This Influencer Started a Petition to Protect Plus-size Travelers While Flying — and It Has Thousands of Supporters

A petition by Jae'lynn Chaney asks the FAA to “require all airlines to implement a clear customer-of-size policy that prioritizes the comfort and well-being of all passengers.”

 Jae'lynn Chaney while on the Big Island of Hawaii

Jae'lynn Chaney

Thousands of people have signed a petition demanding the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) create a policy that spells out guidelines airlines must follow to accommodate plus-size passengers

The petition, which was created by plus-size travel, fashion, and lifestyle influencer Jae'lynn Chaney, has amassed more than 6,900 signatures so far. It asks the FAA to “require all airlines to implement a clear customer-of-size policy that prioritizes the comfort and well-being of all passengers,” including guidelines on providing larger seats, seat belt extenders, and alternative seating arrangements.

“It's an incredible feeling to see the petition gaining traction and to witness the diverse range of people coming together to support this movement,” Chaney told Travel + Leisure. “Being a voice for those who have felt voiceless for too long has been an honor… It's time for the travel industry to recognize the value of inclusivity and prioritize the comfort and well-being of all passengers.”

Chaney said she started the petition after her fiancé faced “hateful comments, disapproving looks, and even refusal to sit next to them” during a flight from Pasco to Denver. Chaney herself said she suffered pain and bruises after she was “forced to occupy only one seat with immovable armrests” on a different flight.

“As a plus-size traveler, I've experienced firsthand the challenges and mistreatment that many of us face in the air,” she told T+L. “The goal is to raise awareness about the issues that many travelers face when their bodies don't fit into the societal norm. It's time for the industry to recognize the diversity of bodies and experiences and take action to ensure that everyone feels welcomed and respected while traveling.”

Currently, customer of size policies differ from airline to airline. Southwest Airlines, for example, asks customers who “encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s)” to purchase an extra seat in advance, but refunds these extra seat purchases. Another example is Alaska Airlines, which requires customers who “cannot comfortably fit within one seat with the armrests in the down position” to purchase an additional seat, but refunds customers if the flight departs with an open seat available.

On the other end of the spectrum is Delta Air Lines, which does not require travelers to purchase an additional seat, but adds “if a passenger impedes on another passenger, they may be asked to move to another location that provides additional space, or in the event of a full flight, be asked to take a later flight with available seating.”

When reached by T+L, a spokesperson for the FAA pointed to a 90-day public comment period held last year on minimum seat dimensions necessary for airline passenger safety. The spokesperson said the agency is currently reviewing the thousands of comments it received.

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