Sunday, August 16, 2015

Flight Deets & Insecurities

On Friday, with ten days to go, I decided that it would probably be a good time to pick out my flight seats to ensure I wasn't in the middle of a row.  Thankfully, for both of my flights I was able to do so!

 To the left is my outbound flight - I opted for an aisle seat so I could cheat over a bit into the aisle if need be.  There was no middle row for row 31, so I might even be able to cheat over a bit more.

To the right is my inbound flight - again, another aisle seat with no neighbor across the aisle.  If I'm lucky, the middle seat will be left open.

Here's the deal folks - I won't sugarcoat it (although I'll try because I like sugar) - I've got a lot of fat on my body.  This means that plane rides are just as uncomfortable for me as it probably is for the person sitting next to me, if not more so.  I'm SUPER conscious about it, so if it comes down to my comfort level vs the comfort level of the person next to me, I'd rather be the uncomfortable one.

I am that person that will crane my neck in a weird position so you can sleep better.  I'm okay with walking up and down aisles so that way you get some extra time to stretch out without having to worry about bumping into me (unless the aisles are cramped, in which case I usually hang out with the crew by the bathrooms).  I recognize that my body can make people uncomfortable, particularly in small spaces, so I try and be as amicable and empathetic as possible.

I am also definitely not the only obese person who finds that booking a ticket, flying, and even boarding/disembarking planes can be stressful and sometimes embarrassing.  The graph below shows the results from a survey that asked obese fliers on a scale of 1-10 what are the most stressful parts of the flight?  (Take it with a grain of salt though, I couldn't find a control group or a number of participants surveyed.)

Aircraft Interiors International posted this graph in their article "Too Fat to Fly"

That was originally why I wanted to fly first class.  Yes, there were a zillion extra awesome perks, but I was most looking forward to having my own little cubby where I wouldn't disturb other passengers.  The seat portion would still be snug, but it converts into a bed that is 33" wide - which is more than enough for my wide hips.  It would literally be the most comfortable option for me and the other people on the plane.

For comparison, on Virgin Atlantic international flights:
  • Economy seats are 17-18" wide
  • Premium Economy seats are 21" wide
  • Upper Class seats are 22" wide; in bed-form they are 33" wide
I have an overflowing hourglass figure.  My hips, as of about four weeks ago when I started becoming concerned about this problem, were 56" around (so half that and it's 28 inches wide).  I've literally been dieting for a month with the hopes I'd lose an inch or two (which I just checked and I have - I'm down to about 54" now), and then I could wear some Spanx to trim down a few more inches after that.  (PS - I hate wearing Spanx.  I'm dreading the thought of wearing them on an 11-hour flight.  Going to the bathroom will be an absolute nightmare.)

With that being said, at present, my greatest fear is not being able to fit on a flight and then they won't let me stay on the plane.  I don't know if they're even legally allowed to do that, but it's still a fear, irrational or otherwise.

In hindsight, because the premium economy seat was almost twice as expensive as the regular economy seat, maybe next time I should just buy two economy seats.  I'll have 34" between the two so I can cheat as much over into another seat as possible, and I could even just keep a bag in the chair next to me.

Good news is that if I do fit (albeit snugly), there are a number of awesome perks to being in Premium Economy.

Either way, I'm still going to be sticking to my 1 cup of quinoa, spinach/mushroom mix, and 4oz of chicken every other meal to try and squeeze into those seats a bit better.  Wish me luck!


EDIT: I had someone suggest to try sitting in between two objects that were 21" apart, or to measure the armchairs I have at home and use that for comparison.  Yes, my hips are wide, but I'm not two-dimensional so estimating my side-to-side width by halving the total hip measurement isn't going to be accurate.

And THANK YOU person for reminding me of this.  Because:

  • I have an old antique armchair, 19" wide (armrest to armrest), and I fit.

  • The recliners in our front room are 22" wide and I'm super comfortable in those.  

I am MUCH less scared and stressed out now.  And I am doubly excited to have purchased premium economy because now I'm more confident that I'll be probably be comfortable, and my size probably won't affect my seat neighbor as much.

19" is okay (and 21" will be awesome), but I can't imagine being comfortable in economy at 17".  Yikes.  Premium Economy was the way to go.

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