A woman claims she was “lassoed” into her chair by short seatbelt on a Ryanair flight.
Katie Higgins says that plus-size passengers are exposed to “looks of disgust” from fellow travellers if they ask for extenders. The beautician was travelling from Glasgow, Scotland, to visit family in Cork, Ireland, and opted for Ryanair as the budget airline offered a direct flight between the two cities.
After the 33-year-old boarded the flight, she discovered that she was in for an uncomfortable journey, saying that the seatbelt was so tight it “lassoed” her to her seat. Katie explained that the seatbelt had no give and that there was barely an inch of room left when she pulled on the uncomfortably tight fabric that was cutting into her stomach.
She said would have had to ask for an extender belt if the material was any tighter, despite the fact that she matches the profile of the average UK woman at a dress size 16. Katie says that she isn’t “delusional” and knows she is a “bigger woman”, but was left baffled when the belt didn’t fit as she had lost two stone in weight.
Kennedy News/Katies Curvy Closet)
Kennedy News/Katies Curvy Closet)
The part-time blogger shared her experience on Facebook where she claimed that the budget airline’s tight seat belts could harm “the self-esteem and mental health” of plus-sized passengers. She said that the short belts are fundamentally a ‘safety issue’ and believes that the airline could be viewed as “fatphobic” by some flyers.
The activist is now calling for the public to listen to the concerns of plus-sized people – rather than telling them to lose weight or accusing them of demanding bigger seats. Katie, from Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland, said: “I flew on Friday, and I was lassoed by the seat belt. It just fitted, but if it had been digging into me anymore, I would have been very uncomfortable.
“But if someone else was a different shape or a different size, they might not be able to tie it. With other airlines, you can usually pull the length of the belt a little and try to adjust it, but there was none of that. It was across me, and there was about an inch [of room] at the bottom and nothing else.
“If it was any tighter, I would have been very uncomfortable on the flight. There was no give. I’m not delusional, I know I’m a bigger woman. But there has to be some bit of give, especially since I lost two stone in weight. Because it just fit, I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to take one of the extender belts from someone who might need it. It’s very frustrating.
“There must have been other people on the flight in a worse position than me. If it just fits, even if it’s a bit tight, I’ll let someone else use the belt. I think anyone who has experienced fatphobia could see it that way – I have unfortunately experienced a lot of this kind of thing.
“I don’t think it’s fatphobic, but I think a lot of people could see it that way. I think it’s them cutting corners more than being fatphobic. A size 16 is the size of the average UK woman. By this logic, the average person needs an extender.”
Katie questioned why larger people should have to bring their own seat-extenders, which is an option on Ryanair,
“Do they expect us to just hang on to something and hope for the best? “But people are like, ‘oh you want bigger seats, [you should] lose weight’ and so on and so on, but this is about safety. We don’t want bigger seats. It’s the belt – you wouldn’t get into a car with a belt that doesn’t fit. Your safety shouldn’t have to be compromised,” she added.
Katie said that her confusion only heightened on her flight home when she was given a fitting seat belt – which led her to claim that flying with Ryanair is like “potluck”. After posting about the incident on social media, Katie said
she was contacted by several plus-sized women who had been left feeling embarrassed after having to request a belt extender on a flight.
Katie said: “I flew on Friday, and I was lassoed by the seatbelt. I flew back again on the Monday and the seatbelt was looser. So unless I’m doing magic tricks over the weekend, this is a bit of an issue.
“I was more annoyed than anything else, because it’s like potluck getting on a flight – it’s like, ‘oh, who gets a belt that fits and who doesn’t?’ I haven’t complained before because I feel like it would fall on deaf ears. It’s one of those situations that’s like, ‘put up or shut up’.
“Maybe it’s because it’s a budget airline you (should) just expect these things, but we’re not (even) getting cheap flights anymore. I put the post up on Facebook it would help someone else feel less alone. It could be quite damaging for people, to feel like it’s just them.
“There’s a lot of people who reached out and told me that they bought their own belt extender because they were afraid of the embarrassment. It’s nothing to do with the size of you – it’s to do with the size of the belt and the safety aspect of it.”
Ryanair has been contacted for comment.