Should airlines charge a fat tax?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

So Samoa Air has started to charge passengers for a plane seat, according to how much they weigh. Many thought it was a case of April Fool’s (Samoa Air made the announcement on 1 April), but one week on their website still reads:

“Booking a flight with us is as easy as inputting your approximate weight into our online booking engine (don’t worry, we will weigh you again at the airport) — you then can prepay your ‘guesstimate’, guaranteeing you that much weight is allocated to you for that flight … with Samoa Air, you are the master of how much (or little!) your air ticket will cost.”

Adrian thinks it highly unlikely that other airlines will follow suit (read his rumble, here), but it’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing introduced in some form or other.

Airlines don’t run on seats, they run on weight so why should passengers be charged for their excess baggage but not obscenely excessive body weight? Bigger – read overweight – passengers claim introducing a tax would be  “unfair” but what’s fair about being squashed into your seat on a long haul flight (as I was recently), because the person next to is so wide as to really require two seats?

Airline seats aren’t getting smaller: our population is simply, thanks to poor food choices and lack of exercise, getting bigger. A fat tax could be the answer to the growing problem of morbid obesity – a thousand people die every week from weight-related problems in the UK, with the NHS spending millions of pounds tackling the health effects of obesity.

Wouldn’t you – in this era of austerity – try a little harder to shift your excess weight if it resulted in cheaper air ticket?


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