When it comes to traveling for weight loss surgery, one size does not fit all.

Plus-size and big and tall travelers face many challenges when they travel internationally on business or for healthcare access

So often, plus-size travelers face challenges because airline seats, bathrobes, hospital gowns and furniture in hotel rooms and other settings are designed for people of more diminutive stature. Plus size travelers face many discrimination practices from other travelers, airline and hotel staff, and even nurses and doctors who have pledged to compassion for everyone.

Tips for medical travel passengers and companion travelers of size

35+ year veteran medical tourism pioneer, Maria Todd (our CEO) warns that "passengers of size require special planning to be comfortable on flights of any duration and aircraft of any size from a commercial jet that seats 19 passengers to a huge 747 or DC 10."  You'll kick yourself for not simply trusting your Medical Tourism Journey Master® to find the best possible arrangements for your medical travel flights - especially after your procedure when you may feel discomfort from surgery, still have stitches in place, or experience nausea and need to use the facilities frequently.

Not all Airlines are Size-Friendly

If you don't travel often, you may not realize that some airlines are more size-friendly than others. We know which ones are and which ones are not. To be size-friendly, we ask in advance about their policies for passengers who need some extra room. Many airlines require that you be able to lower both armrests and buckle up your seatbelt (using one extender) and not encroach on other passenger's seating and arm space. Often, if you cannot fit, some airlines, like Southwest, for example, will require that you purchase an additional "comfort seat" which doubles the price but not the leg room or any other amenities. At that price, it may be more advantageous to upgrade to business class in a full size aircraft. The problem is, you'll only benefit from this if your entire flight itinerary is flown in full-service aircraft.

The standard width of most airline seats was 18 inches years ago. Now some of them, particularly Asian international carriers are smaller. In fact, seat widths vary from aircraft to aircraft and by airline to airline. We always check because even a smaller person who has had surgery may need more room just so that the stitches don't rub and give rise to risky complications after a surgery. Some airlines now offer a seat width of just 16.4 inches, one of the smallest in the industry. Hawaiian, Delta, and Allegiant are all 17 inches.  While you may find extra leg room in an emergency row, some airlines will not permit a passenger of size to sit in that row - considering the passenger or their companion of size to be "physically challenged".  Also, in emergency rows, the arm rests are usually fixed so if you are 6"7" tall, you may have more leg room, but if you are going after wider seat width, paying for premium economy may not yield the result you are looking for.

The Seat Act of 2017, a bill introduced by Reps. Cohen and Kinzinger, Senators Blumenthal, Schumer, Markey, Menendez and Feinstein would establish minimum seat sizes for the health and safety of US airline passengers. That won't help in other countries though so if your plans include a cross border medical travel journey, even if the Act passes, it may not help much unless you are booked on a US airline to your destination, not a code share flight on a foreign carrier.

If your row is full and there are other rows with two empty seats, ask the flight attendant if you can move "as a courtesy to your fellow seat mates" before they close the door of the aircraft for takeoff. As soon as the flight attendant knows that they are close to fully boarded, he or she may invite you to move to the other row and even advocate for you if another passenger tries to take it with ideas of stretching out on the flight.

If you need a seat belt extender, one way to assure you will always have one without calling attention to your situation is to buy one at Destination XL or on Amazon or Ebay.  They come in different lengths and models and fit about 97% of most airline and motor vehicles (for your rental car) manufactured after 2000. They simply click on to the existing seat belt assembly.  Full list price is about $40.

Arrive early for your flight and allow extra time for connections. We do this for all our clients, and we also book an electric cart or wheelchair when necessary. Make sure you visit the toilet at the airport so you don't have to use the tiny aircraft bathrooms. Some have no grab rails and are difficult to get up from a seated position.

When back at your seat, you may find that the tray table may not lay flat. Buy something to eat at the airport and a bottle of water, but don't place it in the seat back pocket of the seat in front of you. That's one of the dirtiest most unsanitary places on the plane. People put dirty diapers, airsickness bags and their dirty tissues in them when they have a cold.

At the hotel or resort, if we made your reservation, our inspection notes indicate if robes are provided and if so, if they have larger sizes.  We try them on or ask to see them during our inspections.  If we know that the resort or spa only has standard one-size-fits-most robes, your Medical Tourism Journey Manager®  may recommend that you purchase a spa robe and take it with you.  The alternative is to change in the treatment room at the spa.

In many parts of Asia, plus-size bodies are uncommon, so you may draw stares and face emotional discomfort.  If you have a choice among destinations, we may recommend a different destination for this reason. In any event, trust that when we bring up the subject, the reason is concern for your comfort and emotional well-being.  One of our staff members faced terrible rejection at the La Jolla Macy's shortly after her weight loss surgery at a nearby hospital when the women's department clerk said in a loud voice "Oh dearie, we don't stock sizes for your demographic." At Medical Tourism Journeys, we've never forgiven Macy's for the emotional distress that sent our client out the door in tears. And that happened in 2005, 12 years ago!

At Medical Tourism Journeys size acceptance is something that we are quite sensitive about. That's because whether you are traveling with us as a patient scheduled for weight loss surgery or for some other reason or are the companion traveler of one of our clients, we want to make sure we do everything in our power to ensure a comfortable, safe and delightful experience. Unlike many medical tourism companies you'll find online, with Medical Tourism Journeys, we believe our job is more than making a doctor's appointment for you at a place that offers less expensive medical and dental care. We advocate for you and our work begins long before you step on the aircraft and ends well after you've returned home.

