Should heavier people pay more for flights? 299

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An airline has announced it will start weighing passengers before takeoff, claiming it is a bid to “ensure flight safety”, but the move reopens the debate on whether airlines will one day charge passengers depending on their weight.

Uzbekistan Airways says the new procedure is to determine the “average weight of passenger with hand baggage”. At this stage, it doesn’t look like passengers will be turned away at the gate if they are too heavy to fly, or asked to pay more if they are on the heavy side.

A statement on the Central Asian airline’s website says, “According to the rules of International Air Transport Association, airlines are obliged to carry out the regular procedures of preflight control passengers weighing with hand baggage to observe requirements for ensuring flight safety”.

However, CNN reports that a spokesman for the International Air Transport Association said they were not aware of any such regulation.

Airlines typically estimate the weight of their passengers based on average weights for men, women and children, plus luggage. This assumes people stay within their luggage allowance, of course, and has to be adjusted as people grow heavier each year.

As any intrepid traveller who has been brave enough to board a small plane in the Pacific knows, weight matters. For those hair-raising inter-island flights, passengers are often weighed with their luggage to ensure the plane has enough fuel to make it to its destination.

Samoa Air was the first major carrier to instigate a pay-per-kilo system on its BN2A Islander and Cessna 172 aircraft. Passengers must type their weight and the weight of their baggage into the online booking section of the airline’s website, and this is checked at the airport where passengers are required to hop on the scales. Rates vary depending on the distance flown: from $1 per kilogram on the airline’s shortest domestic route to about $4.16 per kilogram for travel between Samoa and American Samoa.

Experts are divided about whether or not a pay-per-kilo system is a fair and practical way to charge passengers. Some say it is the best way to “correctly” charge for flights, while others say it punishes people who are obese.

Let’s talk: What do you think? Should heavier passengers pay more for airline tickets?


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  1. Excuse me!! Some people are not large by choice. Absolute rubbish! It is purely money grab. Do this and lose me QANTAS

  2. There should be an allocated area with larger seats for those obese people who make it very uncomfortable if a smaller person is forced to sit next to them…..especially on long haul flights. Politically incorrect…YES. Fact….Definately.

    1 REPLY
    • oh how I agree with you, Patricia,
      –after spending 7 hours with half of the man next to me– encroaching into my seat– it was unbearable….
      They should make a separate section for them all, as they just don’t fit into Economy.. Sorry, but thats how I feel. !

  3. The real question is, will they make flights cheaper for skinny people? I’ll bet they don’t!

  4. Heavens this is Uzbekistan Airways … hardly relevant to us! Are you just trying to stir up more discrimination and anger towards others SAS?

    2 REPLY
    • It’s already happening with Samoan Airlines and a lot of smaller aircraft flights in the country areas you have to give your weight and luggage when booking to allow them to safely balance the load. So it may not be too far away on our commercial airlines.

      1 REPLY
    • Qantas is considering an additional row of seats into Cattle Class air travel so it may well affect us soon.

  5. I live in far north Queensland, Australia and If I am travelling to a more remote area, my weight is noted, along with the weight of everything I am taking on the plane. This is not a little four seater but a plane that takes about twenty passengers. Being “Overloaded” is a real problem.

  6. what will they think of next. will a amputee get a discount for not having a limb, will a pregnant mum be charged for two and a half persons, the mind boggles

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