April 6, 2022

Mark Jacoby’s Guide to Plus-Size Travel

As a plus-size person with a passion for world travel, I know firsthand that flying can be a pain in the ass. Seriously. It’s the experience we’re after. The thrill of adventure. Why not make it comfortable? Traveling the world as a bigger person taught me a thing or two about doing it right. So without further ado, here’s “Mark Jacoby’s guide to plus-size travel.” My hope is it will help you get where you’re going without the stress that some plus-size people experience.

Plan Ahead

Think about your layover. Ever have a connecting flight that feels like it’s on the opposite end of the airport? Yeah, never fun.

There is a way to make that connecting flight without all the stress of getting there. Start with the ticket counter person. They might not know the distance from the arrival gate to your departure gate, but you can arrange to have an electric cart waiting for you. No need to try to rush through crowds of people. Let your airport cart driver handle it.

Want to top off the experience? Get to the airport a little extra early to speak with the ticket counter. A lot of times you can avoid long lines and it makes the overall experience less rushed.

Use a Seat Belt Extender

Let’s be honest, airline seats weren’t designed for plus-size travel. Neither were the seat belts. If it’s your first time flying and you’ve never sat in an airplane seat, be prepared for a tight fit. No need to sweat it, ask the flight attendant for a seat belt extender.

If discretion is the name of the game, board early. After you line up that sweet electric cart for your layover, ask to board early. This buys you time to screw around with your seat belt without some passenger waiting for you to finish.

Say you’re a super prepared person or just don’t like people. Show up with your own extender. You can buy a seat belt extender (a.k.a. airline belt extender). They run about twenty bucks, most are universal and they usually tell you which airline it doesn’t work on.

Sit in the Bulkhead

You know those seats directly behind first class? The ones in the front part of the plane. That’s the bulkhead. Everybody always thinks the emergency row is the only one with legroom in coach. Nope. The bulkhead has a bit more room because of the wall separating it from first class. Not only do you get those few extra inches of pure bliss, but you also get a couple of other perks. You’re closer to the bathroom or an overhead bag for easy access. Departure is cake at the front of the plane too. Plus, the person in front of you can’t lean his seat back in your lap the whole way.

Use Good Manners

Being plus-size might create a bit less room for the guy next to you. Some people are assholes, some aren’t. No two people are exactly the same. Don’t be anxious about sitting next to someone. Try using a little old-fashioned good manners.

Plus-size travel has a negative stigma among some people. Humanize the experience. Introduce yourself. Let them know you’d be happy to move if they need something. Unless your passenger is a complete jerk, most people can’t get angry at a genuinely nice person. Give it a shot. You might be surprised.

Explore Paid Options

If you want a really stress-free experience, you’ll have to pay. Stack up some extra miles and book an additional seat. Sometimes airlines call it a comfort seat. It’ll give you and the guy next to you a bit more real estate. A little word to the wise, at some airlines, if you purchase a comfort seat and tell them you’re a “passenger of size”, you could get a refund for the comfort seat (only if all of your flights departed with an unsold seat). Talk with the airline about it ahead of time.

The other route would be to go all out and get a first-class ticket. For starters, the seats are way more comfortable than coach. And the free drinks? Come on, who doesn’t like free drinks? Not to mention, the in-flight service. It’s closer to the bathrooms. You get it.

Traveling is special. Through traveling you find yourself. Traveling helps you figure out your problems. Through traveling you learn to love yourself. Never let an obstacle steer you away from a dream. If you’re plus-size and worried about traveling, don’t. Follow this guide and you just might have your smoothest trip yet.

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Big Guy Big World is a travel blog, following Mark Jacoby’s journey as a big guy on a bigger journey, exploring the world during a global pandemic. Follow along as we experience some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic places.

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