Stats: 71% Think Planes Should Have “Plus Size Zones”

Airplane cabin with passengers
Photo by AlxeyPnferov/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Almost three quarters of American travelers – 71 percent – think that airplanes should have “plus size zones” for larger passengers, according to a new study of the top issues airline passengers face during a flight from

A third of American passengers who have had issues sitting next to a plus size passenger on their flight have requested a seat move, either for the other passenger or themselves, according to the study.

The team at undertook the research as part of an ongoing study into American’s travel experiences. 4,887 Americans aged 18 and over, all of whom stated that they have flown at least once in the past 12 months, were quizzed about what they felt could be changed to enhance their flying experience.


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Initially all respondents were asked “Have you ever had a flight that was uncomfortable or unbearable for one reason or another?” to which two fifths of respondents (42%) confessed that “yes” they have.

Wanting to delve a little deeper, all respondents were asked what had happened on their latest flight in order for them to have an unpleasant experience. When provided with a list of possible responses and told to select all that applied, the top five responses were revealed as:

  1. Fellow passengers were very disruptive – 57 percent
  2. The passenger in front wouldn’t put their seat upright – 42 percent
  3. The food portion was too small/not to my liking – 23 percent
  4. The leg room was very limited – 19 percent
  5. The person next to me was encroaching into my space – 14 percent

According to the poll, when asked how they’d dealt with being sat next to plus-size passengers they felt were encroaching into their space, the top responses were “I spoke to cabin crew to get myself/them moved elsewhere on the plane” (29%) and “I made a point of using the arm rest to reclaim my space” (27%). A further 21 percent dealt with the situation and just 2 percent confessed to saying anything to the passenger in question.

Finally, all respondents were asked “Do you believe there should be a dedicated space on the flight for plus size people, with larger seats and more leg room?” to which 71 percent felt that “yes” there should be. When asked if they should have to pay extra for this, 93 percent felt they should.

In a written release a spokesperson for said, “Flying can be an uncomfortable experience for many people, and that also includes those who are plus size; they have the fear of using aisles not particularly wide at the best of times and have the worry of whether or not they’ll comfortably fit into their allocated seat. Introducing plus size areas on airplanes isn’t about segregating them, it’s about making them comfortable too and not having to worry about the size of aisles and seats, or what people are thinking.”


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