Flying while fat–and while Fat Chic


I fly about once a year, sometimes more on a busy year. I LOVE to fly – the pulse of the airplane, the variety in every airport, the simple joy of talking to strangers because that’s what you do when you travel – although hopefully not with the stranger in the airplane seat next to you. I also do have to face the usual amount of fat prejudice when flying, and for that reason alone, I will never under any circumstances fly Southwest airlines. Yes, I know there are people that love them. I wonder how those individuals might do after an “audit” by the Church of Scientology, too – just because someone is nice enough to you does not mean they’re a good person, and Southwest airlines, as long as corporate personhood exists, is that creepy political jerk that’s nice to your face and then steals your credit cards while talking about how fat your ass looks in those pants.

I have another flight coming up soon. I’ll be meeting some friends for a vacation. I’ve already learned the ins and outs of the ariline and I put down a little extra money for the “economy plus” seats – more for their location than for the “generous” 3 inches of space they provide. But there are other considerations.

So far, I’ve only ever needed a seatbelt extender twice.  I was about 15 pounds heavier last year when I went to Paris, and I only needed the extender once, in a weird corner seat thing on the Iceland Air flight. Of course, international flight seats tend to be a bit larger – because you already feel like a sardine, so why make it worse?

The other time was on a tiny plane with the word Canada on the side of the plane – which is usually a warning that there will be no space for luggage let alone a human being. The woman next to me was super sweet and let me stash some luggage in her space – as it was, it was small enough I was tempted to offer to just grip the top of the plane as we went… but really, my grip is just not that good.

As I prepare for the next round of flights, I’m already thinking ahead to what to wear on my vacation. The trickiest part for me? What I wear while flying.

My standards for air travel clothing:

  • Shoes that come off for the inevitable search
  • A place to stash my ID on my physical person where a pick-pocket would lose a hand trying to snatch it
  • Preferably clothing that does not set off metal detectors or encourage a strip search
  • Stuff I can sleep in, without getting marks on my body from pressure

The shoes are easy – Crocs. Nearly all are designed to slip off easily, and nowadays they actually make them look stylish. Also, if I step in a mud puddle on the way out of the airport, it’s no big deal. I realize some might wonder how they pair with compression hose, but most of the time that’s not an issue for me – I get up, stretch, fly, all that stuff.

The other clothing is a bit more complicated. I do have to factor things like time of month, etc.

A few years ago Just My Size made some compression pants that are insanely comfortable and have a gorgeous flow to them. They don’t look like sweats – they’re actually really classy and gorgeous. The down side? No pockets. But I can comfortably wear them with a tank top and a sturdy bra, and I end up feeling pretty good.

But the pocket-free thing can create something of a problem, especially on airlines that make a great deal of money restricting what you can carry with you on board. While I can just stuff a passport and a little cash in my bra, it raises two problems: first, change does NOT work well in any bra, and two, there’s other stuff I need to carry, like lip balm.

My workaround is a photographer’s vest type thing.

How stylish the vest is depends on how confidently you wear it. It’s also excellent for storing all the things I keep in my purse. Of course, I actually keep a camera and camera peripherals in my purse so perhaps for me it’s not the transition it might be for someone else. Also, because it’s designed for travel, no one really thinks twice about what I might be wearing beneath it unless it’s a ridiculous ball gown.


If I don’t do the whole “pants” thing, I think this is actually a great opportunity to wear a maxi dress – preferably one with sleeves. It’s comfortable, you can sleep in it, and you can just change shoes when you land if you need to look a little bit fancy at a dinner or a “let’s network straight from the airport!” moment.


My keys for travel: comfort, ease, and security. It’s my favorite combination.


Find your own plus size travel clothing on Fat Chic Clothing Search..

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