When Saibra Noel boards a plane she has to endure the stares of her fellow passengers – revealing she’s even had some of her fellow travelers complain to flight attendants after finding out she was their seatmate.
The plus-size traveler often shares travel hacks, recommendations and vlogs her journey on TikTok, but she also documents some of her confronting experiences.
The 32-year-old admitted while she loves to see the world, it can be difficult to travel with a bigger body – particularly when flying in tiny seats.
According to Saibra, she’s had other passengers calling the flight attendant when she has been seated next to them and has had an onslaught of cruel taunts online over her size.
Pus-size traveler Saibra Noel often shares travel hacks, recommendations and vlogs her journey on TikTok
Saibra even saying she’s even had some passengers call a flight attendant over her size, and now books two seats when she flies economy
‘My travel experience looks a bit different than someone who doesn’t live in a larger body,’ the Los Angeles jet-setter told NeedToKnow.co.uk.
‘I require certain accommodations for safe and comfortable travels,’ the keen traveler continued, adding she now just wants to get from ‘point A to B safely and comfortably.’
‘At this point in my life, I don’t feel any type of way about asking for a seat belt extender or needing an extra seat,’ she explained.
The frequent flyer added she had the same right to be on a plane as everybody else.
‘An airline’s decision to pack us in there like sardines is not a reason for me to feel bad about not fitting within those arbitrary lines,’ she argued.
Although she’s confident now, Saibra admitted she hadn’t always been confident to ask for extra space on her trips.
‘We are conditioned to feel bad about not fitting into those spaces so of course my self-esteem took a hit initially,’ she reflected.
‘I have had people call the flight attendant at the horror of discovering I was their seatmate. They always worked it out and I was never kicked off the plane.’
Although she’s confident now, Saibra admitted she hadn’t always been confident to ask for extra space on her trips
The 32-year-old admitted while she loves to see the world, it can be difficult to travel with a bigger body – particularly when flying in tiny seats
The frequent flyer added she had the same right to be on a plane as any other passenger
Saibra recalled the first time she flew with some extra space, saying she had tipped a member of the airline staff and they offered to give her extra space for her comfort.
‘I still think that is the nicest way anyone has ever called me fat but I was very conflicted about whether I should be offended or not,’ she admitted.
‘However, with this policy I got to pre-board and, for the first time in a while, the anxiety I would get every time I travelled was gone.’
The content creator said with the extra space, some of her worries had been eased and she had less to stress about.
‘I no longer had to worry about someone trying to get me kicked off the plane because my leg touched theirs,’ she pointed out.
‘That was a relief and I never looked back.’
Saibra has also become more confident in standing up for herself and what she needs.
‘If anything, every time I ask for the customer of size policy and for a seat belt extender, I am proud of myself for no longer feeling embarrassed and being able to advocate for myself,’ she acknowledged.
Now when she flies, Saibra books two seats when she flies economy.
As she documents her experience as a plus-sized traveler online, she often has to deal with hateful comments – but she’s determined to not let trolls stop her from planning trips.
The avid TikTok creator has plans to make her way to South America, Rio, Australia, and Antarctica
The content creator urges people to ‘not let fear or embarrassment keep you from traveling’
One post which went viral with almost 20,000 views has gained hundreds of likes and comments from social media users
In a clip shared to TikTok, which has almost 20,000 views, Saibra filmed herself sitting in her seat on the aircraft, captioning the video: ‘POV: You get an extra seat on the plane.’
The post has gained hundreds of likes and comments from social media users.
‘That should be a wake up call,’ one user admonished.
‘You gotta fly on a cargo plane,’ another user taunted.
Someone else wrote: ‘It’s not something to be proud of.’
Whereas other users were supportive of Saibra, with one user declaring her an ‘icon.’
Another wrote: ‘I loooove this!’
The TikTok creator has plans to make her way to South America, Rio, Australia, and Antarctica, urging people to ‘not let fear or embarrassment keep you from traveling.’
‘If that is something you want, go do it,’ she encouraged.
‘If you need a seat belt extender, ask for it. If you need an extra seat, get it.
‘Unlearn the shame the world has made you feel for needing those accommodations because it is holding you back from the desires of your heart.
‘You are worthy of travel at whatever weight you are right now!’
The content creator said with the extra space on planes, she had less to stress about
Saibra encourages everyone to travel, saying: ‘I am proud of myself for no longer feeling embarrassed and being able to advocate for myself’
Saibra’s words come as a recent change was made by Southwest Airlines, which allows obese passengers to get free extra seats.
The policy states that customers who ‘encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat(s)’ may purchase however many extra seats they need, which will then be refunded at check-in.
The change has provoked mixed feedback among customers.
While some body-positive customers have praised the policy for allowing those with obesity to travel more easily, critics say it’s ‘pandering’ to very overweight people – and gives them an unfair advantage.
On social media, many have pointed out that free space is not available to customers who are very tall and need extra legroom, those traveling with medical equipment or are wheelchair user.
Some customers have criticized Southwest Airlines for the ‘ridiculous’ policy, arguing it gives overweight passengers free seats to accommodate their size.