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March 27, 2013

Airline 'fat tax': Should heavy passengers pay more?


An economics scholar in Norway has recommended that air ticket costs be calculated according to a passenger’s weight.
Dr. Bharat P. Bhatta, associate professor of economics at Sogn og Fjordane University College, Norway, is proposing three models that he says, “may provide significant benefits to airlines, passengers and society at large.”
In his paper, published in the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, Dr. Bhatta noted “a reduction of 1 kilo weight of a plane will result in fuel savings worth US$3,000 a year and a reduction of CO2 emissions by the same token.”.
He cited a move by Air Canada, which removed life vests from its planes to make each flight 25 kilos lighter, and other initiatives by low-cost carriers such as charging for excess luggage and making oversized passengers book two seats.
“Charging according to weight and space is a universally accepted principle, not only in transportation, but also in other services," Bhatta says. "As weight and space are far more important in aviation than other modes of transport, airlines should take this into account when pricing their tickets.”
His three “pay as you weigh” models are:
Total weight: A passenger’s luggage and body weight is calculated, with the fare comprising a per kilo cost. In this scenario a passenger weighing 100 kilos with 20 kilos of luggage (120 kilos total) would pay twice that of a passenger of 50 kilos with 10 kilos of luggage (60 kilos total).
Base fare +/- extra: A base fare is set, with a per-kilo discount applying for “underweight” passengers and a per-kilo surcharge applying to “overweight” passengers.
High/Average/Low: A base fare is set, with a predetermined discount applying for those below a certain weight threshold and a predetermined surcharge applying for those above a certain weight threshold.
Bhatta prefers the third of these options. He goes on to say that weight could be ascertained through passenger self-declaration, with one in five passengers randomly selected and weighed to dissuade cheats (with penalties for cheaters) or by weighing all passengers at check in.
This latter option however would “incur huge transaction costs” and “would require a passenger to arrive a couple of hours early to have time to get through weigh-in, security and passport control.”

7 comments:

  1. Yes. Fat people should pay more.

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  2. Just like livestock.

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  3. Anyone who has had the misfortune to sit next to a morbidly obese passenger has little sympathy for them. A simple and effective solution is to require these individuals to purchase a 'business class' or 'first class' seat. I could care less that the Baby Huey sitting next to me paid more because he weighs a lot. I do care that I have to sit next to someone whose girth invades the personal space I paid for. The selection process is simple. When passengers can't squeeze through a narrow doorway they have to buy wider seats!

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  4. perhaps this is an idea whose time has come...?
    can we finally put an end to smaller/skinnier folks paying a surcharge for their larger/fatter seat companions?
    given there is a direct relationship between passenger weight and fuel costs...
    why not simply extend that ratio to ticket costs?
    it's sofa king easy...

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  5. We already have the TSA, which means that we have to arrive a couple of hours earlier anyway. I don't see any additional time if the "weigh-in" becomes part of the TSA package. Just have a scale right in front of the metal detector; that way you get weighed in and scanned at the same time!

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  6. "He goes on to say that weight could be ascertained through passenger self-declaration, with one in five passengers randomly selected and weighed to dissuade cheats (with penalties for cheaters) or by weighing all passengers at check in." yeah right !

    mick

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  7. What next?..Send the ugly people down to the back of the plane?...If you idiots think this is fine, then don't complain when they start charging you extra to actually sit down on a flight..How easy you baboons accept discrimination...The airlines make plenty of profit..And the seats are smaller in most airlines today..I weight 120 lbs and the seats are a tight fit for me..sigh...

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