Flying Plus Size: How to Get a Second Seat for Free

Ever wanted more room while flying? Armrests digging in? Squeezing your arms to your chest to avoid encroaching into the next seat? You may want to get a second seat for free!

Many people have anxiety about flying. Its pretty common actually. But something that isn’t talked about enough is the ADDITIONAL stress and anxiety that plus size travelers may experience when traveling. I have had some very long flights made worse by anxiety and/or lack of space.

From uncomfortable seats to small doorways to size discrimination, there are many reasons a plus size person may be anxious about their upcoming trip. But, if you are worried about being too big for a single seat on an airplane, Southwest has an option for you.

Read on to find out how to get a second seat for free on Southwest Airlines by utilizing Southwest Airlines’ Customer of Size Policy.

What is the Southwest Customer of Size Policy?

According to the Southwest Airlines Site:

Customers who encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s) may proactively purchase the needed number of seats prior to travel in order to ensure the additional seat(s) is available. You may contact us for a refund of the cost of additional seating after travel.

This allows travelers who need more space to purchase an additional ticket before departure. They will then be refunded the full price of the second ticket after travel.

What if I can’t afford to buy a second ticket up front?

Additionally, there is another option for those who wish to use the customer of size policy. HOWEVER, according to those who have used this method, it is less of a ‘guarantee’. Southwest states the following:

Customers of size who prefer not to purchase an additional seat in advance have the option of purchasing just one seat and then discussing their seating needs with the Customer Service Agent at their departure gate. If it is determined that a second (or third) seat is needed, they will be accommodated with a complimentary additional seat(s).

aisle view of an airplane

Purchasing an Extra Seat Online

It’s pretty easy to reserve your extra seat online. When buying tickets online, the second ticket simply uses the addition of XS in the middle name to let the airline know you are utilizing the customer of size policy.

Example, if I was flying and booking a second seat using customer of size (first // middle // last):

Passenger 1: Callie // Nicole // Richards

Passenger 2: Callie // Nicole XS // Richards

If the passenger has no middle name, just XS will work.

For full details and step-by-step instructions, visit the Southwest website.

Checking In Using Customer of Size Policy

In order to be able to get a refund after your travel, you will need to check in with a customer service agent at the airport at the beginning of your flight.

According to Southwest:

Domestic U.S. Travel: Customers of size may check in online or at a Self-Service Check-in kiosk to reserve their boarding positions, but they must see a Customer Service Agent to receive the required documents and be eligible for a refund after the flight.

For instructions regarding international flights, booking over the phone, and more, visit the Southwest site.

how to get a second seat for free

The customer of size policy isn’t perfect, and people have had different experiences. HOWEVER, its a start. The fact that Southwest is working to be more inclusive and make sure that travelers are comfortable is a step in the right direction.

I have spoken to people who have secured a free second seat on their flight using the customer of size policy. They had overwhelmingly positive experiences. Many were especially grateful that they were allowed to pre-board to make sure they had time to settle in and use the placard indicating the adjacent seat was unavailable to other passengers.

Have you used this service before? If so, tell us what you thought in the comments. I’m excited to hear from you!

I hope you found this helpful and will consider getting a second seat for free using the customer of size policy on your next Southwest flight! Share or save this for later on Pinterest!

flying while plus size how to get a second seat for free
Callie Richards

I'm Callie, a Southern California based body-positive fashion and travel blogger who helps women discover style and travel that FITS their bodies and their lifestyles so they can live their best, most authentic lives! I test and then share the products and experiences that respect diversity and inclusiveness so that you can shop and travel with confidence without all the research!