Jae-lynn Chaney, an influential advocate for plus-size individuals, has strongly criticized airline seat policies, deeming them “discriminatory” and arguing that larger flyers are required to pay “twice for the same experience.”
Chaney, who made headlines in April with her Change.org petition titled “Demand for the FAA to Protect Plus-Sized Customers,” stands firm in her belief that she faces discrimination while flying due to her size.
“People with smaller bodies get to pay one fare to get to their destination,” Chaney emphasized, acknowledging that she must purchase an extra seat when flying. “We have to pay two fares, even though we’re getting the same experience. If anything, our experiences are a little bit more challenging.”
While Chaney remains resolute in her demands, she admitted in April that meeting the demands outlined in her petition would likely result in increased ticket prices for all passengers due to heightened demand. Following the petition’s widespread attention, she stated to Fox News, “It is difficult to provide a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of who will pay for the policies mentioned in the petition. However, what is clear is that the mistreatment and discrimination of plus-size travelers is unacceptable and must be addressed.”
Chaney further added, “Implementing policies to accommodate plus-size passengers may come with associated costs, but these costs must be weighed against the benefits of creating a more welcoming and inclusive travel experience.”
In her petition, Chaney called upon the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to mandate that all airlines establish a comprehensive customer-of-size policy that prioritizes the comfort and well-being of all passengers. Alongside other plus-size travelers and travel experts, she is urging US airlines to standardize their policies.
Gabor Lukacs, a Canadian advocate for air passenger rights, views the practice of charging larger passengers for two seats as a human rights issue. Lukacs explained to CNN, “Being a large-size person is not a choice, as many people mistakenly believe. There is, unfortunately, a lot of negative attention and prejudice against plus-size people.” He emphasized that charging double fares to larger passengers is unjustifiable through the lens of human rights, noting that airlines do not provide discounts to smaller passengers or children.
Apart from the financial burden of purchasing two seats, Chaney encounters numerous other challenges as a plus-size traveler, particularly when confronted by hostile passengers or flight attendants. She expressed her dismay at the stereotypes surrounding plus-size travelers and the hostility they face during air travel, both in person and online. Similarly, Kristy Leanne, another plus-size travel expert and content creator, has also received negative comments for sharing her experiences, even though her intention was to educate and inform other plus-size individuals about what to expect while flying.
One major concern shared by many plus-size travelers is the shrinking size of airplane seats. Over the past two decades, the average width of seats has reduced from 18.5 inches to 17 inches, despite 38% of the global population being overweight or obese, according to the World Obesity Federation. Lukacs stressed that smaller seat sizes should be a concern for all travelers, as it not only impacts comfort but also poses potential health risks such as deep vein thrombosis. He added, “And also, we’re not cattle.”