Kasey Armstrong
Author: Kasey Armstrong, Customer Experience Team Lead

Kasey is committed to understanding how we can improve our processes to better help travellers looking to find the right cover.

4 min read

What you need to know

The topic of travel and obesity has certainly been known to open up debate in the past. Whilst it is true that there is limited space in an airplane’s cabin (we’d hardly call the average seat roomy, would you?), the argument for ensuring that all passengers are treated with sensitivity must be taken into account. If you’re a person of above-average size and planning a trip, the best thing to do is to put a little forethought into your journey and do your research before showing up at the airport. That way, you’ll know exactly what to expect.

Introduction to obesity

The NHS estimates that one in every four adults in the UK and around one in every five children aged 10-11 are obese. This term is used to describe a person who is very overweight with more body fat than is healthy for their frame. Generally, those with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese, although this rule doesn’t always hold fast – muscular people can also have a high BMI with very little body fat.  

It is very important to take steps to avoid or combat obesity as the condition can lead to a number of physical and emotional issues such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, some types of cancer, low self-esteem and depression. However, sometimes treatment is not as simple as cutting calories and moving more. There can be deeper psychological reasons that contribute towards a person being obese as well as underlying health problems.  

With that in mind, here are a few tips for how you can travel with peace of mind if you are obese… 

Check our your airline policies in advance

Due to the modern lifestyle where we spend a lot of time sitting at computers and in front of the TV as well as the increasingly easy access to all manner of convenience and junk food, obesity is a condition that’s on the rise. Remember you are not the only person facing this situation. Call your airline in advance to discuss your circumstances – they will be able to inform you of the exact size of the seat and advise you on the best course of action.

On one hand, some airlines might only consider you safe if you can fit into a single seat with both arms down; on the other, the majority will try to accommodate you by rearranging the seating so you have a spot where you can enjoy more space. Some airlines might suggest you pay for a second seat to ensure you have enough room – in the case of US airline Southwest, they will actually refund that second seat after you fly, whether or not the flight was over-booked. Now that’s what we call service. 

Safety first

The main issue is ensuring that a seatbelt fits around you comfortably. Again, check with your airline as not all seatbelts are the same size – most will be able to provide you with an appropriate seatbelt extender. Although it could be tempting to try to purchase your own off the Internet, you might find that the airline doesn’t accept these as they have to comply with their own rigorous safety tests. 

Dress comfortably

Pay some attention to what you wear during your flight. You might want to look presentable and smart (who knows if you might get that elusive upgrade?) but team this with comfort so that you can feel as relaxed as possible.  

It’s also essential to make sure you purchase the right travel insurance for your trip, just in case any health issues occur while you’re abroad. In order to ensure your policy remains valid, it’s important to be as honest as possible with your chosen insurance provider about any pre-existing health issues you may have. Fortunately, Medical Travel Compared offer access to insurers that will provide cover for a range of these conditions – discover our online comparison tool today.

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