Obese New Flyer With Questions

 
Old Nov 7, 14, 3:19 pm
  #1  
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Obese New Flyer With Questions

First off, let me start off by saying I hope I posted this in the correction section. Nothing worse than being new and starting a thread in the wrong area

I have multiple questions, so my assumption is this is in fact the correct place to go, but if not, I apologize in advanced.

I'll get right to the chase to say the least. I am an obese person who literally has talked their way out of flying my entire life to just not have to deal with issues such as fitting in seats, seatbelts clicking, not spilling over onto someone else, etc.

With that aside, I also have an EXTREME fear of flying. It ranges from everything to do with terrorism, someone just snapping, the plane falling apart in the sky, motors failing and falling to your death, pilot having a heart attack, crashing while landing, etc, etc, etc.

I know everyone says oh, you'll be fine, etc, but the truth is I've never been scared of something so much in my life.

Last year I moved and while it would have only cost about $800 to fly, I chose to take the train, which ran me about $2K, simply due to my fear of being 'too fat to fly' and the crashing.

With that said, I am now in a position where I don't have the money to do a round trip on a train for Christmas ($5K), and I'm stuck with either telling my family I can't come home (which kills me), or sitting on a plane and flying home (also killer to me).

I decided to upgrade to first class just to make the flight easier on other passengers, but am still somewhat worried, though not as nearly bad, as to whether I'll fit in my seat or not.

I'm 6'2, 330lbs, my waist is roughly 52". While I believe the seat will probably be tight, I think it will be much more doable than say a 17" seat with others right next to me.

Being big and fitting into tight places really is nothing new to me, so the inconvenience of that on myself isn't the issue, the issue more so is the seatbelt. I know it's hard to say whether one would or wouldn't, but off the top of the head, should I be okay? Any estimates?

It got so bad I measured the seatbelt in the car, the bottom section that is, and to click it it took 42", I believe American (which is what I'm flying) is 45"? I guess the main thing for me is where the seatbelt is located. If it comes directly off the chair I should be good (my car for instance it has to come up a little from the side to get over the chair/me).

Also. The rest really are just questions being I'm a new flyer.

I'm in first class, I will be leaving LAX, right now I leave from Terminal 4. I'm not sure how plans work, but being I had a sleeper car on the train, we were given access to a waiting room away from the main part of the airport with nicer chairs, free drinks, and things along that line. Is that the case at airports?

On the plane, are meals/drinks all free being it's first class? I plan on drinking a little bit of booze to help keep me mellow. I believe the booze is free as well, but is there a limit on how much you can drink? I'm not going to act like I'm a college party, but if I want a couple things, can I?

Somewhere I read about quicker screening and what not. Are you given that with first class? Or is that only if you buy the $85 thing and go through all those pre background checks months before flying? I forget exactly what it's called.

Otherwise, I plan on sitting in the first row, at the bulkhead (737-800). Being I'm tall, will I have more leg room, or somewhat more, compared to if I were behind another row of first class? I understand the leg room is much better, but the more the better for me.

If you made it this far, I appreciate you reading and taking the time to answer any questions you can to help me understand things better. I might also come up with some other questions if that's okay.

Thank you everyone.
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Old Nov 7, 14, 3:31 pm
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You will fit just fine in a business or first class seat. It is also possible to purchase two economy seats if you don't want to squeeze or inconvenience others, so that is an option for the future.

Southwest lets you buy two seats and refund the cost of the second.

The airlines have seat belt extenders, so no worries even if you need one.

You can get reasonable amounts of alcohol on board, you may or may not have to pay for it. Likely free in first class. Meals depend on flight length - short flights, likely no meal, 3-4 hours or more, you'll likely get some food on first class. You can always bring along a sandwich or something.

There won't be a lounge available to you for domestic first class unless you buy a lounge pass - likely not worth it at $40+; just find a little coffee shop near your gate if there early. Make sure to be at your gate 40 min or so prior to scheduled departure.

Regarding fear of flying, I suggest you go to the airport and get a feeling for the layout, where you will go to drop off bags and check in, and look at the security lines and setup briefly. Plan to arrive at the airport 2 hours before your flight so you aren't rushed and have time for any mix ups.

I think you will enjoy flying once you just get out and do it. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Most people love to give advice - just look at the many threads on this site!

Last edited by Doc Savage; Nov 7, 14 at 3:44 pm
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Old Nov 7, 14, 3:36 pm
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Well, that definitely makes me feel somewhat better. I knew about the economy seats, but just thought I'd rather take the comfort the first time, to help me be as comfortable as I can.

I don't have an issue with airports, as I have family and friends who fly all the time, so I understand that aspect as far as they work, it's really just the flying part that terrifies me.

