So, after my freak out last night, some of you have shown concern- LOL. I'm not lying, I did have a good amount of anxiety this morning. I just sucked it up and dealt with it. I thought I'd give a quick update while I have Wi-Fi at Panera (grabbing a quick lunch)
Flight 1: packed plane, small regional jet. Discreet flight attendant happily got me a seatbelt extender. I made it first to the row and had a few minutes to get my extender clipped, tightened and armrest down. Armrest did compress against my hip, thus making the recline button permenantly depressed. Had to use stomach and back to hold myself upright during takeoff. Didn't say a word to man next to me. He seemed to be fine, and not terribly inconvenienced. I read 1/2 of a really great Inc. Magazine (November 2009 issue).
Flight 2: This was the one that I was freaked out about last night. The one where I was assigned a middle seat. After having a great customer service experience with a ticket change with Delta earlier in the day (for next weeks trip), I decided that I should give it a shot and try US Airways. Had to explain that I was a larger individual who required a seatbelt extender, and wanted to request a window or aisle as to not inconvenience the passengers to the left or right of me as I was assigned a middle seat. She suggested I upgrade to a choice seat (the dumbest thing ever, IMHO). The only seats left on the plane were choice seats, about 10 seats that are reserved for Preferred members, or to those who paid a little extra. I told her I tried to get a choice seat, but it wouldn't let me. She said that if I did online check in, it would offer me the preferred seat and show me the price. I thanked her and jumped online to check in. There were 2 full, empty rows of Choice seats, so I picked a window seat in one of them. Cost me a whopping $5 (it was WAY worth it for my sanity). When I got to the gate, I realized that the plane was going to be crowded- a few people were on standby (they eventually all made it on). Got on the plane, flight attendant cordially got me a seatbelt extender (although it was not discreet at all). I was first to the row, had a chance to buckle myself in. I tried to see how close I was to getting the seatbelt on, and it looks like 3 inches in the hips. I can totally do that. Man sat in aisle seat, and we didn't have anyone in the middle. I crossed my fingers and said a little prayer, and when the cabin door shut, my stress was released. I threw the arm rest up and lounged comfortably. Woot!
One other sidenote as I finish up my Greek Salad at Panera (yum salad, but not so yum breath afterwards). Last time I was in the Charlotte airport trudging through the terminals (today was from terminal E to terminal B) I noticed how winded I was and how long it seemed to get from point A to point B. Today? No issue whatsoever. I'm a notoriously slow walker, but I still passed people! Ended up ignoring the delicious smells of Cinnabon and got a grande red eye with cream from Starbucks and a cup of non-fat, sugar free white chocolate macadamia nut frozen yogurt. I felt like a little kid getting to eat ice cream for breakfast!
Also, when I made it to the rental car pick up, I had gotten a compact car, because it's just me, and I'm watching company $$. I start to drive to the check-out portion and the guy noticed me having to manually crank the window down. I must have looked confused- it's been so long since I've cranked a window. He said “oh no, you don't need this compact car!” I thought he was trying to sell me an upgrade, to which I replied, “no sir, this is fine, really!”. Then he pointed over to a Pontiac G6 and said- “Free Upgrade! Let's Go!” So, thankfully I'm not cramped in a Hyundai Accent with crank windows and instead am in a fun, full size Pontiac G6, whose steering wheel doesn't cut into my gut. SCORE!
So, thanks for all the good vibes. By all indications, they worked! XOXO