This Viral Thread Breaks Down What it's Like to Fly 'as a Fat Person'

July 18th 2017

Almie Rose

In late June, a woman posted about the fat-shaming she endured while traveling on an airplane. According to her Instagram posts, she was needlessly mocked by the man sitting next to her simply for taking her seat. 

Now, a viral Twitter thread posted yesterday by a different woman who goes by "Your Fat Friend" is shedding even more light on what it's like to fly as a plus-size person.

She explains before she can even purchase a ticket—and she is required to purchase more than one—she has research to do:

Southwest Airlines is one airline that has a literal "Customer of Size" policy. Their website reads, "Customers who encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s) may proactively purchase the needed number of seats prior to travel in order to ensure the additional seat(s) is available."

Southwest's "guidelines" recommend "customers of size" purchase an additional seat, while most other airlines require it.

However, she's not even guaranteed her second seat that she purchased:

Then, there's "seat belt extenders" to deal with.

"Seat belt extenders" are used to offer larger passengers more room. 

That's because in 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) declared seat belt extenders brought by passengers "should not be permitted for use." This means passengers are now forced to ask for them directly from the airline. As Your Fat Friend explains:

But her body shouldn't be up for discussion; she isn't public property. Yet, as she points out, this still happens:

She even does what she can to be less of an inconvenience to other people:

But even in first class, she still isn't comfortable:

"No one likes flying," she tweets. "It's not comfortable for anyone. But for some of us, it's a major physical, financial & emotional risk."

Such as the time when she had to sit in the middle seat due to an oversold flight. A man sitting next to her made a scene by getting up and demanding to speak to the flight attendant:

That a stranger would feel it's appropriate to let a woman know he felt she was too fat to sit next to is inexcusable. But My Fat Friend isn't even some sort of anomaly when it comes to her body.  

According to 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control, 37.9 percent of adults are obese and 70.7 percent of adults are overweight and obese. Yet airline seats seemingly haven't caught up.

The average airline seat is between 17″ and 18″, according to website Plus Size Solutions.

The website explains, "there are two measurements you’ll want to consider when thinking about airline seats for plus-size travel: seat width and seat pitch. The seat width is, unsurprisingly, how wide the seat is. Generally, commercial airline seats are somewhere between 17″ and 19″ – the majority are between 17″ and 18″."

airplane seats

However, the average American man has a waist size of 40.0 inches, according to the CDC, which in pant size is "size 38, 39 or 40, depending on the cut," according to NPR. The average woman has a waist size of 38.1 inches.

As Your Fat Friend tweets, she used to avoid flying altogether. But not anymore.

She's gotten a lot of response to her tweets, some of them kind, some of them rude, and some of them very telling.

And when @RafzLDN tweeted "Ngl I wouldn't want to be sat on a small plane, already feeling claustrophobic with a random person strapped right next to me," her response is hard to argue with: "This is literally what flying is. For everyone."

You can follow the rest of Your Fat Friend's tweets here.