The latest in airline knock-off gear: Seatbelt extenders

I probably wouldn’t believe this story if I hadn’t actually read the FAA briefing memo about it myself. It seems that there is a growing problem with uncertified seatbelt extenders being used by passengers on commercial flights in the United States. Apparently people are taking the BYOB mantra to mean bring your own belt.

Here’s part of what the FAA has to say on the matter:

Operators should be aware that seat belt extenders are being marketed to the public for their personal use while traveling. These extenders are marketed as "FAA PMA approved." Some are categorized as specific to each airline and others are sold under the heading "Universal, adjustable & FAA-safe" and are sold "for use on all airlines." While these extenders may have a label that indicates they are FAA-approved and conform to TSO-C22g, they are not inspected and maintained under each airline’s FAA-accepted CAMP and should not be used.

For around $40 you, too, can purchase your very own extension.


And the vendors will claim that they are FAA certified, even though that’s not at all true. Even if it were certified upon leaving the factory it wouldn’t be once you bought it unless you institute an FAA-certified maintenance and inspection process.

The most interesting part of this is that there is apparently a market for these. I know that, in general, our society is getting larger and fitting in to the seats is harder for many. But the airlines are still stocking these on their planes, aren’t they? Has there been a rash of stories I missed recently regarding passengers who were offloaded because the airline was unable to provide them with an extender? Or are these passengers trying to avoid drawing attention to themselves for some other reason, like the fact that many airlines don’t allow exit row passengers to use one?

I really don’t understand why folks think they need to be buying their own extenders to fly. And the FAA seems pretty keen on not letting them. I wonder if there will be crack-downs on false advertising claims, too.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Confused. I’ve never seen an airline not give one of these free of charge to a passenger who needed it. Plus they are usually discreet about it too. I love the clueless travelers.

  2. I guess it saves the embarrassment of having to ask. Though the $40 may be better spent on a good nutrition book

  3. The issue is asking for one. As someone who often needs one, it’s embarrassing (and they often forget to bring one, so you have to ask multiple times).

    Couple that with having a neighbor who is probably already unhappy sitting next to a fattie, sometimes not needing to call more attention to oneself is worth $40.

  4. Do they sell extra large first class pajamas on Amazon too? 😉 Don’t want to hold up a flight or anything.

  5. I think this was a very snarky post. Why were you inspired to address this? It seemed to reek of an under-tone of making fun of large people just enough to deny it if someone called you out on it.

    Do you even really care if someone else desires to buy their own seat belt extension, for whatever the reason?

  6. @Hank – “Why were you inspired to address this?” Because it’s a travel blog? And I don’t see anything in WA’s post that could be considered snarky. Your response, on the other hand……

  7. If you need a seatbelt extender, all you have to do is gesture with your fists together (like you’re holding the ends of a seat belt pressing the parts together) and every FA I’ve ever known understood the gesture and was discreet about delivering the extender.

    I have looked into buying one in the past (out of curiosity), but there are about six configurations of belt in active use, plus I don’t know that the hardware is up to the quality that airlines use. Personally, I’d rather not become a ballistic missile in the cabin, so I let the airlines take care of my seat belt needs.

  8. I was actually on a flight out of Reno that had to taxi back to the gate because there weren’t enough seatbelt extenders on the plane for eveyone who needed one, and this wasn’t discovered until we had already left the gate.

  9. There’s so many seriously obese people flying today that the airlines really need to get together and work out solutions to this issue.

    Seatbelt extenders should be banned for those who purchase a single seat. If you can’t fit in a single seat without one, you are going to offend at least one other person on the flight. I’m tired of us who resist gorging ourselves through life being discomforted by obese people on all forms of public transportation. They have gauges at boarding gates to keep people from lugging trunks as carry-ons – we need similar metric devices for people.

    Obesity is a life choice. There is no free food. People who buy SUVs can’t fit in parking spaces for compacts. People who own large boats have to purchase larger slips. SUV-sized people should have to pay for their…largess.

  10. I know a beautiful piano bar singer who’s rather large. I once sat next to her on a flight home from europe. she carried her own seat belt extender – when I asked why she had her own extender, she said she found it humiliating to ask for one. She was honest and genuine.

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