We have decades of experience meeting special needs of medical travelers and their companions. We are the only medical tourism organizer firm trusted by more than 6000 hospitals and clinics to coordinate travel for their patients. Our CEO is a recognized industry leader having been awarded several lifetime industry achievement awards in medical tourism for her contributions to the industry for persons who want to travel for healthcare treatments and wellness services.

We'll take care of any arrangements you may require for scooters, wheelchairs, power chairs, oxygen (liquid, cylinder, and concentrator), specialized mobility equipment, hearing impaired equipment, Braille menus and patient information, seat lifts and shower chairs in hotels, seat belt extenders, sedan and van transfers, bariatric furniture rentals at hotels, dialysis appointments at every destination, and more. We'll also ensure that the hotel has everything you need in terms of special foods, an in-room refrigerator for smoothies and medications you'll need to have access to after your surgery, and more. We can arrange to coordinate rentals delivered to most of our Approved Medical Tourism and Wellness Destinations.  If a plan doesn't work out smoothly, a 24-hour emergency hotline is available to call for assistance.

At Medical Tourism Journeys, our experienced, professional travel planners will take care of all these details and so much more to make most trips easier on you, keep you  more comfortable, more enjoyable and at the lowest possible cost without wasting time or money on cost cutting substitutions that aren't worth the time, effort or aggravation.

How we can help you

Medical Tourism Journeys offers care coordination and complete travel planning to medical, wellness, dental and pharmacy tourism destinations all over the world.

We leverage our long established history and high volumes of travel arrangements to get your discounts that aren't available at other medical tourism websites. Approved healthcare and wellness providers are coupled with Approved Hotels in our network at various destinations around the world. When you call, you can inquire about our upcoming group and private tour packages for surgery, consultations, dialysis, spa and wellness programs to appealing destinations. Then let your Medical Tourism Journey Manager® advise all your options. We never just tell you to "get your own tickets" online or through a local travel agency. We have this policy for your safety, comfort and convenience. We don't make money on air travel reservations. What you pay goes directly to the airline. But we do it because it's the right thing to do.

Medical tourism travel planning and patient movement takes specialized training.

We choose the appropriate seating, meals and make arrangements throughout your entire flight itinerary for wheelchairs, oxygen access, storage of crutches or walkers inside the cabin, avoiding stairs, and connecting from flight to flight at huge international airport hubs that may require more than a mile walk to the next gate.

Your Medical Tourism Journey Manager® briefs you on what to expect, if you should have tip money ready for assistants, and if so, how much. They also make sure you have enough time to connect to your next flight if the wheelchair assistant is late arriving to collect you when the flight arrives without expecting you do sprint to the next flight if you are temporarily incapable of that kind of activity during your post-operative period.

Contact us any time, 24 hours per day to learn more about the tours we offer throughout the world several times each year for health and wellness and pharmacy tourism.

We arrange medical tourism journeys for your convenience wither you choose to travel with a group or alone, as a couple or as a family.  Your companion travelers are always welcome to join the group whether plan to visit with the doctor or just to participate on the tourist activities. Your Medical Tourism Journey Manager® will organize everything for you in advance - appointments, tours, hotels, transfers, and medical visits to the doctor and the pharmacy and an interpreter, if needed.  Ask about the kinds of tour packages we offer - from sedentary to active. Many of the activities on our tours are outdoors and may include hiking, biking, riding and climbing. At seasonal destinations, skiing is also available. Please advise your Medical Tourism Journey Manager® of your preferences when you call.

Your Medical Tourism Destination Coordinator will always be nearby and accessible from the time you land until the time you are ready to board your return flight home. While in flight, our travel coordinators keep an eye on your journey itinerary to take action if you miss a flight, are delayed or something else happens that may require rebooking or re-accommodation on a different flight and a hotel booking for a long layover.

Every Approved Hotel stay includes free Wi-Fi and strong internet connections. For smaller groups and family tours, we organize luxurious, private chauffeur-driven black sedans to carry you from place to place at your destination.  We also choose properties and tourism suppliers who will make you feel comfortable when you want to fall back on authentic comfort foods, native language TV and culturally aware staff to give you a break from the spectacular sights and sounds of the selected destination of your visit.

Payment for your Procedure and Medical Travel

Your Medical Tourism Journey Manager® also helps with payment arrangements. We would be pleased to verify with your insurance plan to determine in advance if your consultation with the doctor and your prescription costs (and possibly your related travel costs) will be covered by your insurance or employer. If the response is positive, your Medical Tourism Journey Manager® will obtain pre-authorization and pre-certification as may be required by your insurer.  If your insurer will not cover the procedure, Approved Providers and the Approved Pharmacies accept cash, check or credit card at the time of service or purchase.  Some of our US providers also participate in various financing programs - so please ask us what is available if special medical travel financing for your trip and medical procedure expenses would be helpful.

Learn more about how we can help you arrange your next medical tourism journey package.  Just complete the simple form below and one of our Medical Tourism Journey Managers® will follow up with you or your loved ones to get everything arranged in short order.

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