Plus-size travel influencer calls for rideshare drivers to carry seatbelt extenders after petitioning for free plane seats for obese fliers

Jaelynn Chaney composite
"Every time I use a rideshare, I'm forced to go without a seatbelt because no belt extenders are available." Photo credit: @jaebaeofficial / TikTok / Instagram

A plus-size travel influencer who made headlines for claiming airlines should provide extra seats to accommodate obese passengers has once again sparked controversy - this time for saying rideshare drivers should be made to carry seatbelt extenders.

In a video shared with her 136,800 followers on TikTok, Jaelynn Chaney - who goes by the username Jae Bae on social media - argued that rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft should require all drivers to carry seatbelt extenders for plus-size people.

"Every time I use a rideshare, I'm forced to go without a seatbelt because no belt extenders are available. This is a common issue for many plus-size individuals," Chaney captioned the clip, which featured footage of her climbing into the passenger seat of a car. To illustrate her point, Chaney then showed herself sitting in the vehicle without a seatbelt. 

"This isn't just inconvenient - it's unsafe. It should be mandatory for rideshares to provide at least one seatbelt extender per vehicle," Chaney continued.   

"Companies should reimburse drivers for the cost, which averages around [US]$20. Although I always bring a 'universal' seatbelt extender with me, they often don't work. If each driver carried at least one seatbelt extender specifically fitted for their vehicle, this problem could be eliminated. Safety for all sizes SHOULD NOT be optional. Agree?" 

In New Zealand, seatbelt extenders are available from the likes of Repco, while Amazon also sells a range of adjustable extenders for cars and planes.   

However, many viewers were unsympathetic to Chaney's stance on the matter, with several pointing out that the onus was on her to bring a working extender, rather than calling on companies to enforce them.  

"I don't know about this one. Planes, yes, the seatbelts are incredibly small, but as someone who's been as big as a 4XL, seatbelts in cars are fine. If you need an extender, bring it!" one weighed in, while a second added: "This is an easy fix... just order a Comfort or XL ride. There are some things we larger folks can do for comfort. Also, as a rideshare driver, I have purchased seatbelt extenders only for them to be stolen. Now, if passengers refuse or are unable to buckle, I do not transport. Not worth the fines."  

A third was a little blunter in their response, commenting: "I don't care about your size or your appearance. Your entitlement is what bothers me. All of your videos are so selfish and egotistical, I don't believe you have the capacity to think of anyone else."  

"Not trying to be rude but if you need an extender to use a seatbelt in a car, that should be a sign to lock in and lose some weight," a fourth suggested.  

"As a rideshare driver and a plus-sized person... parents are responsible [for bringing] their own children's car seats. Bring your own extender," another said.

Chaney - who once claimed God has tasked her with advocating for plus-size people - uses her social media to highlight the alleged discrimination she faces day-to-day for her weight, as well as document the struggles many obese people encounter while travelling.

In a recent "dehumanising" incident at Chicago O'Hare airport, Chaney claimed staff offered no assistance when she and her wheelchair became stuck in a revolving door. The influencer is an ambulatory wheelchair user, which means she sometimes opts to use a wheelchair due to her health conditions, despite having mobility and the ability to walk.  

Last year, she petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to require all airlines in the US to provide free seats for plus-size passengers.   

"We're not asking for special treatment or luxury accommodations - we simply want enough space to travel comfortably and safely without fear or being discriminated against because of our size," she declared in a video that encouraged viewers to sign her petition.  

"As a plus-size traveller, I know firsthand how uncomfortable and unsafe it can be to squeeze into a tiny airplane seat. That's why I believe that every plus size traveller should have access to a free second, or even third seat on an airplane if needed."

In another viral video in 2022, Chaney documented a list of inconveniences plus-size people encounter while travelling by plane, including the tray table not opening properly, needing a seatbelt extender, having little to no room to move, narrow aisles, small bathrooms and getting pat down by security personnel at the airport.   

Chaney says the aim of her TikTok account, which currently boasts more than 136,800 followers and over six million likes, is to help "plus-size people explore the world confidently".