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Samoan Air, flying small jumpers to places like the Cook Islands and French Polynesia, is now charging passengers by weight instead. Online bookings now include weight guesstimates, but that weight is confirmed by scale at the airport when you arrive for your flight.


From the article:

Not that the idea hasn't been floated -- several times -- in the past. In fact, ABC News reported just last week a Norwegian economist was the latest to float the idea of an airline "fat tax."
The Samoa Air homepage reads "We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair, by charging our passengers only for what they weigh. You are the master of your Air'fair', you decide how much (or little) your ticket will cost. No more exorbitant excess baggage fee's [sic], or being charged for baggage you may not carry. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple."
"Airplanes don't run on seats, they run on weight," Samoa Air's Chief Executive, Chris Langton, told Radio Australia.
If any airline were to try a pay-what-you-weigh policy, Samoa Air would make perfect sense. Obesity is a major problem in the Pacific islands. The World Health Organization reported in 2010 that 80 percent of women in American Samoa were obese.
There are not currently details on whether or not a particular weight gains you an extra seat for the expense, or whether you'd get a refund if you were lighter than you entered in on the reservation. Sorry to see they decided to single out the female Samoan obesity rate, though one could assume it's probably more dramatic than the male rate and that's why they chose it.

The airline's CEO does feel that the policy is the wave of the future, and weighing passengers wouldn't be harder than adding a scale to the floor in front of the check-in counters.

What do you think?


Airlines charging passengers by weight an acceptable policy?

57%52 votes
12%11 votes
18%17 votes
11%10 votes

| 90 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's a weighty issue (10+ / 0-)

    (Sorry, I couldn't resist) But ultimately it comes down to the cost of fuel. I know many airlines already charge for baggage weight. The weight of the customers seems like the next logical thing. Being one of the "hefty class" I really wouldn't have a problem with it. Hell, it might even motivate me to lose some of my own "baggage".

    You can't assassinate the character of any of modern conservative. You'd have to find where it was buried, dig it up, resurrect it, then kill it. And killing a zombie isn't really assassination, is it?

    by ontheleftcoast on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 11:22:53 AM PDT

    •  Weight AND balance (5+ / 0-)

      This will help them anticipate flight loads better.

      I know this plan sounds absolutely brutal, but physics is physics and an aircraft can't be overloaded or unbalanced and still fly safely.

      I bet they see a lot less carry-on and checked baggage. Most passengers tend to bring way more stuff than they need on trips anyhow.

      If they need all sorts of stuff, there are more efficient ways to ship it.

      © grover

      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 11:52:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I once flew out of Denver on a hot July day. A (6+ / 0-)

        niggling impulse led me to check in as soon as my connecting flight got in, 90 minutes before the flight out. Turned out to be a good thing - a quarter of the passengers were not allowed to board, because between the heat and a low pressure system the plane couldn't lift a full load. I've never seen such irate passengers.

        Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

        by Wee Mama on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 12:01:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yup. I've been on numerous emptier flights (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama, Eyesbright, aitchdee, Bisbonian

          Where ground staff or flight attendants asked a couple big athletic guys and a smaller woman or two to move to balance out the weight of a very obese couple. (They try to avoid asking obese passengers to be the ones to move).

          Heck, I've seen this on nearly full flights where a large family of obese passengers purchased seats to sit together. In that case, you almost HAVE to split them up, depending on where their seats are located.

          Overall, airlines tend to work hard to accommodate and not insult obese passengers. But folks think they're buying a "seat" on an aircraft. They're really not. They really are buying a weight allotment, which FAA has increased in recent years because Americans have grown heavier.

          The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday told airlines flying planes with more than 19 seats to raise the assumed average weight of each passenger by 10 pounds, and the assumed weight for each checked bag by another 5 pounds to ensure their planes were not overloaded.


           The actions were spurred by the January crash of a commuter plane that may have been within the current weight rules but may still have been overloaded.


          Since 1995, most airlines have assumed a weight of 180 pounds per adult in summer and 185 pounds in winter; checked bags are assumed to weigh 25 pounds each.

