Weigh more, pay more
April 12th, 2013 by elisa

It’s been addressed before, but now an airline has put charging passengers by their weight into practice.

The controversial decision by Samoa Air, which serves Samoa and the Cook Islands, has divided opinion across the media and web, with many comments landing on the airline’s Facebook page.

On its website, Samoa Air says: “Booking a flight with us is as easy as inputting your approximate weight into our online booking engine (don’t worry, we will weigh you again at the airport) – you then can prepay your ‘guesstimate’, guaranteeing you that much weight is allocated to you for that flight.

Adding: “We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair, by charging our passengers only for what they weigh. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple.”

Described as the ‘fairest way’ to pay for travel, passengers don’t pay for a seat when they book; instead, they pay a fixed price per kilogram, which varies depending on flight length, for the combined weight of themselves and their baggage.

Samoa Air boss, Chris Langton, told Australia’s ABC Radio: “Anyone who travels at times has felt they have been paying for half of the passenger next to them.”

He also described how some people, particularly families with young children, would pay cheaper fares on the new system: “There are no extra fees in terms of excess baggage or anything – it is just a kilo is a kilo is a kilo,” he said.

Mr Langton said he believed this was ‘the concept of the future’.

“People generally are bigger, wider and taller than they were 50 years ago,” he said. “The industry will start looking at this.”

This is not the first time a ‘fat tax’ on air travel has been suggested. A former Qantas finance chief made remarks last January, and Ryanair suggested it in 2009 following a poll suggesting a third of passengers supported it. The plans were later dropped as the airline said it would disrupt the quick turnaround time and online check-in process.

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