Airline Charges By The Pound
Maybe your airline charges by the pound…I read an article this week written by Matt Brownell at Daily Finance, reporting on Samoa Air, a small airline in the South Pacific that is now weighing passengers and their baggage to determine the cost of their ticket. Per kilogram, you may pay $1 or up to $4.16, depending on the length of your flight. This is most interesting as Samoa has a high rate of obesity.
The airline’s website is taking this tack: “We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair, by charging our passengers only for what they weigh. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple.” In an interview, the airline’s CEO took a similar stance: “there are no extra fees in term of excess baggage or anything – it is just a kilo is a kilo is a kilo.”
Although this school of thought holds a basic truth, the underlying controversies are many. With the aspects of discrimination that begin to surface after contemplating this for a while, it seems doubtful that such a practice would take hold in the U.S. Remember the trouble Southwest got into when they told an obese passenger she had to purchase two seats? As it turns out, she flew part of her trip, as planned, but was told when re-boarding after a layover that she would have to purchase a second seat. Her argument was with the inconsistency, not being told at the time of purchase and the embarrassing lack of privacy during the incident. If an individual can’t fit into one seat without infringing on co-passengers, then it makes sense to pay for an additional seat, but in a dignified manner. Otherwise; it’s a flawed policy.
What if you happen to be really tall? Or pregnant? Or you have a debilitating medical condition, over which you have absolutely no control that causes you to be overweight? Such thoughts must not have occurred to the airline when they began touting the claim “you decide how much (or little) your ticket will cost”.
If the airline is thinking their idea will get travelers to lose weight, they may want to reconsider. Individuals who battle problems with obesity need diet education,inspiration and support from their loved ones and their communities. For a business to focus their financial structure on an individual’s weight seems to take us back a step in cultural progress. This way of thinking is morally and socially wrong. Any airline in the U.S. that would adopt this policy should be boycotted by all of us, in unison: “A seat is a seat is a seat!” This is one idea that should never have gotten off the ground.
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