WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY – FLYING WITH AN AIRPLANE SEAT BELT EXTENDER
I have to admit that as I sit here and even write about this topic, it is still a painful one. So much so that I thought about not writing about it…. but I think our stories need to be told and I am hoping that my experience may help motivate others.
As shown in green below, this was one of my big NSVs — if you haven’t already ready my post on NSVs, click here.
● No longer have to wear airplane seat belt extender — Achieved 5/1/2012
For several years leading up to 5/1/2012, I had to fly at least once a month on business trips. I really never minded flying – with the huge exception of needing to ask for a seat belt extender. Like many morbidly obese people, I would board the plane filled with trepidation of whether or not the seat belt would fit. I was lucky every now and then but at some point I just asked for one right away while I was boarding the plane; asking the flight attendant, in a low voice. However, after this one experience I decided not to have to deal with asking the airline for one any longer.
The photo I am posting on the right side is a pretty good visual of the flight I am going to describe. Picture me in the empty seat. I always would ask for an aisle seat so I could have the added room and essentially, spill over into the aisle. Especially since my arms were very large, I felt that by sitting on the aisle I at least eliminated having one of my arms infringe on another passenger’s space. Of course, aisle seats were not always available and so for this particular flight I had to sit at the window.
I was seated next to a man and his child. I realized the seat belt wouldn’t fit and the plane was already almost full, so I pushed the call button for a flight attendant. I asked for a seatbelt extender and she was pleasant and brought one to me pretty quickly.
At this point the child, simply being a child, asks his father ‘what is that?‘ To be honest I don’t even remember what the father answered but he was civil about it. The child kept pressing him and he tried to ‘shush’ him. Of course, I was already mortified at this point. I decided at that moment to never have to ask for one again; to order one online as soon as I could and carry it with me when flying.
To make matters even worse, the flight was several hours. My hips were so large that they pressed up against the ‘seat back’ button dead on. This resulted in my seat constantly going back when I didn’t want it too. And sure enough there was another child sitting in the seat behind me. So picture this, for the next several hours my seat would go back and I would then hit the button to bring it forward. I was very uncomfortable and I’m sure the child probably was too. I seriously think I had to do this at least 30 times, if not more.
Well these two humiliating experiences on this flight were definitely a stark reminder and ‘wake up call’ to me that I needed to do something about my weight. Afterwards I began researching weight loss surgery. I also bought an extender on eBay and began flying with it regularly.
I’m happy to say that after losing the weight, I not only no longer dreaded flying but I ended up taking a new position in my company which required me to fly almost every week on Mondays & Fridays. I did that for the past four years before retiring in January 2017. I could have never accepted that position, which was a promotion, had I not lost all the weight.
In addition to that, if I sat in a row where someone got the middle seat and looked at all uncomfortable, I would volunteer to sit there instead. Several times my offer was accepted. I am a short person also so I now have plenty of room in an airplane seat – both height and width wise – and I really don’t mind the middle seat.
At the same time it also became odd for me to hear someone say, ‘oh, I’m glad I have a skinny person next to me….’ or ‘It’s a good thing you’re so little.’ Of course when I heard those types of comments it took several seconds for me to even realize they were talking about me — “Skinny… who? me?”
Do you have any similar experiences you would like to share with our group?
Can you relate?