Just when you thought flying couldn’t get any more humiliating and uncomfortable for a fatty, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) drops a new one on us. They are now saying that people who need seatbelt extenders on planes should only use the ones supplied by the airline.
They claim that they are concerned for everyone’s safety. Okay, that’s fair, isn’t it?
The FAA is worried that your personal seatbelt extender is not FAA Certified. But Bill Fabrey (Amplestuff) points out that the seatbelt extenders he has been selling for over fifteen years are made by the same manufacturer that the airlines use and are, indeed, FAA Certified. Whew, what a relief, right?
But, says the FAA, is your personal seatbelt extender well maintained? Because you know, us fatties, we don’t care enough about our own fat asses to not use a seatbelt extender that is frayed or stretched out.
Excuse me, but balls. As I’ve said before, fatties want to keep their own fat asses safe just as much as other people want to keep own asses safe.
So here is a sample of an airline seatbelt safety checklist, indicating your restraint should be replaced or repaired:
WEBBING: Frayed, torn, creased or crushed; Severe fading or discoloring
HARDWARE: Hooks or end fittings checked for excess wear; bent, inoperable springs or latches; corrosion or rust; Buckle inoperational; connector at improper angle; buckle shows excess wear or deformity; Connector is not operational with buckle; connector shows excess wear or bending; corrosion or rust
STITCHES: Broken or missing stitches; Severe fading or discoloring; Inconsistent stitch pattern may indicate rewebbing by an unqualified company, and may be illegal or unsafe
TSO TAGS: TSO tags are missing or illegible; Age of TSO tag is 10 years or more
AmSafe, a major provider of airline seatbelts and extenders, recommends seatbelts/extender assemblies undergo a yearly inspection, offers the following checklist:
1.1 Insert connector into buckle. Connector engages.
1.2 Release connector by lifting the buckle cover. Connector releases. The buckle cover should return to the closed position.
1.3 Repeat step 1.1 and 1.2 four times The connector engages and the buckle cover returns to the closed position
1.4 Adjust webbing in the buckle by pulling on the free end of webbing. Webbing must adjust and should not exhibit excessive web fray or any cuts.
1.5 Repeat step 1.4 four times Webbing must adjust and should not exhibit excessive web fray or any cuts.
This is not rocket science, folks. Seems the average person can determine if their own extender meets the above criteria, and a flight attendant could quickly verify the same – all you are checking is (i) does it look okay; and (ii) does it work.
Also, the airlines still encourage the use of personal child restraint systems (CRS) for small children and infants. WTF?
All child restraint systems must bear the following two required labels:
1. This restraint system conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety conditions.
2. This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft. (in red lettering) (NOTE: Labels that indicate U.S. or Foreign Government approval or show the seat was manufactured under the standards of the United Nations are also valid.)
In addition to the standard CRS mentioned above, children between 22 to 44 pounds and 40 inches or less may use an Aircraft Safety Device (ACSD) for added security. Currently the AmSafe CARES Restraint is the only approved ACSD and must bear a label that reads:
FAA APPROVED IN ACCORDANCE WITH 14 CFR 21.302(d) APPROVED FOR AIRCRAFT USE ONLY
If the concern is that people may be using extenders that are not FAA certified, why not just require appropriate tags (as they do with CRS or ACSD)?
Now, I’m not the kind of person who is embarrassed about asking for a seatbelt extender; but some people find it very embarrassing. My experience, generally, is the flight attendant slips you the extender like you are participating in the delivery of some illicit goods – very hush-hush. However, some people have reported having flight attendants shouting to find out who needed the extender. Small wonder, many fatties prefer to carry their own extender.
And what happens if the airline doesn’t have enough seatbelt extenders on the plane? One of two things: Everyone will get to wait while the airline obtains more seatbelt extenders, or the person or persons who can’t buckle up will have to leave the plane. Yeah, that wouldn’t be humiliating.
Since I have never ever heard of and couldn’t find anything about someone being injured because a personal seatbelt extender did not work, I don’t buy all this “safety” happy-crappy.
So what’s really going on here? Who is pushing for this? Like flying isn’t stressful enough for fat folks.