A GREAT WEIGH TO FLY
Would you lose weight for a cheaper airfare?
Given that airplanes always run on weight – not seats – what if airlines started charging passengers by the kilo?
What if we all had to get on the scales at airports… Would you?
Samoa Air started charging passengers by weight in January – the first system of its kind in the world - and today report that the system has so far been a success, especially for families.
Meanwhile a Norwegian economist who backs a “pay as you weigh” system and believes obese passengers should be charged more has highlighted the health benefits of such an incentive.
At Samoa Air, the pay-by-weight booking system requires passengers to type in their weight on the airline’s online reservation system, where their fare is calculated.
Chief Executive Chris Langton told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat that families have benefited the most.
“People who have been most pleasantly surprised are families, because we don’t charge on the seat requirement even though a child is required to have a seat, we just weigh them,” he said.
“So a family of maybe two adults and a couple of mid sized kids and younger children can travel at considerably less than what they were being charged before.”
Meanwhile, according to Reuters, Norwegian economist Bharat Bhatta says
that airlines should follow the lead of other transport sectors and charge by space and weight.
“To the degree that passengers lose weight and therefore reduce fares, the savings that result are net benefits to the passengers,” he said.
Bhatta put together three models for what he called “pay as you weigh airline pricing”:
- The first would charge passengers according to how much they and their baggage weighed. It would set a rate for pounds (kg) per passenger so that someone weighing 130 pounds (59 kg) would pay half the fare of 260-pound (118-kg) person.
- A second model would use a fixed base rate, with an extra charge for heavier passengers to cover the extra costs. Under this option, every passenger would have a different fare.
- Bhatta’s preferred option was the third, where the same fare would be charged if a passenger was of average weight. A discount or extra charge would be used if the passenger was above or below a certain limit.
Some airlines are already implementing strategies to handle this issue: United Airlines requires passengers who cannot fit comfortably into a single seat to buy another one.
According to Reuters, a 2010 online survey for travel website Skyscanner revealed that 76 per cent of travelers said airlines should charge overweight passengers more if they needed an extra seat.
What do you think?
What’s the fairest way to charge for plane tickets?
Would you happily pay for your airfare based on your weight?