Jae’lynn Chaney, an influencer from Vancouver, Canada, has started a petition on Change.org asking that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires all US airlines give plus-size passengers “an extra seat, or even two or three seats depending on their size,” to ensure their comfort during flights. The 26-year-old from Vancouver, Washington, who has nearly 130,000 followers on Tiktok and 95,000 on Instagram, started making videos about her experience as a plus-size traveler in 2021.
On her social media channels, Chaney posted videos expressing that she and her fiancé had suffered strong discrimination during a flight, when other passengers refused to sit next to them. According to her Instagram account, during the two-hour flight they were given “disapproving looks” and even received “hateful comments” that caused the influencer pain and generated a feeling of “vulnerability”. She has since received a lot of harsh and critical comments on social media after her latest videos went viral.
I knew that I wasn’t alone in this experience. I felt compelled to do something about it.Jae’lynn Chaney
She added that even when she and her fiancé buy additional seats on their own, they are still mistreated by other passengers and also by airline staff. That is why she started a crusade. Through her petition on Change.org, she is urging other people who have gone through the same experience to ask the airlines to reimburse the money paid so far for extra seats for plus-size travelers. “I often felt lost and in need of guidance, reassurance, and answers, but unfortunately, there wasn’t much out there to help me,” she told Insider magazine.
The petition has so far garnered more than ten thousand signatures. “During a flight from Pasco to Denver, my fiancé was subjected to hateful comments, disapproving looks and even one person refused to sit next to him, which is tantamount to discrimination,” Chaney wrote on Change.org. “On another flight I was forced to occupy a single seat with immovable armrests that caused me pain and bruising.”
“This policy must have clear and inclusive guidelines on the accommodation of large customers, including plus-size passengers, people with disabilities, tall people and anyone who needs more space to feel comfortable while flying,” she wrote. “To this end, airlines should also provide alternative seating arrangements, larger seats and other accessible size accommodations to ensure that all passengers can have a safe and pleasant flying experience.”
Among the suggestions, Chaney listed: additional free seating, or even multiple seats, to meet their needs and ensure their comfort and safety, as well as that of those around them; reimbursement for plus-size customers who purchase additional seats independently; and clear, accessible and easy-to-understand communication about reserving additional seats, requesting reimbursement and what to expect during check-in, boarding and flying as a plus-size customer.
“This mistreatment of plus-size passengers is unacceptable and highlights the urgent need for airlines to improve their policies to protect the dignity and rights of all passengers, regardless of their size,” she wrote.
Another request in the petition is for airlines and government agencies that regulate the industry to train all employees on how to accommodate plus-size customers. “This training will teach staff how to use language that does not focus on a person’s body size, shape or abilities, but treats them with respect and dignity.”