Passengers are getting bigger and bigger.  Not sure how airlines are going to deal with this one but they certainly are trying.  Now we all know how hard it is to lose those extra pounds and in this day and age we are all encouraged not to judge people by their bodies.  Those who used to delight in fat shaming are now in disgrace and nobody finds their memes or snarky comments funny.

So in this new politically correct scenario in come the airlines with a new idea – let’s just measure their waists to see if our seat belts will fit.

How embarrassing and humiliating.  How will they do this?

Well, in fairness to Thai Airlines who suggested this procedure, it has to do with the new aircraft and safety issues.

Here is a full article on the whole thing written by Bruce Parkinson for Open Jaw –

“Thai Airways has imposed a waist size limit on passengers and banned passengers carrying infants on their laps in business class on its Dreamliner planes.

The reason? The airline is planning to install seatbelt airbags on business class cabins on its new Dreamliner jets. That’s good news for nervous flyers, we suppose, but bad news for those carrying extra weight around their middle, because they simply won’t fit.

Passengers with a waistline of more than 142.24cm (or 56 inches) will not be able to fasten the new seatbelt airbags in a way that meets safety standards, according to Flight Lieutenant Prathana Pattanasiri, VP of TG’s safety, security and standards department, the Bangkok Post reports.

To put things in perspective, 56 inches is a waist size achieved only by a select few. According to some research, for a long life a human’s waist should be approximately half their height. Using that ratio, you’d have to be 9 feet, 4 inches tall to accommodate a 56-inch waist, which would definitely present other airline seating problems.

The new airbags will also make flying difficult for parents of young children, who will now be forced into economy if they plan to travel with kids sitting on their laps.

The seatbelts can’t be extended because of the airbag mechanism, according to the Post.”

Now I totally get that this is a real technical issue and there are in fact very few people who would have a waistline measurement of more than 56 inches.  But how do they determine who needs to be measured and who doesn’t?  Oh yes – it all comes down to the poor old check in agent again.  It will be he or she who will have to make the embarrassing call.  Will they actually have a tape measure?  And where will this be done?  Maybe in a curtained cubicle to spare the embarrassment?

It is a very difficult situation and yes – difficult for parents with young children on their laps and what about someone who is pregnant.  I googled waist measurement for pregnant woman and found that some reported to be 52 inches waist measurement at 9 months.  Well you wouldn’t be flying at 9 months I would imagine.  Interestingly many airlines don’t restrict pregnant women in any way while others will require a doctor’s note at certain stages of pregnancy.

Refer http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/airline-rules-traveling-while-pregnant

So in today’s world where we are all getting larger and obesity seems to be a real problem – especially in North America.  CNN reported that our children are getting fatter and fatter.


So I guess the airlines will have to start making bigger and bigger seats in their aircraft if they want to world to keep flying.



By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


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