The Reason I Didn’t Get On the Airplane

I was supposed to be in California last week.  My plan was to fly home from Los Angeles tomorrow, but I never left New Orleans.  Last Monday, as I went to check-in for my flight on Delta, I made a decision to stay home.  Delta’s policy for plus-size passengers is amazing, and it makes me respect them as an airline.  I just couldn’t get on the plane.

I was scheduled to fly into Los Angeles via Salt Lake City last Tuesday.  I was excited to head to Fitcation ’13 in Paso Robles, CA where I planned to do some amazing things with an amazing group of women.  They did it, but I did not.  I couldn’t talk about it last week because I felt so much shame.

Seriously, if you could shame someone into losing weight, I’d already be at goal.  It just doesn’t work that way.  I don’t thrive on fear or self-hatred or negativity, but it didn’t stop me from feeling those emotions last week.

When I looked at the check-in e-mail from Delta, I noticed that my seat selection didn’t look right.  It seemed as though I would be on a smaller plan that I had anticipated which made me incredibly nervous about the seats.  When I called to check into it, I learned that the seat on one of my flights would be smaller than 17 inches, and I cringed.  17 inches is pretty standard, and the only airline I fly who has bigger seats is Jet Blue.  Some seats are smaller though, and that’s a big problem for me.

I have had many positive experiences with Delta.  They are a great airline because they accommodate their passengers discretely and respectfully, but there was absolutely no way that I was getting on a plane in which I knew I was too big for the seat.  I can’t do that to myself.  I won’t do that to myself…ever.

My history with airplane seats is no secret.  I’ve been in a car on the way to JFK in front of reporters and cameras as I openly admit the anxiety that I face with flying due to my very public history with a different airline.  I love to travel, but I need to fit in the seat. According to one of the supervisors that I spoke to, Delta has a the right to change planes at their discretion.  I just didn’t know what to do so I stayed home.

It’s embarrassing to admit that I am now that person – you know, the one who stayed home, letting my size and the fear of its repercussions keep me from enjoying  what would have been a phenomenal trip.  Now I am the person that I’ve been fighting for in a very public manner for a long time now.

I missed an incredible week filled with friends and new experiences, and I have to admit it because if I don’t, it will continue to bother me just as it has over the last several days.  I made the best of my week at home, and some wonderful things happened.  I’m generally pretty happy, but my contentment was tainted by my faults and failures and shortcomings all week.

Now I’m trying to let it go.  I’m blessed, and I know it.  My life is fuller and more satisfying than it has ever been, and I don’t hate myself just because I’m not perfect.  My experience just highlighted the work that I still have to do.

I’m tired of my name being synonymous with flight issues, and I’m going to keep fighting this battle until I win it.  I’m going to continue loving myself and assuming that others will too.  I’m not going to sugarcoat my problems, but I am going to keep trying to fix them.


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  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 8:42 am

    i can so relate
    there are many things i will decline now because of my size
    word on the street is my father in law wants to pay for the entire family
    to go on a 5 day cruise next year…all expenses paid
    i am terrified
    not of the cruise….hell i lived on a sailboat for ten years
    i am terrified of the things my size will restrict me from

    • Reply
      October 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      Ohhhh! Go on the cruise, Mary! I’d go. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Bummer on missing out. :((
    Hugs to you.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I’m so sorry that you missed out, and that this is WHY you missed out.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Wouldn’t it have been worth it to buy two seats? Especially for that conference, I would have bit that bullet! :/

    In the spirit of moving on – I hope the anxiety you feel about flying will be lessened, both through policy changes and personal emotional growth! You’ve come a long way already in both areas!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I so understand how your feeling right now. I just recently (Sunday night) returned from a trip to Portland, Oregon. My husband had an insurance convention to go to and since I am now a part of the company he works for, I needed to be there too. Since the day I found out I was going, (6 months ago) I have had so much anxiety. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent online researching airlines and their plus size policy’s, as well as checking into all the flights on all the airlines to see what kind of plane I would be on, how big the seats were, as well as how long the seat belts were, as I felt I would be embarrassed to ask for an extension. (I even have a tape measure in my desk drawer, for… well I’m sure you can figure that out). 🙂 I started going without eating, and trying to exercise as much as I could fit into my schedule, and I lost a few lbs to only become anxious when I thought about the trip, and then eat and gain it back. My husband, of just a few years, knows of course that I am not thin, but he has no idea how much I weigh. I was so scared that I would be singled out while trying to board, and I would cause embarrassment to him. If it were just me by myself I probably wouldn’t have worried so much, but I didn’t want to embarrass my husband. All these thoughts went on for 6 months! I did manage to get flights where it was just 2 seats, so that it would only be us together, therefore not crowding anyone else, except the last flight out of LAX. It was 3 seats on each side and the seats were small. The seat belt was very long though, (longer than any of the others) which helped some, I could at least breathe. It was almost a 4 hour flight back home and I wasn’t able to move an inch. I had my poor husband crammed in the middle, (such a good sport) and I had the aisle seat. I cannot tell you how glad I was to hear that we were cleared for landing in Nashville, and I could get off that plane!