          Some airlines flying small planes with 19 seats or fewer have already raised their weight allowances by about 30 pounds, the FAA said Monday, after an order from the agency earlier this year to 15 airlines asking them to survey passengers and their bags and adjust their assumptions about their weights accordingly. Some industry experts said the new weight requirements will mean that on some flights, mostly on smaller planes, cargo may have to be left behind or some seats go unsold.

          (This action took place in 2003. Americans have continued to get heavier on average since then.)

          Add to that weird conditions like you encountered, and things get very touchy.

          But an unbalanced or overweight aircraft is unsafe aircraft which is far worse than none at all. It should never lift off.

          © grover

          So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

          by grover on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 12:32:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I was weighed for a flight to Vieques (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GoGoGoEverton, grover, viral, aitchdee

        from San Juan, and for a woman that can be traumatic!

  •  Nothing new... (9+ / 0-)

    ...they used to weigh passengers in the early days of airlines. And it's more of an issue with puddle-jumper operations, where they will actually move the passengers around to balance the load.

    Of course, it's now April 2nd...

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 11:23:17 AM PDT

  •  decent idea (6+ / 0-)

    Probably the most equitable way to treat the issue.

  •  It actually makes sense logically (10+ / 0-)

    since the cost to the airline to get me from point A to point B is more directly linked to the weight I bring on the plane (a combination of me plus my carry-ons, luggage etc.) than  anything else that they base ticket prices on.  

  •  Let me weigh in on this... (4+ / 0-)

    (Rim shot).

    Overall this sounds like an excellent idea- a more logical fare structure for the provider and an incentive for health living for the passenger (and lower medical costs as result). My concern is discrimination. In many poorer areas fresh healthy food is not as easy to find or as cheap as calorie laden garbage. But overall it sounds positive.

    "Patients are not consumers" - Paul Krugman

    by assyrian64 on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 11:31:17 AM PDT

  •  Samoa is fourth in the world in high BMI at just (6+ / 0-)

    over 30.  The first three are also Pacific Islanders.  
    "Overweight" is over 25.  "Obese" is over 30.

    Looks like they're going where the money is.  Also a good excuse not to serve in-flight meals.

    I can just see the "specials" now.  FLY SAMOAN AIR THIS WEEKEND FOR BODY WEIGHT ONLY.  NO CLOTHES OR SHOES. Not recommended for the faint of heart.

    Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. --Herman Melville

    by ZedMont on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 11:32:44 AM PDT

  •  So its going to cost more for men than women (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and for minorities than whites, I take it? I'm not sure I'm okay with that.  If you're 6'8 are you just doomed to have to pay more for travel?  Seems like a flash in the pan that won't catch on.  

  •  If you're on a twenty seater in Samoa (5+ / 0-)

    being a 350 pound passenger would make that one passenger about 8-10% of the total passenger weight. Just the extra weight over the mean might account for 4% of the total passenger weight. That's not insignificant, as opposed to, say, flying Southwest, where the same passenger is only about 1-2%. In that case, pricing by seat makes more sense.

  •  this fatty is against this idea (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aitchdee, burlydee, Utahrd

    for obvious reasons.  

    online booking is out the window. and i'm sure it wouldn't result in lower prices for light people, just more expensive prices for heavier folks.  

    I'm sure  Tony Rocky Horror would agree with me.  RIP

    •  The problem is that you can get to the airport (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee, Eyesbright

      And be denied boarding because you're too heavy for that flight.

      If the airline knows the weights of everyone flying, they can cut off reservations if say, 12 obese people all book for the same flight even if the aircraft seats 20. So everyone gets to fly when they expected to.

      Otherwise, you may wait for your flight then be denied while the skinny woman (who showed up and bought her ticket at the last minute) gets to board because she is passenger #13 and they can squeeze her on at 80 lbs. But not you. Or the other 6 overweight and obese people who have been planning this trip for months, or longer.

      You're looking at it from a "corporations are screwing us" perspective. But overweight aircraft can't fly safely.

