this trick.
Ever watch the WWE or any other wrestling programs? When they want the title belt they will make a hand gesture of a belt near their waste. I have found this works well to signal to the flight attendant that you need an extender. Again, this doesn’t always work, but it is less likely to be mistaken for something else, unless there are wrestlers on the plane.
The captured animal
This is the least used technique I would suggest because it relies way to heavily on the flight attendants sense of compassion. I am not saying they are not smart, helpful, attentive and friendly, but we are all human beings and we all know that everyone can have a bad day at work and miss something.
Pretty much this works the same way as seeing a deer caught in a bear trap would work. You force the belt closed and squirm in pain until the flight attended sees you struggling and brings you an extender.
I personally would not recommend this, but I mention it because it happened to me once. The flight attendant saw how uncomfortable I was and brought me an extender without me asking for it. Obviously this will not always happen. Many times they are busy and will not notice or they don’t want to assume you need one out of fear of embarrassing you. So just keep this one in mind, but don’t really try it unless you are going for a laugh.
Just keep smiling
I wrote this because all these things I have done, but really if you ask for an extender 99% of the time the flight attendant will quietly bring one to you. I have even had some hide it in a pillow or blanket so nobody will see. Most people understand it is not easy to fly even when smaller in size and the flight attendants are sensitive to this. So keep a smile on your face, be polite and keep saying to yourself, it will all soon be over.