    I did manage to make it through the whole ordeal without being embarrassed or shamed, but I am not going to fly again anytime soon. We have another meeting to go to in May in Dallas, but we’re driving. My hubs has no idea why, he just knows that we are driving. (he was pretty oblivious to everything I was going through)… lol

    So, in a not so short way.. I’m telling you I understand why you didn’t fly. I’m not going through it again unless I miraculously drop 80 lbs. or I get rich and can afford 1st class.

    Don’t beat yourself up.. your definitely not alone!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    We missed you oodles and I’m sorry to hear this, but I understand why you stayed home. My last plane trip was a wake up call to me to make some changes as the seatbelt was at the end of its tautness and VERY uncomfortable. It was on one of those smaller planes, too 🙁 No worries though – I’ll see you in Savannah in June.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Kenlie – I am so sorry! I cannot even imagine what you are going through – I do know that you are so very, very brave. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • Reply
    Sarah S
    October 15, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    *hugs* as you know – I know how you feel.
    Looking forward to seeing you soon for a real hug xxx

  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    I am a new follower. I am down 30 pounds and stuck and frustrated. I am bummed you did not go but I completely understand. I believe in you!!!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    You were greatly missed. I cannot wait to see you in June.

  • Reply
    October 16, 2013 at 9:43 am

    I sympathise SO much. My flight last night was delayed for two hours because of technical problems, and the front row seats I’d prebooked for my husband and me together were reallocated, and we ended up in separate rows halfway down the plane. Obviously I couldn’t admit that the reason I was so so upset was because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do my seat belt up, or that I’d make the person in the middle seat uncomfortable. Luckily neither of those was actually a problem, but every time I fly I’m a bit more scared, and right now I never want to get on a plane again, ever.

  • Reply
    Deb Roby
    October 16, 2013 at 11:14 am

    We missed you.

  • Reply
    Penny S
    October 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Bravo to you for being able to write so openly and honestly about this. You write with such clarity that I can feel the raw emotion of fear. Hang in there–you are steps away from reaching any goal that you set for yourself. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 16, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Sending you lots of love..I noticed that you were not there and posting on twitter from home. I am sorry you had to miss it-but the group is amazing and we are always gong to be 100% supportive

  • Reply
    October 16, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    I so understand and hurt with you…

  • Reply
    October 17, 2013 at 2:32 am

    So I have been paranoid about this for years. When we flew to Vegas for our wedding the seat belt was very snug on the way down I was so concerned on the way home that i tried to convince my husband that would should road trip it home that was almost 5 years ago now we are thinking of taking a trip in the next 6months and I’m already freaking out.. Thank you for opening up about it. you are not alone.

  • Reply
    October 21, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    I’m sure that did feel pretty defeating, considering how much progress you’ve made, how much you’ve stood up for yourself & others with this issue, and that your weight held you back.

    I think most of us reading your blog can totally relate…I sure can.

    Good job airing it and moving forward Kenlie!

  • Reply
    October 21, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    I thank you. I fly exclusively Southwest and up until this year my husband and I have always bought 3 seats. Southwest has recently changed their policy. Now all you have to do is ask for a 2nd seat at the gate and they give you one free of charge. I have flown 6 times since the change and I love it. I think of you every time I get on the plane and I thank you. I know you are the reason this change has been made!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    First of all, thank you. Your posts about your experiences have helped by tremendously.

    I have not flown for over 20 years, partly because of finances as a single mom, but in recent years mostly because of my size. After reading your posts I decided to take a chance and go to the convention in Salt Lake this month. I will be flying JetBlue and am hoping for the best, but because of tips you have given I feel much more confident about this trip. I just wanted you to know that you are helping others and are an amazing person!

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