Last Monday, I woke up to my alarm clock and rolled over as usual to grab my phone and check my email before even wiping the crusties out of my eyes. Typically I just delete all the junk mail and then flag other emails to follow up on after I've at least brushed my teeth. Something in me though said to open an email I had gotten about someone having a bad flight experience on Southwest. It's standard fare for Southwest – humiliating “people of size” and having them buy two seats. I was so livid for the person who emailed me, perhaps even more so as I was about to board a flight to Chicago in 3 hours.
I've written numerous times here about flying when overweight. It's a major goal of mine to not have to use a seatbelt extender on an airplane. Here are some old posts (in order of oldest to newest):
I wasn't too worried since I don't book flights on Southwest, however I had a little anxiety because I was flying United, which I normally don't (usually, it's Delta). By the time I got through security (frisked and all), the flight only had about five minutes until boarding. I hopped on board and there wasn't a flight attendant up front greeting passengers, so I didn't have the opportunity to ask for a seatbelt extender. I usually ask at the front when boarding because it's quick and easy for the flight attendant to grab it and discreetly hand it over instead of having to push the call button at your seat and have her hand it over the person next to you.
I got to my seat and the man sitting in the aisle was already seated. I try to board quickly so I can get into my window seat before having to inconvenience anyone of moving from their seat. Fail 2 of the boarding process.
I sat down and got situated and was wondering if I could catch the flight attendant on her way to close the overhead storage bins. While I was sitting there, I noticed I and the man next to me seemed to have plenty of room. I was actually somewhat COMFORTABLE *insert gasp.* I looked down at my lap and saw the unfastened seatbelt hanging. I discreetly grabbed both ends and tried to put them close to each other as to look as if I had my seatbelt on until the flight attendant came back. No idea what compelled me to do this, but I tried to buckle the seatbelt.
It buckled! No extender needed!
If I could have fist-bumped the nice dude next to me without looking like a complete psychotic ass, I would have. Instead, I smiled coyly and opened up my book to read. The little dance I did inside my head was quite epic.
On the way home, I was flying on an even smaller regional jet where it is 1 seat on one side and 2 on the other. I had the 1 seat side, and unfortunately the seatbelt was way small and required an extender. My bubble was temporarily burst, but I had more progress than I had seen in years, and it is enough to keep me going, despite being frustrated about my ankle.
Perhaps one of the next times I'm in Chicago, I'll be climbing the stairs of this building in Hustle Up the Hancock!