Airline Passenger Size, Seat Belt and Extender Lengths

All Airlines have a published policy and legal contract with their passengers to ensure their safety and comfort while flying. In some circumstances, there are guests who will require more room than the single purchased seat will allow. This is called a “Contract of Carriage” and can assist passengers who require more personal room in understanding what each airline’s policies are.

The general guideline is that if you can not sit in your single purchased seat with BOTH armrests lowered and need a seatbelt extender, then most airlines require you to purchase a secondary seat at full purchase price, if one is open on your flight. There is the option for the Airline to ask you to move to another seat where you can take advantage of the second seat at no charge, IF there are open seats on the flight. It is completely dependent on the airline policy and so it is vital that before you book your plane ticket, you ask about their policy concerning “Guests of Size”.

Remember that if there is no extra seat to accommodate you on that particular flight and you have not confirmed what their policy is before booking, then you can be removed from the plane and placed on the next available flight that has 2 seats to accommodate you.

As well, this information is only accurate effective at the time of publication and can change as companies adjust to need and demand for the services. Please check with your Airline Carrier for their current policy, before you book your flight.

Every airline has the width of their seat listed in their specifications. It’s a simple process to check the size, before you book the tickets to ensure your comfort and for those guests sharing the flight with you.

If a seatbelt extender is required to ensure a guest is secured in their seat, then that guest is not allowed to sit in an emergency exit row, even if they have pre-purchased the seat and not informed the airline of their need for the extender. Even though they have paid a premium to sit in a seat with extra space, they will either be given an option to disembark and take another flight or  exchange seats with another guest on the same flight, who would be willing to move.

Remember, all these policies were effective the day they were researched and may have changed since publication. Please visit the airline web site and research the policy before you purchase your ticket.

Seatbelt Lengths By Airlines, given in inches and Policy
Airline Seat Belt Length Extenders on Plane Extender Length




AirTran Airways




Air Canada

41- 46.5



Air Canada Medical Desk: 800-667-47342 request Fit For Travel (FFT) form for Doctor to fill out at your expense. The form stays on file with AC for  2 yrs and has to be on file within 48 hrs of travel. An extra seat is provided at no cost for travel within Canada  with the medical form on file. For travel from Canada to USA and International destinations, purchase of a 2nd seat is required.
Alaska Airlines




Customers who are unable to lower both armrests and/or who encroach

upon any portion of the adjacent seat should proactively book the number of

seats needed prior to travel. Extender use is NOT allowed on exit rows

Allegiant Air




American Airlines




American Airlines will attempt to find larger customers a seat near an empty seat whenever possible.
Delta Airlines





Delta and Northwest passengers requiring a seat belt extender may be asked to pay for a second seat.
Hawaiian Airlines








Porter Airlines


Requests for additional seating for reasons of disability (obesity) will be reviewed and confirmation of approval or denial communicated to the passenger. If submitted within 48 hours, you may be required to pay for two seats in advance and submit a request for refund within 30 days once approval is granted.
Southwest Airlines




Customers who encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s) may proactively purchase the needed number of seats prior to travel in order to ensure the additional seat(s) is available. The armrest is considered to be the definitive boundary between seats; width between the armrests measures 17 inches. The purchase of additional seats serves as a notification to Southwest of a special seating need, and allows us to adequately plan for the number of seats that will be occupied on the aircraft.  In turn, this helps to ensure we can accommodate all Customers on the flight/aircraft for which they purchased a ticket and avoid asking Customers to relinquish their seats for an unplanned accommodation. Most importantly, it ensures that all Customers onboard have access to safe and comfortable seating. You may contact us for a refund of the cost of additional seating after travel. Customers of size who prefer not to purchase an additional seat in advance have the option of purchasing just one seat and then discussing their seating needs with the Customer Service Agent at their departure gate. If it is determined that a second (or third) seat is needed, they will be accommodated with a complimentary additional seat(s).
United Airlines


Must Pre-reserve


United airline policy require guests to be able to lower both armrests and to fasten seat belts using only one seat belt extender.
US Airways




US Airway has the option of refusing boarding if you are unable to sit in a seat with the armrest down and the seat belt fastened
Virgin America








One person One fare policy. Contact Medical Desk and obtain form on website to be taken to Dr and submitted for review a minimum of 5 days before flight departure. This can only be used on Domestic flights in Canada if approved. International and flights to USA require a separate seat to be purchased at full fare. Westjet vacations  or online bookings do NOT qualify for this policy.

