Monday, April 22, 2013

Charging Passengers By Their Weight: Fairest Way To Fly?

Even though this is how fledgling airline companies did business when they first set up shop during the 1920s should airline passengers be charging their passengers according to heir own weight and how heavy are their baggage are? 

By: Ringo Bones

Believe it or not, during the dawn of the airline industry when passenger planes were no more than converted World War I era multi-engine biplane bombers, passengers were first asked to stand on a weighing scale with their carry-on baggage and were charged according to how heavy they are. Fast forward to 2013, Samoa Air CEO Chris Langton recently gained unintended fame after he decided to charge passengers by how much they and their baggage weigh – i.e. by the weight airfare billing – as opposed to by seat class that had since been de rigueur way back when airline companies started using the Douglas DC-3. Given that the law of physics has made practical aviation a weight-sensitive endeavor, isn’t it more pragmatic to charge airline passengers by how much they and their baggage weigh as opposed to seat class? 

Actually it was back in November 2012 that Samoa Air started charging passengers by how much they and their baggage weigh because the small airline company flies just three small planes in their fleet and these type of planes require more fuel – thus increased operating costs – the heavier their passengers and loads are. As a way to avoid running their airline company to the ground financially, Samoa Air introduces surcharges for passengers weighing more than 72 kilograms. In Samoa Air CEO Chris Langton’s experience of running his own airline company – and it is also proven by the existing laws of physics – airlines primarily run by weight (passengers and baggage / cargo) and not by seating class. 

So is charging passengers by how much they and their baggage weigh the fairest way to fly? Many frequent fliers on Samoa Air’s routes are quite skeptical – given that most of them are rather the burly American tourist types who normally weigh over 80 kilograms and Samoans who have grown heavier as they integrate into a rather sedentary urban lifestyle as they go to work in the tiny South Pacific island nation’s major urban centers. The Western style meat based diets are not helping matters either for the native Samoans who are the likely passengers of Samoan Air’s “by the pound” – as opposed to by the quid according to seating class- airfare billing. I wonder if Virgin Galactic’s space tourists’ fares will be based on the passenger’s weight.