Pay by the Pound: Samoa Air Becomes First Airline to Charge Overweight Passengers More
By Hannah Osborne | April 2, 2013 9:04 PM EST
Samoa Air has become the first airline to start charging customers according to how much they weigh.
The company, based in the Samoan capital Apia, is the first to bring in the controversial measure that means overweight passengers pay more for their ticket.
A statement from Samoa Air said: "We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair, by charging our passengers only for what they weigh.
"You are the master of your air 'fair', you decide how much (or little) your ticket will cost. No more exorbitant excess baggage fees or being charged for baggage you may not carry. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple."
When booking online, customers are asked to enter their details, including the estimated weight of passengers and their baggage, and the fare is then calculated accordingly.
Harsh - but fare?
Customers prepay the estimated cost and the airline then weighs them at the airport, to ensure they have paid the correct amount.
Samoa Air chief executive Chris Langton said paying by weight is the fairest way to calculate fares.
He told ABC radio: "People have always travelled on the basis of their seat but as many airline operators, know airlines don't run on seats - they run on weight.
"The smaller the aircraft you are in, the less variance you can accept in terms of the difference in weight between passengers.
"We have worked out a figure per kilo. This is the fairest way of you travelling with your family or yourself. You can put your baggage on, there are no separate fees because of excess baggage - a kilo is a kilo is a kilo.
"The people that have been most pleasantly surprised are families because we don't charge on the seat requirement, even though a child is required to have a seat - we just weigh them.
"So a family of maybe two adults and a couple of mid-sized kids and younger children can travel for considerably less than what they were being charged before."
Rates per kilo for fares vary according to how long the flight is.
"There is no doubt in my mind that this is the concept of the future. We always weigh the mass that is on an aircraft," Langton said.
"And that always has to pay for the transportation; it doesn't matter whether you are carrying freight or people. "
Samoa Air's fare policy follows comments made by Norwegian professor Bharat Bhatta, who said overweight passengers should be charged more because of the extra fuel needed to transport them to their destination.
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