Life as an Airline Free Agent: Prepping for Coach by Losing Some Weight

Welp, I’m a free agent.  I’m back to Platinum status with American and status matched to Platinum status with Delta.  I’m not completely status-less so that’s good, but odds are I’ll be sitting in the back of the cabin more than I did last year, which brings me to a personal point: I need to drop some weight.

[cue the ugh oh no he’s about to sell us a weight loss product groans]

Nope, I’m not about to sell you a weight loss product.  (feel free to buy 3-4 cameras from my Recommended Camera Gear page though)

Preparing for life in coach

First of all, I don’t want to come across as some sort of spoiled idiot who always rides up front and walks through airport security with nary a care in the world flanked by a chorus of singing angels.  I’m just a regular idiot and do most of my flying in coach.  I had American’s top status but my home base was in American’s biggest hub and I usually fly The Consulting Flights when I go to visit clients with my real job (Sunday night-Thursday night) so upgrades were few and far between.

Let’s look at the elements of coach I’m working with:

  • Smaller seats – American Airlines, as an example, is putting 170 seats in their new Project Oasis configuration for their workhorse domestic fleet (A320/A321/737).  That’s twenty more seats than they had when they merged with US Airways…in the same amount of space
  • Worse arm/shoulder room – Almost every airline who flies the Boeing 777 has 3-4-3 seating in coach.  This should’ve led to Unified Outcry from customers who value things like blood circulation but Wall Street Analysts cheered the CEOs and fawned all over their quarterly investment calls so the CEOs did it anyway.  In a 3-4-3 coach configuration you’re looking at a seat roughly 18.5″/47cm.  Using math, that equates to a roughly size 42 jacket size.  If you wear bigger than a size 42 jacket, your shoulders will be bigger than the seat

So here’s the bad news for me

I’m a fairly tall (roughly 6’1″) and broadly-shouldered dude with shoulders like whoa (according to a bunch of girls in a survey I made up).  I’m also currently pretty dang heavy.  I’m pretty dense, so it may not seem like it, but I’ve definitely found some weight that others have lost and am holding onto it for them.  To be fair, I’m also pretty dang strong, so it’s not all fatty, but my eating has really fallen off the wagon in the past year or two with entirely predictable consequences.

Here’s a picture of me in Tokyo in June of 2016.

And here’s me a few weeks ago in Cape Town.

…there’s about 40 pounds of difference in the photo.  No real way of putting it other than the truth: I could blame depression, I could blame heartbreak, but truthishly I ate like crap for the better part of three years and, predictably, this was the result.  I’m still fine in a tiny coach seat for hours on end (the 11-hour flight from Amsterdam to Cape Town, for example), but I just don’t fit into the seats as well as I would like.

Ok so what’s my plan?

I’m not a nutritionist.  I’m not a doctor.  And now for the obligatory bolded I’m not a doctor this is not medical advice please consult a medical professional before beginning any nutrition or fitness regiment disclaimer.  Ok, now that you’ve been disclaimed, here’s what I’m planning on doing:

  • Eat better
  • Exercise more

It’s a two-step process that’s never failed me.  I’m not going to bore you with my Revised Eating Plan or what I’m doing to exercise (CrOSsFiT).  I know what I need to eat and now I just need to do it.  You can’t out-train bad nutrition, so really the priority will be on eating better even if I miss a few workouts.

I’m going to try and bring you along on this journey to hopefully a healthier version of Andy.  Naturally that will mean some more healthy articles on the blog (Why It’s Not A Great Idea To Grab The Entire Tub of Hummus in the Admirals Club for Yourself), so stay tuned for a lot of non-preachy truth about all the fun of trying to lose some weight with a potentially packed travel schedule coming up!


  1. Great to see you are committing to invest in your health! I used to struggle with fat loss too, tried all sorts of diet and regimes, but if you have some time you should check out Matthew’s concept of caloric counting based on your body type and goals. He’s the author of BIGGER LEANER STRONGER, it’s a pretty good book. And his articles has helped steered me to making some progress on my fat loss journey thus far.. Hope this can help you too. Travelling and getting fit is not easy.. Cheers!

  2. I’m doing the same thing Andy. Good luck and stay disciplined!

    • You too, thank you!

  3. Not as easy as it sounds, so we are rooting for you. What motivates me as an 80 year old fellow photographer is to stick with the Nikon D850 full frame system, RRS tripod and have the desire and will power to lug it to the top of the next hill to capture that great shot. As Yogi Berra once said…”You can’t get the shot, if you can’t get to the spot.” OK, maybe someone else said that.

    • Never would’ve guessed you were 80 Paul! From the way you write I figured you were 79 max!

    • Will do!


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