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Samoans could pay anywhere from $1 to $4.16 per kilogram

Samoans will have to start paying a hefty fee to fly on Samoa Air if they're overweight. 

Samoa Air is the first airline to make customers pay as much as they weigh when flying on the airline. For overweight customers, this could mean big charges. 

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

Customers will have to start typing in their weight when purchasing Samoa Air tickets online, and pay anywhere from about $1 to about $4.16 per kilogram (depending on whether they're traveling short domestic routes or between Samoa and American Samoa). 

Once arriving at the airport, the customers are weighed again to make sure they didn't lie online. 

Why is Samoa Air doing this? According to Langton, it's partially meant to raise awareness of obesity and health, since Samoa is often in the top 10 lists for obesity. 

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

The payment by weight system will have other benefits, such as safety measures where a plane can only handle so many overweight customers (larger passengers have to be evenly distributed on the plane for safety); families with young children could pay much less than what they're paying now, and carriers could gain the money lost on fuel for carrying heavier passengers. 

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

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RE: Fair is fair
By othercents on 4/2/2013 10:19:33 AM , Rating: 2
The only time a weight pricing model is unfair is when you are comparing a normal weight short person against a normal weight tall person. It is very possible that a short overweight person could pay less than a tall average weight person. If the purpose was specifically to address obesity then they would be using BMI for pricing. In reality they really should be looking at requiring someone to pay for an adjacent seat for someone that doesn't fit in the seat and could cause another passenger to be uncomfortable.

The reality is that airlines need to be able to account for weight on the airplanes so they can properly determine fuel cost for the flight. While on average Americans are becoming more and more overweight they are still expecting the same ticket pricing they had in the past and having the airline cover the difference in cost. There are also weight limits on airplanes and typically the smaller airplanes are the only ones we notice issues with weight.


RE: Fair is fair
By lagomorpha on 4/2/2013 10:51:32 AM , Rating: 3
There are also weight limits on airplanes and typically the smaller airplanes are the only ones we notice issues with weight.

Just to illustrate how bad this weight limit is, a Cesna 172's maximum takeoff weight allows for 759 pounds of fuel, pilot, 3 passengers, and cargo. With 3 fat guys the plane would never get off the ground.

RE: Fair is fair
By Lord 666 on 4/2/2013 11:18:21 AM , Rating: 2
When I used to live in the Caribbean, to fly between certain islands, we all had to be weighed. This was just because the airport had an adjacent mountain that certain planes could not get over if too heavy.

RE: Fair is fair
By Solandri on 4/2/2013 3:15:57 PM , Rating: 4
There's another benefit to this too. Weight distribution is as important to an aircraft as the gross weight. Right now all the airlines just assume each passenger is an average weight and sitting in their assigned seating (yes it's important for you to sit in your assigned seat). The airline will shift the distribution of baggage and sometimes fuel to compensate for imbalances in the passenger load.

For the larger aircraft, the larger passenger pool means their assumed average has a higher probability to be closer to reality (as you roll more dice, the bell curve of their cumulative total becomes narrower). But with smaller commuter aircraft, just a few overweight people can cause a substantial deviation from the assumed average, leaving the plane unbalanced.

RE: Fair is fair
By Fritzr on 4/2/2013 4:59:57 PM , Rating: 3
It most definitely can affect US airlines. Cascade airlines went out of business shortly after people started referring to them as Crashcade. The final straw was a Cascade plane that crashed on takeoff due to a baggage imbalance.

RE: Fair is fair
By Dorkyman on 4/2/2013 1:11:39 PM , Rating: 2
I'm guessing you're speaking figuratively about the Cessna. It certainly could get off the ground, but all the specs get worse--longer ground roll, lower rate of climb, slightly higher stall speed, lower margins for extreme g-loads. But it could definitely fly.

RE: Fair is fair
By lagomorpha on 4/3/2013 9:47:35 AM , Rating: 2
It certainly could get off the ground,

A 1,691 lb plane might not even get off the ground with 2000 pounds of fat guys in it...

RE: Fair is fair
By eagle470 on 4/2/2013 11:18:36 AM , Rating: 2
I personally am sick of having to share half my seat with someone that can't stop eating McDonald's. Not to mention the fact that this would be a fairer pricing model for those that currently have to buy two seat's. It might also reduce flight capacity as the more heavy people on a plane, the more fuel required for lift. Not only are the people heavier, so are their clothes (more material = more weight.) And weight does add up, even for the bigger planes. If you think otherwise maybe you should take a physics aeronautics class.

Plus, if the skinny tall guy weighs more, maybe he should just take a crap before getting on the plane.

I'm all for this business model, it would encourage companies to give traveling employees more money for meals (healthier meals tend to cost a bit more, but it adds up) and allocate time to workout and keep healthy. I see a lot of over weight sales guys.

RE: Fair is fair
By Motoman on 4/2/2013 1:48:08 PM , Rating: 5
It's not unfair at all. Regardless of your height/weight ratio.

The irrefutable fact of the matter is that the actual, real cost-to-serve for an airline is weight. Period. No other factor matters at all. Not for people, anyway, for which a seat is provided as the "space" you're going to occupy (air cargo gets billed out using a concept called "dimensional weight" that also takes into account the volume that the box occupies in addition to it's actual weight, but in the case of people, seats are seats).

So, if you want actual honesty in airline pricing...this is it. If you're 7 feet tall and weigh 300 pounds, and you're fit as a fiddle...good for you. But it's still going to cost you twice as much to fly as the 4'11" girl who's 50% overweight at 150 pounds.

BMI is irrelevant - you're trying to introduce some kind of "morality" into the equation...the notion that the 7' man is "morally correct" in his weight, wheras the 4'11" girl is "morally incorrect" in her weight. The problem is that it makes no f%cking difference to the actual cost-to-serve. So no...Shaq should not get a break on his airfare because he's "supposed" to be that weight, as opposed to Kirstie Ally in blimp-mode, because she's "not supposed" to be that weight.

RE: Fair is fair
By futrtrubl on 4/2/13, Rating: -1
RE: Fair is fair
By Motoman on 4/2/2013 4:26:03 PM , Rating: 2
My point is that you shouldn't vary pricing based on BMI. Because it has no basis in the reality of cost-to-serve.

The airline says that it's partially to "raise awareness of obesity and health" - that's fine. But they're not basing their pricing on BMI, or any other such measure. All passengers are being treated the same - simply charged by weight. Ergo, the pricing is not based on BMI.

RE: Fair is fair
By Fritzr on 4/2/2013 4:57:22 PM , Rating: 3
They are "raising awareness". They are not penalizing the obese.

If someone is overweight and flies with this airline regularly, this pricing scheme encourages them to lose weight to get a better ticket cost.

Yes it "unfairly" impacts those who are simply big, but it is completely fair in that no one is singled out as special, everyone pays a flat rate multiplied by the reading on the scale ... no health tax modifiers are included.

RE: Fair is fair
By Motoman on 4/2/2013 6:04:32 PM , Rating: 3
I dispute the notion that those who are "simply big" are unfairly impacted.

All people are impacted exactly the same way. All are treated the same. Ergo...fair.

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