Maybe you are a pregnant woman flying from New York to London. Maybe you’re an, let’s be honest, overweight individual flying from San Francisco to Shanghai. Whatever the reason and wherever your destination, the standard seat belt length just isn’t enough for you, especially for those long transoceanic flights. Not to worry though, we’ve got a solution for that. Here are 9 of the best airplane seat belt extenders to make sure you spend your next flight in utmost comfort. Short on time? We think this set is the best choice.
It is no secret that airline seats are strictly hierarchal, with a massive difference between the first class and economy class flight experiences.
In first class, you can stretch out, sip a mimosa, and bask in the world of Jet Set luxury.
In economy class, half the time you’re just happy to escape the Seinfeldian experience of being packed in amongst sick passengers, screaming babies, and any number of other airborne indignities.
Economy class airline seats are notoriously narrow. This can be a huge problem if you are pregnant, overweight, or otherwise need more space than economy class airline seats typically allow.
That’s why an increasing number of individuals faced with this dilemma are turning to seat belt extenders. These are just what they sound like – belt extenders designed to give a bit more room when fastening airline seat belts that might otherwise be too snug for pregnant or overweight people.
Best Airplane Seat Belt Extenders Types
There are two basic types of airplane seat belt extenders – Type A and Type B. Type A corresponds to most airlines, and Type B is for Southwest Airlines and any other airlines that may use their seat belts.
Deluxe combo seat belt extenders are able to work with either model.
Some of the best seat belt extenders on the market for these various types include:
Best Seat Belt Extender for All Airlines (Type A + B)
1. Airplane Seat Belt Extender 2-Pack
- CARRY YOUR OWN EXTENDER ON EVERY AIRLINE...
- WORKS ON ALL MAJOR AIRLINES - The Type A...
- CARRYING CASES AND OWNER'S CARDS - These...
One of the best things about this seat belt extender is its ease of use. It does not require any special setup or installation to use. All you have to do is click it into place, strap it around your waist, and you’re good to go.
This seat belt extender is highly adjustable. It can stretch out to a maximum of 24 inches or a minimum of 6 inches. The entire unit is also small enough to be easily portable, which is hugely important given that it is designed specifically for air travel.
This seat belt extender is FAA approved for use with Type B seat belts, is also compatible with Type A seat belts, and is E4 safety certified.
2. Mirone Adjustable Airplane Seat Belt Extenders Extension
- One black seatbelt extender compatible...
- 2017 improved version. The seatbelts are...
- Both Seatbelt extenders are easily...
This offering from Mirone comes with two separate seat belt extenders. One is a Type A seat belt extender, which is compatible with most US Type A aircraft seat belts as well as many international airlines. The other is a Type B extender, which is specifically designed for Southwest Airlines.
Both seat belts are made from high-strength polyester and are highly durable. They are also able to withstand as much as 3000 pounds of pressure. The seat belts themselves offer a great deal of coverage, are capable of extending out to a maximum length of 32 inches, and are E9 safety certified.
These seat belts may not fit with every first-class seat, as those often have different setups than economy-class seats. However, given how much roomier first-class tends to be anyway, this shouldn’t be too much of a drawback.
3. Airplane Seatbelt Extenders Premium 2-Pack
- COMBO PACK: Includes BOTH: TYPE A...
- 2020 Upgraded Color for Southwest Belt...
- You can relax, knowing that you have...
One of the most overlooked factors that people fail to consider when looking into seat belt extenders for airplanes is how they’re going to carry them around. They can take up lots of space in a backpack, not to mention the issues they might cause with TSA metal detectors.
With these offerings from journeyxl, that liability is turned into a plus with the inclusion of a surprisingly spacious soft felt zipper pouch. This allows you to carry your seat belt extenders around with ease while also having them handy for security check-ins.
This combo pack comes with color-coded Type A and Type B seat belt extenders, both of which are manufactured from sturdy 45# steel.
Best Seat Belt Extender for All Airlines Except Southwest (Type A)
4. Airplane Seat Belt Extender (AmSafe)
- CARRY YOUR OWN EXTENDER - If you're...
- ALMOST ALL MAJOR AIRLINES - The Type A...
- CARRYING CASE AND OWNER'S CARD - This...
These offerings from AmSafe are designed to work with most seat belt setups in the United States and abroad. They are specifically designed for use on commercial airlines, are E4 safety certified, and have enough strength to support 3000 pounds of pressure.
