The Washington Post

Samoa Air prices tickets based on passengers’ weight

Is pricing a plane ticket based on the passenger’s weight fair?

If you’re taking an international flight on tiny Samoa Air today, your fare will be based on your weight, along with that of your luggage. The cost is 93 cents to $1.06 for each kilogram, or 2.2 pounds.

The average American woman weighs in at 166.2 pounds, or 75.5 kilograms, far from the ideal weight for her average height of 5 feet, 3.8 inches tall, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Her ticket on Samoa Air, at the $1 a kilogram rate, would cost $75.50.

But let’s be honest here. The average American woman is at least 20 to 40 pounds overweight — and it’s costing her an extra $20 to $40.

Samoa Air Chief Executive Chris Langton said that “planes are run by weight and not by seat,” explaining, “The plane can only carry a certain amount of weight and that weight needs to be paid.” He believes other airlines should adopt the policy.

It’s not a new idea. I remember a newspaper columnist years ago who put forth the idea that the heavier among us should pay more for their seats on planes, trains and buses. Who hasn’t been squeezed into a middle seat between two plus-sized folks on a flight? It’s happened to me; one time my married seatmates had purposefully chosen their seats to have more space until a sold-out flight put me between them. Not one of my better flying experiences.

More than one-third of us are obese and another third are overweight. Could such pricing provide a much-needed incentive for Americans to shed excess poundage–like wanting to look good in a bikini on that vacation to the beach?

Or is the policy merely fat-bashing or “body fascism,” as one British editorial writer charges, calling it “a dehumanizing, degrading and mechanistic approach to customer service.”

There’s no doubt weight discrimination exists. Your weight can affect your salary, your chances for employment, how others view you and even, as a result, your own self-image. Bias against the overweight in the United States has increased by 66 percent over the last decade — “and is comparable to rates of racial discrimination, especially among women,” wrote Yale University researcher Rebecca M. Puhl in a study published by the Journal of Obesity.

It’s a thin line between providing motivation to lose weight and fostering discrimination against the overweight and obese.

And we’ll see how effective it is as a business model.

Diana Reese is a freelance journalist in Overland Park, Kan. Follow her on Twitter at @dianareese.

RELATED: 11 steps to healthier eating

 

Diana Reese is a journalist in Overland Park, Kan. Follow her on Twitter at @dianareese.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
Republicans debated Saturday night. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says...
Rarely has the division between Trump and party elites been more apparent. Trump trashed one of the most revered families in Republican politics and made a bet that standing his ground is better than backing down. Drawing boos from the audience, Trump did not flinch. But whether he will be punished or rewarded by voters was the unanswerable question.
GOP candidates react to Justice Scalia's death
Quoted
I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish.
Sen. Marco Rubio, attacking Sen. Ted Cruz in Saturday night's very heated GOP debate in South Carolina. Soon after, Cruz went on a tirade in Spanish.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
The State's Andy Shain says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

March 6: Democratic debate

on CNN, in Flint, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read

national

she-the-people

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.