Air Traveler Demand More Comfort and Accommodation for Plus-Size Passengers

Social media influ­encer Jae’lynn Chaney recent­ly launched a peti­tion urg­ing the FAA to pro­tect the rights of plus-size air pas­sen­gers. Titled “Demand for the FAA to Pro­tect Plus-Sized Cus­tomers,” the peti­tion calls on the FAA to take action against dis­crim­i­na­tion fac­ing over­weight travelers.

Accord­ing to Chaney, she and her fiancé faced dis­crim­i­na­tion and dis­com­fort on a recent two-hour flight from Pas­co, Wash­ing­ton to Den­ver. She said oth­er pas­sen­gers refused to sit next to them and that they received “hate­ful com­ments” and “accusato­ry glares.”

“As plus-size trav­el­ers, we have unfor­tu­nate­ly expe­ri­enced dis­crim­i­na­tion and dis­com­fort dur­ing air trav­el,” Chaney wrote in the peti­tion. She said this wasn’t the first time, recount­ing anoth­er flight where she was forced to sit in a sin­gle seat with no arm­rests, caus­ing pain and bruis­ing. Even when plus-size pas­sen­gers pur­chase extra seats, they may face unfair treat­ment from oth­er pas­sen­gers and air­line staff.

Chaney is urg­ing the FAA to inter­vene, argu­ing that her in-flight expe­ri­ence caused “pain and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty,” and that air­lines have a respon­si­bil­i­ty to accom­mo­date the needs of plus-size customers.

“The FAA should require all air­lines to imple­ment a clear plus-size pas­sen­ger pol­i­cy that pri­or­i­tizes the com­fort and health of all pas­sen­gers,” Chaney wrote. “This pol­i­cy should include larg­er seats, seat­belt exten­ders, clear guide­lines for accom­mo­dat­ing larg­er pas­sen­gers includ­ing alter­nate seat­ing arrange­ments, and assur­ances of com­fort dur­ing the flight.”

She argues that plus-size pas­sen­gers should have access to extra free seats — two or three depend­ing on their size — to ensure their com­fort. Chaney also wants air­lines to ful­ly refund plus-size pas­sen­gers who pur­chased extra seats on their own, through an “easy” process.

Cur­rent­ly, the FAA does not impose seat size require­ments on air­lines. Gen­er­al seat­ing aver­ages 17 inch­es wide and 30 inch­es of legroom when reclined, accord­ing to Reuters.

In addi­tion to larg­er seats, Chaney’s peti­tion calls for extra air­port and wheel­chair assis­tance for plus-size pas­sen­gers as need­ed, pri­or­i­ty board­ing, prop­er­ly trained staff, larg­er lava­to­ries — at least one being wheel­chair-acces­si­ble — and more. Air­line lava­to­ries cur­rent­ly aver­age about 24 inch­es wide, 10 inch­es nar­row­er than an aver­age bathroom.

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