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Too fat to fly?  Who, me?  The decision by Samoa Air to charge passengers by their weight combined with their luggage provoked renewed discussion on this controversial topic. Could the trend become widespread across the airline industry? On the ‘plus’ side, we are happy to report that we do not charge by weight for your travel insurance!

Many travellers have strong views about the subject - especially those who have suffered through an uncomfortable flight with an oversize seatmate taking up half their seat space.  If an overweight seatmate is blocking your ability to quickly exit a plane in an emergency should it be a health and safety issue?

If passengers had to pay by weight would it give them the needed encouragement to lose weight?  Otherwise, being too fat to fly could become very expensive.

Samoa Air  weighs you and your luggage at the airport, so you cannot cheat by inputting a lower weight when you book online.  Their policy is simple: you pay at a rate determined for the length of the flight and for what you weigh, per kilo, combined with the weight of your luggage.

Ryanair caused a stir a few years ago by proposing a ‘fat tax’ which gained substantial support but the idea was unworkable due to their tight turnaround times.

Families would certainly benefit from flying by weight as children weigh much less.

In America, Southwest Airline has a policy that passengers who do not fit between the armrests must buy a second seat. Is that the best solution? To add insult to injury to persons of size - and even those of average size – Delta Airline has announced plans to add more passenger seats by cutting the size of toilet cubicles on some of its jets.

If overweight passengers pay more, should underweight people benefit from a discount?  Should fares be based on body mass index (BMI) to weed out those who are overweight and not just naturally large framed?  Should it be done by measuring waist size?  Would people with medical problems that cause weight gain have to produce a certificate from their doctor? What about athletes with heavy muscle mass, or body-builders with large shoulders and arms that do not fit comfortably into a 17″ seat?

It is all rather complicated, which is probably the reason that it has not been adopted by more airlines to date. What is your opinion? Do you think the airlines will eventually introduce flying by weight?  Feel free to leave any comments on our Facebook page.

Flickr cc Image:  Muffet

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