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Nancy Parode

Just How Long Are Those Airplane Seat Belts?

By April 12, 2010

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Last year several airlines revised their policies concerning "passengers of size" or "passengers requiring extra space" - namely, those of us who do not fit comfortably into a 17-inch wide airplane seat. For many airlines, the ability to fasten a seat belt properly is critical. Some airlines allow passengers to use a seat belt extender as well as the seat belt itself.

But just how long is your airplane's seat belt? How will you know if you need an extender?

You can, of course, look on your airline's website, but you will probably not be able to find the information you need. You can also email your airline. To find out more about how this process works, I contacted the largest airlines in North America (national airlines and some regional airlines) and asked them how long their seat belts and extenders are. I have compiled the answers I received, and I'll continue to update this information as it trickles in.

Your airline is always the best resource, of course, but you may find our airplane seat belt length information helpful.

Photo © A. Carlos Herrera

April 20, 2010 at 12:11 am
(1) Sunny says:

I usually require one seat belt extender when I fly. I noticed that many flight attendants didn’t seem to like it if I asked for one, so I looked into purchasing one. I found that they are readily available on eBay for about $20. They will work on most domestic airlines, except for Southwest. (Considering their attitude towards large people, I’m not surprised that they use seatbelts that are not a uniform type. That way, you MUST ask for one, which will draw a flight attendant’s attention to your situation, so they can judge your size & possibly tell you that you must buy a second seat.)

Anyway, I have brought my extender with me on many flights. Flight attendants have never questioned me about it; in fact, I doubt they even noticed that I have it. As long as I’m buckled in & the armrest is down, that’s all that matters.

What surprised me about your article was Delta & their policy. FAA regulations say that passengers can’t bring their own extenders? Then why are they the only airline with this rule. I also noticed on your chart that they have the second shortesr seatbelts in the business, and by far the shortest extenders, at only 12″. I imagine there are many people who can still not buckle the belt, even with the extender. Bingo! You just bought a second seat. This angers me, especially since I have miles in my account which were actually earned on Northwest, but were rolled over into Delta SkyMiles when the two airlines merged. I don’t know if I want to fly on Delta, if they are insensitive like that. I already will not fly on Southwest because of their discriminatory policies towards large-sized people.

Before the hate mail starts saying “Why don’t you just lose weight”…I have already had gastric bypass surgery. I lost a lot of weight, but the remaining weight has shifted to where it is mostly below the waist. I can’t change my body shape; it is what it is. It would be nice if airlines actualy provided wide enough seats for people of all shapes to be comfortable. JetBlue is one of the best in this regard. Thanks for the great information!

June 16, 2012 at 2:34 am
(2) cb says:

I just flew on Southwest and on the flight to Florida the seat belt fit fine but on the plane home the belt was too short, I am not huge but was embarrassed and did not tell the crew, I just flew with no belt on. It’s sad companies are so ignorant and cold hearted and don’t care about passangers safety.

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