These seat belt extenders can be extended out to a maximum length of 24 inches or can collapse back in again to a minimum size of 7 inches. This allows you lots of “wiggle room” in terms of how far you extend it out, giving you tons of space.
This unit also comes with a carrying case and owner’s card, the latter of which can be shown to flight attendants and airport security as needed to prove these are your personal seat belt extenders.
5. Adjustable 7-24″ Airplane Seat Belt Extender
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- SAFETY FIRST - Our Airline Seat Belt...
This is another example of a highly versatile seat belt extender. It is compatible with most airlines in the US and abroad that use Type A seat belt designs, features that all-important E4 safety certification, and can withstand more than 3000 pounds, thereby offering extra security.
In addition, this is another option that offers both a carrying case and an owner’s card. Both of these features make it that much easier to get your seat belt extenders past security. They can also help you gain clearance for their usage from the airlines.
Add to that fast shipping times, and it isn’t hard to see why these are some of the most popular seat belt extenders in the market.
6. E4 Safety Certified Airplane Seatbelt Extensions (2-Pack)
- ADDS EXTRA BREATHING ROOM - Over the...
- CONVENIENT CARRYING CASE - All Airplane...
- ALWAYS BE READY TO FLY - Whether you...
Here we have another example of the power of versatility at work, with these seat belt extenders being yet another option that is compatible with nearly all Type A seat belt setups across the globe. In addition, they feature #4 safety certification.
They come with a lovely carrying case to help with portability and security check issues, as well as an owner’s card.
While many seat belt extender options have these features, this offering sets itself apart with the quality of the case. If you are looking for a sturdy carrying case and seat belt extenders that are no less durable, these would be a great choice.
Best Airplane Seat Belt Extender for Southwest Only (Type B)
7. Airplane Seat Belt Extender (Seat Belt Extender Pros)
- FAA COMPLIANT - The safety tested...
- DESIGNED FOR SOUTHWEST AIRLINES - The...
- INCLUDES CARRYING CASE & OWNER'S CARD -...
Southwestern Airlines’ seat belt setup differs from most others, requiring special extenders such as this option from Seat Belt Extender Pros. They are specially designed to work with Southwest’s unique seats, adding between 7 and 24 inches of length depending on how far you choose to extend them.
As with other models you get a highly-portable carrying case as well as an owner’s card for ease of use in terminals, on the plane, and carrying your seat belts to all points in between.
This is another option that is easy to set up. Simply click the seat belt extenders into the special Southwest seat belt areas and you’re cleared for takeoff.
8. Airplane Seatbelt Extender Southwest
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The first thing that stands out to you about this model is its all-around superior sturdiness and quality. The belt is E4 certified and is likewise cleared for use by the FAA. It is made from a special blend of polyester, nylon, and steel.
These materials combine to create a unique mixture of sturdiness and comfort. The belt can extend outward to 25 inches and collapse back into a size of 6 inches.
In addition, it is highly portable, and comes with a lifetime warranty. All in all, this is a highly sturdy and versatile Type B seat belt extender.
9. Airplane Seatbelt Extender (Blue, for Southwest Airlines)
- Southwest Airlines Seatbelt Extender...
- 2019 Upgraded Color: Dark Blue, Matches...
- Relax knowing you have your own...
This is yet another great example of a seat belt extender that is specially made to work with Southwest’s unique seat belts. They fit like a glove, snap into place, and stay there for the duration of the flight, ensuring that you can fly with comfort and peace of mind.
A nice quirk of these seat belt extenders is that they are designed to match Southwest’s interior with their dark blue color scheme. This can make them seem more innocuous and make it less obvious that you are using extenders.
They are made from 45# and rank highly in terms of long-term durability.
Seat Belt Extender FAQ
Why Does Southwest Have a Different Type of Seat Belt?
Let’s imagine that rather than an international flight to Shanghai that San Francisco flights with Southwest Airlines are headed to Los Angeles instead. You think you’re in the clear, having already bought that seat belt extender for that other flight.
Unfortunately, not all airlines design their seats and seat belts the same way. In particular, Southwest Airlines stands out for having a different design than their contemporaries. This means that seat belt extenders that work for other airlines may not work for them.
Why is Southwestern Airlines different? Only they know the full answer to that question. They may feel that their seat belt design provides better comfort, or perhaps it is more economical for them.