About travelonlywithjodi

As a Canadian living in a country of such great diversity, the experience of vacationing throughout the world brings you a deep appreciation for the beautiful world around us as well. Spending money on travel is like investing in your soul. Be inspired. TravelOnly with Jodi.
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3 Responses to Airline Passenger Size, Seat Belt and Extender Lengths

  1. Fran martinez says:

    Do you know what size seat belt extension is required o Hawaiian airlines. I already own a the a.

    • This information is directly from the Hawaian Airline web site:

      We want all of our guests to have a relaxing flight, wherever they fly with Hawaiian Airlines. While we pride ourselves on offering some of the most comfortable seats in the industry, people come in all shapes and sizes and our seats are “one-size-fits-all.”

      In order to ensure a smooth flight experience, our airport customer service leaders may proactively approach you if they believe you may not find a coach seat comfortable. We know this can be a sensitive conversation, and our leaders are trained to approach guests with discretion and sensitivity, and to present options to get you to your destination in comfort.

      For us, the definitive gauge of seating capacity is the space between the arm-rests. If you are unable to comfortably lower the armrest on both sides of you, or if having done so, your torso extends beyond the outer boundary of the armrests, it is unlikely that you or adjacent passengers are going to have an enjoyable flight. If you are concerned that this may be the case, you have a number of options, and we will make our best effort to accommodate you:

      Option 1: Purchase Two Seats in Advance

      To ensure that you are satisfied with your travel experience, we will be happy to sell you two adjacent coach seats on any of our aircraft at the time of booking. While there are other ways to accommodate you on the day of departure, this is the best way to guarantee that you will have room on a crowded flight.

      If you would like to purchase two adjacent coach seats in advance, please call our Web Support Center for assistance.

      NOTE: The second seat is not refundable in the event that there are other empty seats on the flight when you depart.

      Option 2: Upgrade to First/Business Class

      Our business class seats are 18.5”-20.3” wide (depending on the type of aircraft), and can be surprisingly affordable. You can purchase in advance, or upgrade on the day of departure for a fixed fee (subject to availability).

      Please call your local Web Support Center to upgrade your seat to First/Business class. If you are within 24 hours of your scheduled departure, you can upgrade your seat through web check-in, airport kiosk check-in or with an Airport Customer Service agent.

      Option 3: Accommodation on Day of Departure

      If you purchase a single coach seat and find that it does not suit your needs, our Airport Customer Service agents will do their best to find a seat assignment for you with an adjacent empty seat. Please keep in mind that our flights are often quite full, and we can only move other guests if they are willing to do so.

      If the flight is full, or if no empty, adjacent coach seat can be secured by our staff, you must either pay for a first class upgrade or we will change your ticket to the next flight with an available adjacent seat. In some cases, the next flight may be the following day. We will do our utmost to accommodate you, but in some instances we will have no choice but to move you to a subsequent flight to ensure that you and our other guests can fly comfortably.


      For detailed seat dimensions (width) by aircraft type, please see below.

      Aircraft Type Main Cabin Seat Width First / Business Class Seat Width
      Airbus A330 16.2 inches – 18 inches 19.8 inches – 20.3 inches
      Boeing 767 17.8 inches 18.5 inches
      Boeing 717 18 inches 19 inches
      ATR 42-500 18 inches N/A

  2. Pingback: Economy Class seating on Planes | travelonlywithjodi

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