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Hints from Heloise: Seat-belt extender wasn’t OK with FAA

DEAR HELOISE: I am a large man who travels a lot. When flying, I need to use a seat-belt extender. I purchased one online that claimed to be “FAA-approved.” I thought it would be easier to carry my own than to constantly have to ask an attendant for one on a plane.

I was told that I could not use the one I purchased. I wanted to warn other travelers so they do not waste their money on these seat-belt extenders.

Jay, via email

DEAR JAY: Thank you for writing and wanting to share this information with my readers, as well as saving them money on an item they cannot use. SHAME on the websites and companies selling these supposed FAA-approved seat-belt extenders!

The reason the airline and the Federal Aviation Administration have this regulation is really for your safety. The safety-belt extenders (and all safety belts on an airplane) are checked and inspected on a regular basis to make sure they are working properly. Who knows what the one you bought (and those many others have bought) is made from? It might or might not work correctly when it needs to. Trust me, you want it to work! I’ve been on many a flight where the air gets “choppy,” and if I was not fastened in by a legitimate seat belt, I’d have a bumped noggin and probably worse.

Here’s a hint to help you and the airline: When you make your reservation and get your seat assignment, request a seat-belt extender then, and at every step along the way: Tell the agent at the gate about your request to see if it has been noted. Mention it to the flight attendant when boarding, and he or she will quietly and professionally take care of your request. Safe travels!


P.S.: Readers, have you bought a bogus seat-belt extender? If so, tell me your experience so I can spread the word.

DEAR HELOISE: Every time I hear of someone being lost in the woods while camping, hiking or mountain climbing in the snow, I think the simple way to solve this problem is for everyone to wear a whistle. I can’t stop thinking of two guys caught in a blizzard. They were close to being rescued, but no one could see them. You can hear a whistle a long way away. Put it on a key chain and attach it to your shirt or belt loop.

Gina D., Bentonville, Ark.

DEAR HELOISE: Back during a blizzard in Massachusetts, we lost electrical power for a week. The following hint saved our food and kept the kids busy: They filled buckets with snow, and we filled the washing machine. Everything from the freezer and refrigerator went into the washing machine. The food was saved, and cleanup was easy.

Connie, Now in Florida

Send a great hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 79500, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.