Flying While Plus Sized

Posted by Jen Anderson on

Flying While Plus Sized - Fashion Blog

You don't need me to tell you that modern air travel is the pits. And fat people (especially women) are treated like we're part of the problem and not suffering along with everyone else. No one complains that the person sitting behind them is too tall. If a man's shoulders spill over into the seat next to his, that's his seatmate's problem. But if your hips or thighs touch the person next to you, your very existence is an outrage. Until the person next to you dozes off and uses you as a body pillow (true story). 

I spend my life reminding myself and others that I have every right to take up as much space as my body needs. I boldly call myself fat because all that word means is that I have a greater than average amount of body fat. But shove me into a cramped airplane and I know I'll be surrounded by people who think that word means stupid, lazy, greedy and a whole bunch of other nonsense. They'll be angry that there isn't enough room to go around and they might blame it on me.

There are a few things we can all do to keep the not-so-friendly skies as pleasant as possible.

Plan Ahead

I always check online to find out which airline offers the widest seats for the route I'm taking. An inch or two can make all the difference. Window seats tend to have a little extra room between the arm rest and the window, so they're a good choice if you can maneuver yourself into place. 

You know those rows in coach that offer extra legroom in exchange for a fee? They tend not to fill up, leaving empty seats between passengers. Which means you can raise the arm rest and have all the room you need.

If you're a frequent flier, use your miles to upgrade to first class. It's not as easy as it used to be, but it can be done. Airlines are also selling first class seats at a discount, so they're more affordable than ever.

I'm not shy about asking for a seatbelt extender when I need one - it's not my fault the seatbelts aren't made long enough to fit around the largest person who can fit in the seat. Don't be shy about asking - during boarding everyone is too busy looking for space in the overhead compartments to pay attention to you.

woman wearing a navy tunic

Dress the Part

If you want the other passengers to treat you with respect and consideration, leave the sweatpants at home. Dress like you're going straight to an important business meeting as soon as you land. People will to treat you a little better simply because you're dressed nicely. No need to sacrifice comfort. Our pull on-pants in black or navy are perfect for travel. Add a matching cardigan or kimono jacket and you're good to go. 

This is one of those times where navy blue is undoubtedly a better choice than black. Since navy is used in military uniforms, wearing navy gives you an air of authority and respectability. (Or maybe it's the other way around and navy's confident vibe is why it's used in uniforms.) 

Hang in There

Getting there is no longer half the fun, but it doesn't have to be torture. Be prepared and then settle into your too-small seat and keep your nose buried in your favorite book for the duration. 

Check out our other posts about plus size travel.


Yes!!! I agree with everything you have said here…and I’ve also experienced that attitude shown towards plus-size women…and it’s really annoying. On top of that, I am 74 and have proudly let my silver gray hair shine…so combine the attitude towards “old ladies” and “fat women” and it really gets annoying! :)

I especially applaud you for emphasizing that dressing in a flattering manner while traveling can impact people’s attitude toward you. And I ****love**** your tip about wearing navy blue!

I have always dressed casually when traveling, but in an attractive, flattering way…not sweats and a t-shirt. I find that one aspect of flattering casual wear is that your travel clothes don’t show wrinkles after sitting in a plane for hours… and I also find that wearing layers enhances your look, especially on long trips.

Unfortunately, I don’t travel as much any more due to mobility issues, but I still make the effort to look good when I do go out and that has made a difference in how people perceive me, even when using a walker or wheelchair!

Thanks so much for the validation that I’m being good to myself!


Right on the mark, dressing professionally does give you an edge and I always have Vicki Vi classics for these trips. I always keep a backup set of classics ready for replacements as needed. Mixing and matching the colors and textures makes for a quick pack on last minute travwl


You hit the nail on the head. Didn’t know you could get extenders on line. Please let me know where. Great advice on all. My white hair doesn’t hurt any as well. Dressing nicer does make a difference!


I completely agree with everything you said. I would add a couple of comments. One I think the window seat is a good choice. Often the airline will call for those who want a little extra time to board early, I often limp a little and get on early. Get in my window seat, get my seat belt on and stay put. I am not one that gets up and down on a flight. Unless it is a very long flight ( Like over night) I go to the bathroom before I fly and try not to get up again.

Dress the part is also very important. Look professional and you will be respected. Vicki Vi is great! And don’t carry your entire life in overstuffed bags. Check in your luggage. that is my advice.


I travel nearly every week and that includes several times to Europe and Asia each year. You are so right about the way you dress.The better you look, the more respect you get. I love Vikki Vi for travel. My clothes always look good, polished and not wrinkled. Accessorizing, especially on the plain color-block items makes me look ready for executive business.

—Rosemary ,

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