Flight charging by weight

The SMH reports at Stuff:

Samoa Air has become the world’s first airline to implement “pay as you weigh” flights, meaning overweight passengers pay more for their seats.

“This is the fairest way of travelling,” chief executive of Samoa Air, Chris Langton, told ABC Radio. “There are no extra fees in terms of excess baggage or anything – it is just a kilo is a kilo is a kilo.”

Like many Pacific island nations, Samoa has a serious obesity problem and is often included in the top 10 countries for obesity levels. As such, Mr Langton believes his airline’s new payment policy will also help promote health and obesity awareness.

“When you get into the Pacific, standard weight is substantially higher [than south-east Asia],” he said. “That’s a health issue in some areas. [This payment system] has raised the awareness of weight.”

Under the new system, Samoa Air passengers must type in their weight and the weight of their baggage into the online booking section of the airline’s website. The 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. Passengers are then weighed again on scales at the airport, to check that they weren’t fibbing online.

I think flight charges should be user pays, so this is a step in the right direction. However a simple per kg charge may be unfair.

Most costs are per seat, and will be incurred whether or not everyone weighs 70 kgs or 100 kgs. So there should be a per seat cost, but as greater weight means more fuel burnt, you’d have a per kg charge on top of that.

It is unfair that someone who weighs 70 kgs and has a 30 kg bag has to pay more than someone who weighs 100 kgs and has a 20 kg bag.

Mr Langton said he believed it to be a system of the future, and added that “the standard width and pitch of seats are changing as people are getting a bit bigger, wider and taller than they were 40 to 50 years ago”.

Maybe also have different size seats, with higher charges for wider seats? Of course sort of have that already with premium economy.

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