Airline That Charges Passengers by Weight Should Be Grounded

Say What!? 33

airplane cabinIf it wasn't bad enough that some employers think it's okay to coerce their employees into getting health screenings that reveal personal information about their weight and body fat percentage, now, at least one airline is making good on a disturbing promise that's been haunting air travel for a few years. They're making passengers pay a fare based on their body weight. (Oh, how I wish I was making a belated April Fools' Day joke!)

Samoa Air is now weighing passengers and their baggage, and rates start at $1 per kilo (about 2.2 pounds). For longer flights, rates run as high as $4.16 per kilo. The airline's website prompts fliers to "guesstimate" their weight when booking and prepay that amount. If you're off, though, no worries! They'll weigh you to double-check when you get to the airport. What. The. Hell!?

The Samoa Airlines CEO recently defended the practice to ABC Radio:

People have always traveled on the basis of their seat, but as any airline operator knows, airplanes don't run on seats. They run on weight.

He also said that, hey, parents should feel like they're getting a break, because presumably lightweight children are usually forced to pay the same price as a heavier adult. But not on Samoa Air! (Excuse me while I go bang my head into a wall.)

More from The Stir: Rude Waiter Calls Customers ‘Fat Girls’ on Restaurant Bill but It Gets Worse

I'm not disputing the fact that the CEO is arguing -- that weight really does matter on a plane -- but who in the world would really be okay with being subjected to this practice? Most people refuse to be weighed at their annual doctor's visit! Let alone at the airport. And then having to pay based on what you weigh ... so humiliating!

Talk about missing a sensitivity chip. Samoa Air clearly needs to figure out a better, more humane way to handle their fuel efficiency issues than resorting to objectification of their consumers and treating them like cattle. It's simply not a solution -- it's just plain sick.

Would you ever be okay with this as an airline passenger?

Image via Phillip Capper/Flickr

general health, obesity


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lulou lulou

Perhaps this can explain it

I caught that a couple years ago, those guys were pretty tough too practing on rocks and all.


Anyway, this doesnt bother me so much,  just as lower car insurance rates for people who drive less miles.  I like things that scale, and make mathematical sense.

nonmember avatar Chelsea

Makes sense. It's your choice (MOST OF THE TIME) to be be prepared to pay for it.

I agree with lulou...lower health insurance premiums for healthier people.

You CANNOT be fat and healthy.

amomm... amommy2jack

would you get a larger seat if you're bigger and pay more?  that might be worth it to some people.  I'm guessing though its the same seat size regardless of the size you pay for.

nonmember avatar Dede

Yes, I would love this!!! Why should I keep paying the ever increasing airline tickets when I maintain my weight (it's not easy!). When really the 250lb+ person (not judging weight) is costing them a lot more to fly. I am mad that my 29lb 3 year olds airline ticket cost the same as an adult!! That is not fair to me.

fleur... fleurdelys3110

Makes perfect sense to me. I think it's appropriate coming from this airline since I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that Samoa has one of the highest rates of obesity among their population in the world.

MamaM... MamaMay007

I love it. They are weighting you with your baggage so you can also pack lighter. Conversely I suspect those kids will not be cheaper.  Stroller, car seat and all of the kids bags would count towards the child weight. 

PonyC... PonyChaser

You do realize that one of the reasons for this rubbish is not because it's become "so expensive" to fly, but because more and more airlines are selling cargo space to shippers, right? There is less and less room to store passengers' stuff, because that space is far more lucrative to companies with lots and LOTS of crap to ship - and they send couriers who take it on commercial flights with them. I've seen the boxes. 25 cases and more, each the size of a PC tower, sometimes bigger, going on board with one person who "escorts" those cases to wherever they're going, whether it's to the next state or overseas. THAT'S why there's no more room for regular paying passenger's stuff, and now, the planes are getting loaded down with crap, so they have to punish the passengers who want to actually go places.

And it's just going to keep getting worse as the airlines chase the almighty dollar.

posh777 posh777

Thumbs up to samora air! I couldn't agree more

amnew... amnewlon8982

Ok...I'll probably get bashed for saying this but let me first explain that I have been overweight and at my heaviest was 275 lbs. At the time, I knew I was unhealthy and wanted to change it but like so many, I didn't know where to start. The last flight I took, I weighed in at roughly 125 lbs and was sitting by the window. The flight was the day before thanksgiving and I sat beside man who weighed at least 400 lbs. He took up half my seat as well as his own. It was the most uncomfortable travel situation I have been in. The flight attendant approached me after we had been in the air for about an hour and a half and offered to move me. I jumped at the chance because I didn't even have room to breathe. I would have gladly paid more when I was overweight if it meant my comfort and the comfort of the other passengers. It isn't fair for someone to take up their seat and half of another paying customers. I paid just as much for my comfort. I don't think its such a bad idea. When people start being penalized for poor health choices, maybe they'll think twice about that second helping of fatty foods. I am not saying some weight issues aren't dominated by health problems but the majority of the time that isn't the case. I look back now that I am a whopping 135 lbs and 4 months pregnant and realize I could have changed my weight then. I just DIDN'T DO IT.

Jespren Jespren

I want to address the last paragraph. Why are we encouraging this completely illogical 'sensitivity' over weight. Why would anyone be embarassed to be weighed in public? You're out in public, so obviously other people have seen you and already have made their assessment of your general shape. And one assumes you're aware of what you look like. Weighing yourself doesn't give anyone any more meaningful information than seeing you does. If you're embarassed by your weight, change it, if you're not going to change it, don't be embarassed by it. We shouldn't encourage illogical and harmful views of self by suggesting we should have a sense of shame or pride in reference to a descriptive number.

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