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Travel tips for overweight airline passengers

Thursday - 4/5/2012, 7:39am  ET

AP: c03e420d-f805-4e40-b343-32d30e815211
Southwest Airlines allows staff members to decide if an overweight passenger will require a second seat ticket. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON Size really matters when it comes to airplane seats.

And for travelers who have a few - or many - extra pounds, the in-flight experience can be daunting.

Enter Travel Tips for People of Size, a four-page brochure put together by the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

"We felt that it was something that was important to do for people," says Peggy Howell, the public relations director for NAAFA.

"We get inquiries from people very often about which airlines have the widest seats, or which have the most legroom, which airlines might require you to buy a second seat," she says.

The tips guide breaks down the entire flight process, from booking the right seats to navigating tight spaces in the lavatory.

"It is at least a little better to know up front what you're going to be dealing with," Howell says.

The brochure advises travelers to "consider bringing your own sandwich, which you can eat without a table, so as to avoid any issues at meal time."

It warns that the tray table from the arm rest or seat back "will probably not work for you."

The guide also advises about the variety of airline policies concerning when a passenger will be required to purchase a second seat.

Southwest Airlines, for example, defers to staff members, who determine if a traveler needs more than a single ticket. If the flight is not sold out, passengers can claim a refund for the second seat.

On American Airlines, the brochure suggests, fliers over 250 pounds should buy an extra seat.

And United Airlines requires a second seat if the passenger cannot put both armrests down and buckle the belt using an extender.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)