Samoa Air charges passengers by the pound

Posted at 6:20 AM, Mar 28, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-02 12:23:04-04

(CNN) – The price of an airline ticket varies depending on how far in advance you buy your ticket, the time of day you want to fly and the day itself. But what if airlines also factored in something else – how much you weigh?

An airline is already doing this. Samoa Air, which operates out of the Pacific, charges passengers by the pound.

“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, or being charged for baggage you may not carry. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple,” said a statement on their website.

A study by a Norwegian professor suggests other airlines should do the same.

“Some would think that this is discriminatory but because I am straight-up economics, for me it’s not discriminatory at all,” said economist and professor, Bharat Bhatta said.

Bhatta, in a paper in the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, argues reducing the weight on a plane by a little more than 2 pounds will result in fuel savings of $3,000 a year.

He proposes passengers self-declare their weight when they book a ticket.

On a flight between Washington D.C. and Chicago, at dollars per pound, Sally who weighs 120 pounds, her ticket would be $240. Paul, on the same flight weighs 180 pounds. His ticket price is $360. And Steve who weighs 270 lbs would pay $540.

Southwest Airlines requires oversized passengers to book two seats.

And when commercial air travel first began, that’s the way it was done. See that man standing on the scale?

One group is calling the idea ridiculous.

“Treating people like freight is not a good alternative,” said Peggy Howell, of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

It’s a public relations nightmare for the airlines to even consider such a thing.

At the airport, parents thought it was a good idea to charge by the pound because parents would not have to pay a full fare for children.

However, do not like the idea.

“Men are larger than women. So are they going to have to pay more to fly. That part doesn’t quite make sense to me,” one traveler said.

Another traveler thought the practice would be discriminatory.

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