      In January 2003 an Air Midwest Beech 1900 with 19 passengers aboard failed to gain altitude quickly enough and crashed into an airport hanger during takeoff in Charlotte, North Carolina. All passengers and crew died in the incident. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that Air Midwest used "substantially inaccurate weight and balance calculations for company airplanes," which were based on incorrect "average passenger and baggage weights." The NTSB recommended "periodic sampling of passenger and baggage weights [to] determine whether air carrier average weight programs [are] accurately representing passenger and baggage loads."

      A google search will give you loads of examples (incident reports) of flight that left the gate, then were recalled for being overweight.   You know what they do at that point, right? They take passengers off. Whom exactly is this good for? So you saved a few dollars. So your feelings were spared by not having to be weighed by a complete stranger.

      You're sitting in a terminal while your fight leaves without you.

      © grover

      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 01:02:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  reminds me of my wrestling days (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The week before your flight, drink less and run lots of miles in a rubber suit.

    (not really: that is a dangerous thing to do, though wrestlers in weight classes did this)

    "Obama won. Get over it."

    by onanyes on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 12:17:50 PM PDT

  •  I've flown on small feeder arilines that would (5+ / 0-)

    ask the "larger" passengers to exchange seats to balance the aircraft out.  Yes heavier passengers should pay more.

    Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    by thestructureguy on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 12:20:05 PM PDT

  •  Up, Up and Aweigh (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GoGoGoEverton, grover, aitchdee

    West. No further west. All sea. --Robert Grenier

    by Nicolas Fouquet on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 12:24:47 PM PDT

  •  I don't mind being moved around as ballast (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aitchdee, burlydee

    but I think this is a crazy idea on airlines where most of the weight being carried is in the cargo hold.

    More bashing of fat people is really not what's needed.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 12:32:04 PM PDT

  •  My main issue with this... (6+ / 0-) that if plane tickets for kids (relatively lightweight) end up being a lot cheaper, that just increases the chances of a little tyke in the seat directly behind mine, kicking the back of my seat.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 12:57:19 PM PDT

    •  Heh. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GoGoGoEverton, aitchdee

      (Do not make a "toss the tyke overboard" joke, grover. Do not make a "toss the tyke overboard" joke, grover....)

      I'm sure you could find a good remedy to that problem, James.


      © grover

      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 01:07:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Offer to teach the kid kicking the back of your (4+ / 0-)

      seat "adult vocabulary" if it continues.  Instantly the parent will become very interested in its behavior!  --Experimentally Verified--

      Socialist? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

      by Kimbeaux on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 01:35:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You're on to something (0+ / 0-)

      Delta would go bankrupt, selling cheap tickets to all the kids that fly out of the state with the highest birthrate's biggest airport.  (Salt Lake City)

      The quicker Delta and its monopoly pricing disappear, the better.  Southwest can take over the domestic routes, Jet Blue can take over the flights to Canada and Mexico.

      "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

      by Utahrd on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 02:18:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We are talking about Samoa here (8+ / 0-)

    I don't know how many of you have been to that Island, but even non-overweight Samoans are garguantuan.   There is a reason that they are so popular as football linesmen.

    Tongans are even bigger -- I had a crew remove some concrete and it is the only time I have ever seen anybody use a jackhammer one handed.   Absolutely magnificent examples of the human species.    They made it look so easy that I tried to help them load chunks of concrete.   Big mistake.   They got a laugh out of it.

    •  The Polynesia Of The North and East (0+ / 0-)

      Yes, those of us who live in Utah are familiar with what you are talking about.

      "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

      by Utahrd on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 02:19:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the first time I flew from Pago Pago to Honolulu (0+ / 0-)

      I was shocked when the flight attendant came out with a large box of seat belt extensions... and she was really worried that she would not have enough for her flight.

      I watched as she made her way through the aisles and only had a couple extension devices to spare by the time she made it through the entire cabin.

       These Samoan passengers were not obese! they were just naturally built larger than your average American and most of them were way more fit than I am at 5'11" and 180 lbs.... even though many easily weighed upwards of 300 lbs.

  •  Happy April Fool's Day! (0+ / 0-)

    There is no Samoa Air.

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