Either way, you need to make sure that your seat belt extender is compatible with the kind of seat belt you’ll be using. As mentioned, Type A corresponds to most airlines and Type B with Southwestern, so be on the lookout for seat belt extenders that are “Type B Compatible.”
In addition, some seat belt extenders are Combo or Universal options and can work with either Type A or Type B. Either way, you need to make absolutely sure your seat belt extender will fit a Southwestern Airlines seat before buying it.
Who Needs a Seat Belt Extender?
As alluded to, the two groups who most commonly need seat Belt extenders are those who are medically overweight or obese as well as pregnant mothers.
Flying while being overweight can be challenging.
Even more than overweight individuals, pregnant women should never have to suffer the indignity and discomfort of being squeezed into an airline seat that’s too narrow.
Pregnancy already comes with its own set of aches, pain, cramps, and other sources of discomfort. An airline seat should not be among them.
In the same way it is polite to defer to pregnant women on the bus or subway and give up their seats for them, allowing them extra comfort on a plane seems natural.
What’s more, having a comfortable airline seat is more than a matter of comfort for pregnant women. While we all approach pregnancy different ways, having one’s pregnant belly and embryo squeezed by an overtight airplane strap probably isn’t a good idea.
Being strapped in too tightly can heighten the feelings of claustrophobia that accompany a fear of flying. If you are already anxious about flying, you’ll want to do everything you can to lessen the physical and psychological pressure, and extra-comfy extended seat belt extenders can do just that.
Finally, you may simply be sick and tired of feeling cramped and uncomfortable on long flights. If you can’t afford to upgrade to first class, or don’t have the mini fortune often required to do so, seat belt extenders can be the next best option.
How to Use Airplane Seat Belt Extenders
The basic idea behind a seat belt extender is quite simple. You either slip it over the existing seat belt or connect it to the seat and surrounding area via other means.
However, determining how to use your airplane seat extender can prove surprisingly tricky. Airlines have different seat belt setups, and so while in theory it may seem easy to simply snap an extender into place, in practice it can be more complex.
You want to make sure that you are not strapping yourself in too tightly. After all, avoiding that is a big reason why you are opting for extenders in the first place. Even so, your seat belt needs to be able to be at least somewhat firm around your waist.
It may, thus, be worth your time to “practice” connecting and using your seat belt extender before you use it on your next flight. Get a feel for how tight is tight enough, and the best way to make your particular model as comfortable as possible.
Last, but not least, as with any seat belt, you need to make sure that you hear the telltale snap of the buckle and belt coming into contact. This is the sign that you have attached your seat belt extender parts correctly.
Are Airline Seat Belt Extenders Legal?
This is the point at which we start to get into technicalities. While seat belt extenders are legal, since 2012 the FFA has been cracking down on which are permissible and in keeping with safety regulations.
You should, therefore, research any seat belt extenders ahead of time to make sure that they are in compliance with FAA regulations.
One FAA rule that is pertinent here is the fact that seat belts cannot “significantly interfere” with adjacent seats.
On the one hand, that does not entirely rule out the use of seat belt extenders.
On the other hand, what constitutes “significant interference” in this context?
That is something on which the FAA is vague, and likely intentionally so, as it allows airlines some leeway to decide what type of seat belt extenders, if any, they wish to allow on their flights.
It is worth noting that every airline has its own rules about seat belt extenders. For example, United Airlines requires you to pre-reserve seat belt extenders.
You’ll, thus, want to be aware of federal regulations as well as the rules set down by the airline with which you are flying before you make your purchase.
Can You Buy Seat Belt Extenders at the Airport?
This is another area where we get into technicalities. While you may technically be able to purchase a seat belt extender or even purchase a whole other seat at the gate if your flight isn’t filled yet, neither of these options are likely to be too attractive.
While it’s less expensive to fly than ever before, buying a last-minute ticket can be costly, especially for an international flight. Buying a seat belt extender once on the flight can be challenging, given how busy flight attendants are taking requests and orders from everyone else.
There is also the shame factor at work. While it is not fair to be shamed for your weight, and there should obviously not be any stigmatization of pregnant women or their needs, the fact remains that society does discriminate against these groups.
Calling attention to yourself by trying to book an extra seat or asking for a seat belt extender in public can, thus, be embarrassing.
That’s why buying a seat belt extender can be a better option. It is more discreet, and allows you to select a belt that is perfectly matched to your comfort needs ahead of time.