If Airplane Seat Belts Don’t Fit You, Here’s How To Get An Extender

by | Apr 13, 2022 | Travel

For many people, air travel often involves a seat belt that doesn’t fit. Some travelers find they need to get a seat belt extender: a piece that goes between the belt and the buckle to help the two connect. TikTokers such as Remi Bader, Nikki Garza and Adelia Lauren have shared their experiences with these items, and the term “seat belt extender on airplane” has millions of views on the platform.While some flyers have had good experiences and know there’s nothing wrong with needing an extender, others have understandably felt angry at how ridiculously size-exclusive the standard seat belt length is. Let’s be real: Seat belt extenders shouldn’t have to exist, especially since so many of us need them. As a required safety measure, the regular belts should be long enough to fit everyone.AdvertisementBut in case you find yourself needing a seat belt extender, here’s some information to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible.How and when to request a seat belt extenderAccording to 2020 data published by TripSavvy, an expert-based travel site, each airline has different lengths of seat belts and extenders. The exact length of seat belts varies by airline and by reports, ranging anywhere from 31 inches to around 51 inches. Calling the airline is likely your best bet for getting an exact answer. This can feel like a difficult task ― especially the first time (more on how to navigate that in a second). Some airlines may make you reserve an extender in advance, so it’s best to check options before your flight.AdvertisementIf you don’t have to reserve ahead, asking early is best. That’s according to Pam Luk, the founder of Ember & Ace, a plus-size athletic wear brand. “I like to ask for the extender as soon as I board while everyone is still stowing their carry-on and getting settled,” said Luk, who’s had to use an extender since her early 40s. “That way, I don’t feel like all eyes and ears are on me and my request.”Wendy Dragon, a fat, Health at Every Size-aligned clinical psychologist engaged in research and activism about individuals in larger bodies, recommended not giving into avoidance (waiting to ask, getting a friend to ask, that kind of thing). She suggested asking directly. “Just ask for the extender, and don’t feel the need to explain why it is needed,” she said.If it makes you more comfortable, you can also buy seat belt extenders. However, using the ones provided is probably the way to go, since some airlines may not allow you to bring your own. It’s important to check compliance rules before purchasing or packing anything.If you feel uncomfortable or triggered for even having to ask, that’s validAdvertisementWe live in a fatphobic culture where people discriminate and hold prejudice against people in larger bodies. “So much in this culture is tied up with body size,” Dragon said, noting how we’re perceived by romantic partners, medical providers, family and even employers.If thinking about all of this is stressful, that’s understandable. “It may look like an innocuous piece of metal and webbing to some, but asking for it can trigger feelings experienced during past trauma and bullying around weight,” Dragon said.“For a …

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