This is what it’s really like to be a plus-size person on a plane

Laura Hampson

Research released today has found that 80 per cent of Brits think that plus-size ‘zones’ should be introduced on planes and the people that use them should be charged extra.

The research from asked 2,494 Brits aged over 18 whether they thought plus-sized passengers should have a dedicated zone on planes where the seats are more ‘accommodating’ to their size – 79 per cent of respondents said yes.

They were then asked if they felt the plus-size people should be charged more for the ‘luxury’ of a larger seat. Nearly all (91 per cent) said yes.

While these questions were clearly asked to provoke an 'outrage' response, as someone who society considers ‘plus-size’ this news broke my heart.

You see, as much as I love flying, I often get anxiety about how the space I take up affects others.

The common trope of flying as a plus-size person is seen frequently in TV shows or thrown around in conversations that make me shift a little in my seat.

The trope whereby is when the average-sized protagonist boards the plane only to be seated in the middle of two overweight individuals. The protagonist sighs or look displeased and it is meant to be comic relief, but it makes me shrivel inside.

While I may be considered the low end of the plus-size scale, how I am impacting others around me is always at the forefront of my mind.

Whenever I board a plane I try to book a window seat and make sure I am at the front of the boarding queue so that I can get on, place my carry bag in the hold and slide into my seat before my seatmates arrive.

My logic around the window seat is that I can lean against it, making myself smaller and inconveniencing the person sitting next to me less. I try to avoid eye contact as my biggest worry is they will see me and look visibly displeased.

I make sure to avoid the shared armrest at all costs, often resting my arm across my body in order to fold myself into the smallest version of me possible.

All of this is an attempt to make myself less of an inconvenience that I already know I am - or that I've been told I am - and it's research like this that fuels the fat-shaming so many plus-size people receive and the intolerance that builds up against them.

So while sitting next to a plus-size person may be an 'inconvenience' to you, people can be overweight for a number of different reasons and you never know what the person next to you is going through.