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Overweight? Here’s how to find which airlines have widest seats

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Written by editor

If you are an overweight traveler flying coach and are worried about being charged for two seats by United Airlines or any other airline, here’s one tip — certain aircraft and certain airlines have w

If you are an overweight traveler flying coach and are worried about being charged for two seats by United Airlines or any other airline, here’s one tip — certain aircraft and certain airlines have wider seats than others in both domestic and international coach.

United Airlines announced this week that it will join Southwest and Delta in enforcing more strictly a policy of charging overweight passengers double if they can’t comfortably fit into one seat. The airline also could bump an overweight passenger if the flight is sold out and no extra seats are available.

To find out in advance the width of the seat on a flight, go to www.seatguru.com and click “charts.” You can sort by seat width, a particular flight, a type of aircraft , by airline or by type of service (such as international economy or domestic business class.)

The difference can be as much as 2 inches in seat width.

By far, the widest seats in coach on international flights are the 19-inch wide seats on Singapore and Qatar airlines. Most other international flights boast 17 to 18 inches wide seats in coach, depending on the airline.

On domestic flights, a very general rule is that Airbus aircraft seem to have wider seats than older Boeing jets, and the widest of all is the small Embraer ERJ 175 or 190 jet, with 18.25-inch wide seats. Frontier and Hawaiian Airlines — and certain United aircraft — have 18-inch wide seats. Spirit Airlines uses Airbus aircraft; its seats are 17.8 inches wide. Seats on Delta/Northwest generally are17.2″ wide.

It may not seem like a lot, but if you are shopping for flights and think an extra half inch may make the difference between your fitting in the seat (armrest down, seatbelt with extender buckled) and having to buy a second seat, do your homework.