If You’re Pudgy, You Will Pay

This week Samoa Air announced it will charge passengers by weight. No more flat rates per seat, now passengers will be charged a fixed price per kilogram. The price will vary by route, and it will include personal weight as well as baggage.

The company announced its new pay-as-you-weigh system on its website. Samoa Chief Executive Chris Langton said the new fee structure is the fairest system to charge passengers, and it will promote health and obesity awareness. Reviews have been mixed.

Aside from the human rights issues and legal debates, it’s nobody’s business how much someone weighs. It’s personal, and the idea of being weighed at the airport like cattle at a sale — not to mention all the other horrors you already have to suffer, such as pat downs, body scanning, having strangers stick their germ-laden or latex-covered hands in your fro lest you be carrying razor blades a la Pam Grier in “Coffy” — this is too much.

Instead of alienating potential or existing customers with discriminatory strategies to save money on fuel, why not devote some time to pursuing people-friendly, dare I say, inclusive innovations that will bring about the same results? Technology to make planes lighter, for instance. It’s not low-hanging fruit, and it’s not a fast-cash solution, but it beats the storm of incredulous publicity that has followed this move.

There are other ways to make a buck, no? Charging for bags was a workable solution to mitigate the rising costs of travel — one that does not discriminate by individual. I mean, people weigh more for many different reasons: access to fresh produce, cultural belief, education, socio-economic situation and so on.

Prediction: Samoa Air will soon be purchased by another company, or its clientele will be restricted to supermodels. Everyone else will be on a different airline.