The only thing I've been focusing on is hearing the motors when taking off, being I've loved turbo cars my whole life. It's just the knowing you're so high up. Which you think wouldn't bother me since I like to hike a lot and have been in areas close to 10,000ft.
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Old Nov 7, 14, 3:55 pm
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You might bring a iPad or something along so you can be watching a movie or otherwise deeply engrossed during takeoff. You could try to have the window shade closed as well.

There might be classes or other avenues to help familiarize you with flying or being inside a plane, being that you live near a big city like LA, and that might lessen your worries. Basically, though, I think you'll be fine, a little nervous at first but then it will seem ok, and then maybe even kind of fun.

Have a great trip!
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Old Nov 7, 14, 4:05 pm
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You might find there is a little less legroom in the bulkhead versus a row back - your feet can always go under the seat in front of you. As for the seatbelt they vary - they have to be inspected and sometimes they end up shortening them - so no way to judge the length. but no worries - just ask for an extension - the FA will give you an extension belt which will snap in and make it much longer. First class belts are often shorter than the coach ones I have found.
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Old Nov 7, 14, 7:17 pm
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Really? That's interesting about the belts. Never knew some were longer/shorter/ I figured they all were the same no matter where you sit.

I've thought about that with the bulkhead, as well as the fact I can't put anything on the floor during takeoff/landing.

Good to know.

Thanks
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Old Nov 7, 14, 9:04 pm
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Welcome to Flyer Talk, High Sierra! While I am not a particularly large person, I am not partial to the bulkhead arm rests, which generally do not move at all. They make me feel cramped in my seat for some reason. You may already be aware that usually bulkhead or exit aisle seats in coach are often reserved for the airline frequent flyers, or have a premium cost associated with them. If you do decide to fly coach, look at something like seatguru.com and review the plane/seat configurations.

Also, if you are antsy about the plane noises, sitting in the front of the cabin would be preferable, as well as having some headset/Ipod with music or something available to listen to as you take off.

Hope you have a great trip!
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Old Nov 7, 14, 9:39 pm
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Yeah I'm definitely going to have an iPod filled with some feel good music haha. I think I'll take your advice and sit in another row for more comfort/leg room.

I was wondering if there's anyway to tell the kind of seats you'll be on. It seems that if I google American Airlines 737-800 on google, I get all types of random pictures.

Can anyone confirm which are the seats I'll be in. It appears that cloth with a leader headrest area, and an all leather seat are the two that show up the most. Are either one of them these?

My exact plane, according to seat guru is a Boeing 737-800 (738).





Also, is there anything like special screening areas for the "premium" class and a separate lounge area? Not that I think I'm better than anyone, but figure if I have access to those, might as well take advantage of it.

Last edited by aBroadAbroad; Nov 21, 14 at 6:25 pm Reason: Merge multiple consecutive posts
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Old Nov 7, 14, 11:35 pm
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Originally Posted by HighSierra View Post
Also, is there anything like special screening areas for the "premium" class and a separate lounge area? Not that I think I'm better than anyone, but figure if I have access to those, might as well take advantage of it.
Depending on the airport you're in, you may have a special line to go through as a First Class passenger, but in spite of getting into a shorter line, you'll still need to take your belt and shoes off.

There is an expedited special line called "Pre Check" that allows you to keep shoes and belt on, but you would need to make an application for that. See here for details: http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck

As for noises, I understand the feeling of all those strange mechanical noises on an airplane making one nervous. The more you fly the more you can identify those noises as "normal" activities like engine start, flaps being extended, etc.
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Old Nov 8, 14, 12:38 am
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Maybe this will help you out

http://www.fearofflyinghelp.com/
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Old Nov 8, 14, 1:42 am
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My travel partner is a person of size, and I strongly recommend a first class seat. (I'm short and feel cramped in coach, so I can't imagine how it feels for a larger person). Personally, I think that bulkhead rows are easier to get in and out of during flight. Even in first class it can be hard to get up when the person in front has reclined.

FA's are usually very tactful about bringing the seat belt extender. We just ask for it when they offer to hang coats or bring a beverage.

I find that it's most helpful to be well-organized before getting to the security checkpoint. Have your pockets empty, pack your liquids in your checked bag, wear slip-on shoes, etc.

Good luck!
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Old Nov 8, 14, 9:33 am
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HighSierra, welcome to FT. Hopefully you'll stick around and let us know how things go for you. If you do a bit of digging around here, you'll find plenty of thread devoted to issue of flying as, or with a stranger who is, a large/overweight/obese/various other words person. Some of these unfortunately get quite nasty. Ignore those.

You've had some good advice here. Seat belts have extenders (just ask), first class seats are certainly more comfortable, with greater width and pitch, alcohol is going to be free on AA, and you will have access to various priority lines (not that these are always faster). You won't have access to a lounge on the basis of a first class ticket alone.

