Can You Bring Your Own Seat Belt Extender on a Plane?

Bringing a seat belt extender is not illegal but prohibited by most airlines.

Airlines do not allow them because most of the seat belt extenders bought from stores are substandard equipment and pose a danger to your life and other passengers. 

Every day, airplane seats are getting smaller and smaller, and so are the belt lengths. Air carriers do this in an attempt to make the aircraft more cost-effective. 

But, smaller seats have made traveling difficult for some plus-sized passengers.

So, the question is, can you bring your own seat belt extenders on the plane? Let’s take a look. 

Do Airlines Allow Seat Belt Extenders on the Airplane?

Most air services do not allow passengers to carry their own airplane seat belt extenders. 

When it comes to airline security measures, the FAA is the authority responsible. But, FAA regulations don’t have any specific guidelines against the extenders.

However, they have made it clear that if any injury or incident occurs because of a seat belt extender brought by a customer, they will hold the airline responsible. Thus, air services do not permit extenders.

Other than that, if a person gets injured, disabled, or dies because of another passenger wearing a non-certified extender, the law will hold the wearer liable for disobeying the rules. The wearer might even have to pay for others’ injuries.

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Why Do Airlines Discourage Seat Belt Extenders?

The belts that come pre-equipped with the aircraft can withstand situations like intense vibrations or turbulence. But the extenders bought locally do not promise similar security.

These substandard extenders might get damaged easily and pose a danger to the passenger or those around them. So, as a security measure, air services do not allow passengers to carry their own extenders.

Are There Any FAA-Approved Extenders?

No. 

The FAA has stated clearly on its official website that the extenders provided by air carriers are the only ones certified by the FAA. Other than that, the FAA hasn’t approved any other seat belt manufacturers.

However, some airplane seat belt manufacturers illegally use FAA-certified tags, but the FAA has not actually approved these products.

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Will the Seat Belt on the Plane Fit Me?

Different air services use different seat belt lengths. Thus, below, you’ll find some famous air carriers and the seat belts length they use, so you know if you’ll be able to wear their seat belts. 

Aeromexico51 inches
Hawaiian Airlines50 inches
JetBlue49.5 inches
Alaska Airlines46 inches
American Airlines45 inches
Southwest Airlines39 inches
Delta Airlines38 inches
United Airlines31 inches

You should always call your airline before flying to check that the seats and belts are the right sizes for you. 

What Should I Do if I Can’t Bring My Own Seat Belt Extender?

Not having your own extender isn’t a problem nowadays. Air carriers usually have a seat belt extender, so you can always ask a flight attendant for one. 

The FAA advises air services to carry a minimum of four seat belt extenders on every flight and provide them to obese passengers for free.

And don’t worry if you feel insulted by asking for one because the airline has trained their flight attendants to be discreet in these situations.  

So, don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. Just call over a cabin crew member and whisper it to them.

Or, if you want to ensure that the airline has an extender for you, you can call in advance or ask one of the gate agents if they have an extender before you board.  

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Can I Buy an Extra Seat if I Need To?

Yes, you can buy a second seat if you fear you won’t fit in a standard seat. Also, remember that many airlines have larger seats in first-class, so it may be cheaper to buy one first-class ticket rather than two economy tickets. 

However, if you can’t get an additional seat or a first-class ticket, you can always go on a later flight. 

Furthermore, keep in mind that some air services restrict large passengers and those who need personal extenders from sitting in the exit row. So, pay attention to your airline’s policy when choosing your flight and seats. 

Finally, you should know that, according to the FAA, you have to be able to lower both armrests when seated. Thus, don’t try to squeeze into a single seat if you can’t, or staff may have to ask you to leave the plane. 

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Conclusion

Bringing a seat belt extender is dangerous, and you should not risk the safety of yourself and others just because you feel ashamed of asking for an extender when flying. Instead, discreetly ask a cabin crew member for a certified seat belt extender.

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