April 6, 2013
Airfare Or Airfair? Pay As You Weigh Fare Policy In Effect
A practical, fair, even keeled way of determining airfare rates or an insensitive, discriminatory, hurtful way of punishing people? You decide.
Airplanes aren’t magic. They aren’t something of sci-fi films that can’t be explained. They are precision machines that only work under the proper conditions.
One of those conditions is assuredly weight. If a plane is too heavy it can’t get the amount of lift necessary to defy gravity. Although there’s a lot more to it than that, it’s a pretty simple concept at the surface.
Then why do airplanes charge by the seat? It doesn’t seem practical to the inquisitive mind.
That practical angle is the one being taken by Chris Langton, Air chief of Samoa Airlines.
According to a CNN interview Langton said, “What makes airplanes work is weight. We are not selling seats, we are selling weight.”
For a thin person, it sounds like a great place to fly, but for bigger folks, or people carrying tons of luggage, they may feel like they’re being robbed.
“It works both ways. People who pay more deserve more. … So, it is in our interests that we take care of the people that who’ve chalked in at 150, 180 kilograms (330, 396 pounds). They’ve paid their fare and we try to give them what they should have, which is a comfortable seat. We try to make sure they have space around them, that taller people have got more leg room — within the confines of the airplane these days we try to do it.”
Samoa Air has been under a little bit of scrutiny since deploying the policy late of last year, but they stand by it, and even suggest it’s the way of the future.
“The next step is for the industry to make those sort of changes and recognize that ‘Hey, we are not all 72 kilograms (about 160 pounds) anymore and we don’t all fit into a standard seat,”’ Langton explained.
Samoa Air is the world’s first airline with fare structure that charges passengers only by weight.
When booking online, travelers enter their approximate weight and that of their luggage and prepay based on that estimated weight. Then they and their luggage are weighed again at the airport.
If you’re a little off, they’ll cut you some slack, reportedly 2 percent to be exact, but they won’t be refunding you if you estimated more weight than you’re actually bringing. Imagine that.
Langton reported satisfaction among families; “They have been pleased with the pricing model because it often costs less to fly with children using the pay-by-weight model than it would to purchase flat-fare seats.”
“People deserve to be able to travel in comfort, and the industry has been trying to fit all the square pegs into round holes and hasn’t been taking into account that for a lot of people, traveling by air is an uncomfortable experience,” he said.
Langton continued, “You don’t really look forward to a flight these days for one reason or another and it’s usually to do with the comfort factor. You are either squeezed into a narrow seat if you are a bigger person or you have got maybe bigger people hanging over you if you are a smaller person.”
“Either way both people are being disadvantaged. The larger person is not getting the credit of being large and being catered to because the fare is considered to be equal based on seats but we know it is not. It is always based on weight.”
Larger than average people are slamming the idea, referring to it as a “fat tax,” but folks on the other side of the scale are saying, “if I am getting less than 100% of the seat I paid for, the person taking my space should have to make up the difference,”
Bigger airlines won’t hop on the bandwagon for fear of the negative publicity, but for a smaller outfit like Samoa it works.
Find out more here, and let’s hear what you think about their policy, “Your weight plus your baggage items is what you pay for. Simple.”
Image Credit: The To / Shutterstock