Plus-Sized Influencer Demands Free Extra Seats From Airlines

A petition from plus-sized activist and influencer Jaelynn Chaney demanding that the FAA require airlines to offer multiple seats for free to passengers who don’t fit into a standard seat is gaining thousands of signatures.

She reports that on a United Express regional jet flight from Pasco, Washington to Denver she was “subjected to hateful comments” which is sad, and she had just a single seat with immovable armrests on another flight which was very uncomfortable. And so she wants FAA action.

  • Free extra seats. And anyone plus-sized who buys more than one seat should be refunded for it, with a simple online procedure.

    All plus-size passengers should be provided with an extra free seat, or even two or three seats depending on their size, to accommodate their needs and ensure their comfort during the flight.

  • Additional assistance and priority boarding. As well as “larger bathrooms, seat belt extenders, and alternative seating arrangements.” Generally widebody aircraft have a larger bathroom, while narrowbodies do not which is also a problem for some wheelchair-dependent passengers.

  • Government-mandated customer service training “on how to accommodate plus-size travelers, including handling sensitive situations and providing appropriate customer service.”

I don’t think anyone is going to argue that airlines should emphasize customer service and not just movement from one point to another. Asking for a customer service mandate from the government, handly known for customer service, may not deliver results.

Beyond that there are two key points, I think. Airlines let you purchase an additional seat if you wish already. And this petition is for larger passengers to be given extra seats for free.

  • That means, by the way, that on a full flight someone else wouldn’t be able to travel because they’re taking up more than one seat.

  • And the airline would be required to offer this at a loss, giving up the revenue for that seat. This isn’t free, it’s costly. That’s easy to dismiss in the abstract (these are ‘billion dollar companies’ and it’s ‘just one passenger’) but doing this for every large passenger, in a country of larger passengers adds up – and the money comes out of the pockets of shareholders which really means all of us. Public companies are owned by mutual funds and retirement funds, like the retirement accounts of teachers and firefighters. That’s who you’re asking to pay for this.

Southwest Airlines has a generous policy where if a passenger of size purchases a second seat (as required, so they don’t take up the space and intrude on the rights of another passenger) and the flight winds up less than 100% full, the airline will refund that seat.

That still comes at a cost to the airline. The larger passenger may have taken up discounted inventory with that second seat, causing the airline to price remaining seats higher. They may still have lost a sale – indeed, the flight might not be full because that passenger purchased a second seat and the airline is giving back the revenue from that purchase. Speculative, but plausible enough that on an expected value basis this isn’t free to do but a kindness offered by the airline. Should even that be required though?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. How she looks in the mirror and address the real problem. Lose weight, eat healthy and go to the gym . Smh at these people

  2. Sadly you should fact check your article, Southwest refunds the seat period! No question asked, just make the request after the flight, regardless of how full it left. It is clearly written in their contract of carriage if you had bothered to read it.

  3. This lady is insanely entitled. Airlines aren’t currently mandated to do anything for passengers that have any “issues” that they were born with or have through no fault of their own. IE: Tall or Short people, disabled Veterans, or many other facets of humanity. So she has some nerve to be DEMANDING all of this for something that SHE CAUSED AND CONTINUES TO CAUSE HERSELF. PERIOD.

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