The Extend-ITs.com™ Story
The Extend-ITs™ personal seat belt extender story begins back in 2001 with the founder and president of Intelligent Technologies, Inc. He has always been a big guy (picture a heavyweight power lifter or an NFL interior lineman) and over most of his career business travel requirements have forced him to spend a lot of time on airplanes. He swears that over the years the seats have gotten narrower and the seat belts have gotten shorter - even in business and first class. We nod politely. Who knows? - it might be true!
In any case, he frequently needed to request a seat belt extender from the cabin crew. Ignoring for the moment the patronizing looks (did you know that the flight attendants have a private nickname for overweight passengers: "squishies!!") and the need to sometimes ask for assistance two or three times - sometimes not receiving an extender until after it had been used for the safety demo - he found out first hand one evening that having a personal seat belt extender might make the difference between getting to his destination on time or having a long, unscheduled layover at the airport.
The Night The Belts Ran Out
On the night in question he was flying from Boston to San Francisco on a major national airline on the last flight out until the next morning. On this particular evening, the 757 was fully booked and a higher than normal number of larger passengers were on board. Contrary to popular opinion, airlines do not routinely carry a large number of seat belt extenders on board their flights - the fact that you often don't get one until after the flight attendant has used it for the safety demo is a pretty good clue that they only have a limited number on hand.
To make a long story short, on this particular flight there were not enough seat belt extenders to go around (no pun intended!). As the fully loaded airplane sat there waiting at the gate one of the flight attendants had to dash over to another gate to borrow some additional extenders from another airplane so the flight could proceed.
When the seat belt extenders were finally handed out, it became very clear to the rest of the passengers why they had been delayed, causing a certain amount of grumbling. Worse, had the flight crew not been able to get some additional extenders, they would have had no choice but to remove some of the larger passengers from the airplane because under FAA rules the airplane may not push back from the gate, let alone fly, unless and until all passengers are properly belted into their seats. Talk about humiliating!! Even ignoring that, getting bumped to a later flight under even the best of circumstances usually involves major inconvenience in terms of having to revise flight connections, hotel reservations, airport pick up plans, business appointments, etc. What a pain!
Extended flight delays or getting removed from a flight are probably not normally much of a risk in a major city like Boston because Logan is a busy airport with lots of flights and lots of other airplanes from which the flight crew can borrow additional seat belt extenders. But suppose a seat belt extender shortage happens at a smaller terminal? Or with a regional airline with a limited fleet of airplanes? It could well result in a long wait or even an unplanned de-board to wait for the next flight and, since this would probably not be classified as an "overbooking" delay, there would in all likelihood be no compensation. Even with compensation, who needs the headache?
The Search Was On
Determined not to be put in this position again, he decided it was time to buy his own personal seat belt extender. The big problem was, where to buy one? The airlines don't sell them and a thorough search of airline magazines, airport stores and the Internet provided no retail options. Not only that, from his frequent air travel experience he already knew that there were several different seat belt types in use by different airlines. How many different models would he have to buy to cover all his flights? However, he is an engineer and not one to give up easily. He persevered and hunted down the different seat belt types, appropriate FAA quality specifications, certification requirements and the qualified manufacturers who actually build the seat belts and seat belt extenders for the major airlines. The search has continued until now, with four different models, our collection of FAA approved airline seat belt extenders covers the vast majority of commercial and private aircraft and helicopters in service today.