“And no I shouldn’t need to ask for an extender,” Bader captioned the clip. “It should just be easy!”
This isn’t the first time that Bader has criticized the airline. In October 2021, she took to TikTok to say that while she usually loves flying Delta, during a trip from Los Angeles to New York she noticed that something was different about the seat belts.
“I’ve always loved Delta, it’s my No. 1 airline,” she said. “But their new planes have way shorter seat belts. … I went to put my seat belt on and it legitimately did not go around my body.”
According to a chart on The Points Guy, Delta’s seat belt length is 40 to 45 inches and, although there’s a note that this isn’t specified by the airline, the seat belt extender “appears to be” 25 inches.
Of the eight airlines listed in the chart, Delta’s seat belts are on the shorter end of the spectrum. JetBlue’s seat belts are 45 inches, while American Airlines’ are listed as being 45 to 47 inches — not including the seat belt extenders in both cases.
Bader, in her October TikTok, said that she had never known that airlines had a seat belt extender option.
“This was the first time in my life I took off without a seat belt,” Bader continued in the video. “I really felt embarrassed in the moment and just thinking, ‘OK, wow, there’s clearly something wrong with me.'”
Bader, who is a major voice in advocating body acceptance, also recognized that this thought — which found her blaming herself and her body — went against everything she stands for on her platforms.
“There are some things in life that are just so simple, and I think this is one of them,” Bader said. “Make longer seat belts — why is it an issue?”
Airplane seat belts are different from car seat belts. For one thing, the main goal of the seat belt in an airplane is not to save a passenger’s life during a crash. In the unlikely event a plane crash happens, there’s not much the seat belt can do. It’s not that airplane seat belts aren’t safe — they comply with FAA regulations — but they are really designed to keep travelers in place during takeoff, landing and turbulence.
In 2019, the Wall Street Journal wrote that “Airlines say less than 1% of passengers need seat belt extenders.” But one of Bader’s Instagram followers DMed her, as seen in a screenshot Bader shared in the 2021 TikTok, saying “I’m a size 12-14 and Delta seat belts don’t fit me.”
“I’m more of a 16, 18 at this point,” Bader responded. “So, yeah, if it doesn’t fit me and doesn’t fit someone smaller than me…”
The International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education found that the average American woman clocks in at between a size 16 and a size 18. A size 18 has a waist of roughly 43 inches and a 46-inch low hip, which is not comfortably accommodated by the reported length of Delta’s seat belt. The average American woman, according to a 2018 study that surveyed 5,500 women, has a waist of about 37.5 inches.
“WHY IS ASKING FOR AN EXTENDER EVEN A THING,” another TikTok, Chris Klemens, commented on Bader’s video. “JUST MAKE THE BELTS MORE ACCOMODATING.”
“They just need to put [an extender] in the pocket of every seat,” a commenter wrote. “It’s not that hard!”
“This is why I am always so nervous to fly,” another observed.
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