Size 16 woman slams airline for ‘frustrating’ seatbelts that barely fitted her

A holidaymaker has slammed airline Ryanair after claiming her seatbelt was "too short" on a recent journey. She says that the standard sized seat belt is "fat phobic".

All passengers are required to wear their seatbelt fastened when the plane is taking off, landing or when the seatbelt sign is on for safety reasons. However, while many customers can adjust the seatbelt to fit them if the belt is too small it can be uncomfortable or even pinch.

The solution to this is to ask a flight attendant for a seatbelt extender. All airlines offer the piece of kit which attaches to the standard seatbelt and makes it larger – though plus sized travellers have said in the past that they find asking for one embarrassing.

READ MORE: 'I'm a travel expert – airlines penalise plus size passengers for one reason'

Holidaymaker Katie Higgins, 33, from Ayr, however claims her experience on-board a Ryanair flight left her feeling unhappy. She was flying from Glasgow to Cork to see family, but says the maximum length of the belt was still too tight.

At a size 16 – which is the UK average dress size – Katie says there was barely any room when the seatbelt was clasped shut and that she felt “lassoed” into place. She noted that if there was any less room in the band she would have needed an extender.

The beautician and blogger posted on Facebook about her experience noting that she wasn’t "delusional" about her size and knows she is a "bigger woman" but that she matches the nation’s average figure.

Katie said: "I flew on Friday, and I was lassoed by the seat belt. It just fitted, but if it had been digging into me anymore, I would have been very uncomfortable.

"But if someone else was a different shape or a different size, they might not be able to tie it. With other airlines, you can usually pull the length of the belt a little and try to adjust it, but there was none of that.

"It was across me, and there was about an inch [of room] at the bottom and nothing else. If it was any tighter, I would have been very uncomfortable on the flight. There was no give. I'm not delusional, I know I'm a bigger woman. But there has to be some bit of give, especially since I lost two stone in weight.

"Because it just fit, I didn't say anything. I didn't want to take one of the extender belts from someone who might need it. It's very frustrating."

She added: "I think anyone who has experienced fatphobia could see it that way – I have unfortunately experienced a lot of this kind of thing. I don't think it's fatphobic, but I think a lot of people could see it that way.

"I think it's them cutting corners more than being fatphobic. A size 16 is the size of the average UK woman. By this logic, the average person needs an extender.

"I know that we can bring our own [extender belt], but why should we? Do they expect us to just hang on to something and hope for the best? But people are like, 'oh you want bigger seats, [you should] lose weight' and so on and so on, but this is about safety.

"We don't want bigger seats. It's the belt. You wouldn't get into a car with a belt that doesn't fit. Your safety shouldn't have to be compromised."

The activist is now calling for the public to listen to the concerns of plus-sized people. Fellow holidaymakers who are plus sized have said they’ve noticed "looks of disgust" when asking for seatbelt extenders.

Katie says that her confusion only heightened on when she flew home and was given a seat belt that fit perfectly. She now thinks that flying with Ryanair is like "potluck".

The beautician decided to use social media to shame the airline. After sharing her post on Facebook, Katie claims that she was contacted by several plus-sized women who had been left feeling "embarrassed" after having to request a belt extender on a flight.

Katie said: "I flew on Friday, and I was lassoed by the seatbelt. I flew back again on the Monday and the seatbelt was looser. So unless I'm doing magic tricks over the weekend, this is a bit of an issue.

"It's one of those situations that's like, 'put up or shut up'. Maybe it's because it's a budget airline you [should] just expect these things, but we're not [even] getting cheap flights anymore.

"I put the post up on Facebook it would help someone else feel less alone. It could be quite damaging for people. It's nothing to do with the size of you. It's to do with the size of the belt and the safety aspect of it."

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Katie's post racked up hundreds of likes and comments and several viewers shared their own experiences. One said: "Last year flying to Dublin, during the flight out the belt fit fine and I felt really good! On the way home, not a chance.

"I hated myself so much and it took everything I had not to cry." Another said: "I'm so glad you posted this. I thought it was just me. I can't even breathe when I'm on a Ryanair flight and it's much too embarrassing to ask for the extender.

"I know I shouldn't be, because as you said, we all come in different shapes and sizes." Katie isn't the only plus sized traveller to complain about the provision made on planes.

Earlier this year, an activist started a petition to demand that airlines provide larger seats. Alternatively, she said it would be OK if they offered a free second seat to larger passengers.

Ryanair was contacted for comment.

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