As far as fear of flying goes, you may wish to take a course offered by several of the major airlines. These are multi-session classes, ending with a 'test' flight. I know it sounds silly, but the wife of a friend, who was paranoid about flying, swears it was the best thing she ever did. I flew with her once, from London to New York, to meet up with her husband, and it was insane. She started sweating and shaking as we went into the airport, her legs went limp as we walked to the gate, she had to go to the toilet even before we got on the plane. Her doctor had given her some type of drugs which sort of worked, but on board she just sweated more and her face was white. She gripped the armrests and my hands so hard that I had marks there for over a week. She just kept saying 'I'm so f***ing scared of this'. Every little bump sent her into shrieks. It was an awful flight and I was glad went I deposited her with her husband. A few months later she took this course, and it really did the trick, convincing her that her fears really were unfounded, and that flying can be fun. She now travels regularly and it's no big deal.
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Old Nov 8, 14, 11:21 am
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Originally Posted by AAL View Post
My travel partner is a person of size, and I strongly recommend a first class seat. (I'm short and feel cramped in coach, so I can't imagine how it feels for a larger person). Personally, I think that bulkhead rows are easier to get in and out of during flight. Even in first class it can be hard to get up when the person in front has reclined.

FA's are usually very tactful about bringing the seat belt extender. We just ask for it when they offer to hang coats or bring a beverage.

I find that it's most helpful to be well-organized before getting to the security checkpoint. Have your pockets empty, pack your liquids in your checked bag, wear slip-on shoes, etc.

Good luck!
Yeah I've read about asking before getting to your seat, which is my plan. I'm always good about being prepared and ready so that shouldn't be much of an issue. Guess just feeling embarrassed asking for an extender is the biggest thing.

Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
HighSierra, welcome to FT. Hopefully you'll stick around and let us know how things go for you. If you do a bit of digging around here, you'll find plenty of thread devoted to issue of flying as, or with a stranger who is, a large/overweight/obese/various other words person. Some of these unfortunately get quite nasty. Ignore those.

You've had some good advice here. Seat belts have extenders (just ask), first class seats are certainly more comfortable, with greater width and pitch, alcohol is going to be free on AA, and you will have access to various priority lines (not that these are always faster). You won't have access to a lounge on the basis of a first class ticket alone.

As far as fear of flying goes, you may wish to take a course offered by several of the major airlines. These are multi-session classes, ending with a 'test' flight. I know it sounds silly, but the wife of a friend, who was paranoid about flying, swears it was the best thing she ever did. I flew with her once, from London to New York, to meet up with her husband, and it was insane. She started sweating and shaking as we went into the airport, her legs went limp as we walked to the gate, she had to go to the toilet even before we got on the plane. Her doctor had given her some type of drugs which sort of worked, but on board she just sweated more and her face was white. She gripped the armrests and my hands so hard that I had marks there for over a week. She just kept saying 'I'm so f***ing scared of this'. Every little bump sent her into shrieks. It was an awful flight and I was glad went I deposited her with her husband. A few months later she took this course, and it really did the trick, convincing her that her fears really were unfounded, and that flying can be fun. She now travels regularly and it's no big deal.
I definitely will stick around unless for some reason I end up dying from a panic attack lol, well, probably not so funny, but you know what I mean.

Okay, the lounge isn't important, but the fast I can get through with less thinking, the better, at least in my opinion.

Originally Posted by fritzzz25 View Post
Maybe this will help you out

http://www.fearofflyinghelp.com/
Thanks I'll take a look right now.

Does anyone have an idea how long the extenders are? I know I read that American Airlines seatbelt are 45", but the extender is "unknown." Does anyone know off the top of their head by chance?

Last edited by aBroadAbroad; Nov 21, 14 at 6:19 pm Reason: Merge several consecutive posts - please use multiquote button
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Old Nov 8, 14, 6:49 pm
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I think they are 24", but not exactly sure. They are pretty long.
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Old Nov 8, 14, 6:55 pm
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Somewhere I read about quicker screening and what not. Are you given that with first class? Or is that only if you buy the $85 thing and go through all those pre background checks months before flying? I forget exactly what it's called.
I recently applied for the Pre-check and had the number in less than 2 weeks. I was able to get an appointment at a facility close by within 2 days. It's also called a Known Traveler Number. Here is the website where you can find a facility close to you and set up the appointment online. It went very smoothly.....I was pleasantly surprised. The $85 is for 5 years.....well worth the money and I only fly 2-3 times/year.

https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/servicecode/11115V

I wish you well on your trip. I struggled with claustrophobia and know what it's like to consider not going home for Christmas. With the Lord's help I eventually overcame it.

And truly, as much as we complain about air travel it is the quickest way to get places......believe me I checked all the other ways too.......just not practical in the time allowed for a break from work.
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