Your thoughts: Weight-based airfare

2013-07-26 13:18

Weight has always been a contentious issue in the airline business, as more carriers toy with the idea of implementing similar restrictions on heavy passengers as they do on heavy luggage. 

India's GoAir recently made news for saying that they would only be hiring thin, female flight attendants, in a bid to save money on fuel.

This follows on from last year when Samoa Air became the first airline in the world to charge airfares according to weight.

Local travel site SouthAfrica.TO decided to find out what South Africans' take on the weight issue is in a recent survey.

They reported a surprising difference in opinion between those over and those under 60 years old. 

While 53% of South Africans older than 60 believe it's perfectly acceptable to weigh-in like a boxer before a flight and be charged accordingly, 64% of younger folk say it's unacceptable.

We asked for your opinion on the matter and it seems many of you are in favour.

Some of you have suggested a prescribed benchmark weight for a specific height, with those who exceed it being charged accordingly. While others, who know they are bigger than the normal average, say they are willing to pay the extra fee if they could get a bigger plane seat.

Take a look at these opinions emailed in by our News24 travel readers:

El-Marie Schuster - "And those that are against it are the huge overweight I'm sure?! I have had to sit next to obese people - and they are obese purely because they eat too much - and had the most uncomfortable flights as they spill over onto my side and seat ..."

Grant Callaway - "There's one major oversight: The number of seats on the plane. If you oad a plane with kids weighing 10kg each, income for that flight is going to be about 1 sixth of an ordinary flight's income. And just because you have extra weight capacity does not mean that extra seats will suddenly appear."

Fred Oosthuizen - "How can we compare a woman who is 5 ft tall weighing 65 kig with 35% body fat to a man 6.4 ft weighing 110kg with a 18% body fat ( which is not obese), surely that is not fair?"

Jean Tredoux - "Fine the fat ones!!! I pay my VA membership and it's costing quite a bit each year so why must I Keep healthy and watch my weight while some other fat jerk is stuffing his face with a whole milktart, screw you, if you can't look after yourself than suffer consequences and if you have a medical condition, prove it with a letter from the Doc. Discrimination my nice round bubble butt a$..."

Maria Ferreira - "If your bag weighs more than 20kg you pay per kg extra... right? 
So if a passenger weighs more than 100kg then they should also pay per kg extra...."

Monique Naude - "It is a tricky situation... I am pro, as I believe kids should not need to pay the full cost. I come in well under 90-100kg, so I would benefit too. I also see the point made by the Big and Talls, especially those who do body building, rugby and so on. Muscle weighs more than fat, it is a fact. I also don't think it is fair that I pay the same price for a local flight if I only take on a single bag as hand luggage for an entire week in another town. Perhaps weighing in with your bag is not such a bad idea. But, the next issue becomes public weigh ins the duration of your stay... The longer you stay, the more clothes you pack. Perhaps an airline willing to base their sales on weight from day one would be a good trial run? It could just push the "lazies and indulgents" to change their habits, in order to make use of airfares based on weight..."

Russell Scorer - "I am 100% in favour of charging fatties over say 95kg a penalty per kg. Airlines should also be much stricter on passengers boarding with excess hand luggage. This is a demonstration of absolute selfishness and severely impacts those of us who take the trouble to comply with only one item of hand luggage weighing max 7kg.
Not only do we, while boarding, struggle to find overhead space for our one item, we have to wait patiently while the offenders frantically block the aisle trying to fit their load into the overhead compartments."

Fritz Claassen - "Human rights and lifestyle consequences should not be mixed up. Do not discriminate against race, gender, age, sexual orientation, but if someone is fat (overweight if you want to be PC), in more than 95%of cases, it is a result of eating too much and exercising too little.To indirectly penalize healthy weight passengers by charging overweight passengers the same fees ( remember, they cost more in terms of fuel, and they occupy more volume in the cabin) is not fair.

Case in point: I flew with my wife and son (younger than 2), and had to pay 2,5 times for two seats(my son had to sit on our lap). The gentleman occupying the 3rd seat in our row was so large, that an extender to the normal safety belt had to be used to fit around him. He weighed approximately 160kgs, and with his 20kg of luggage totaled 180kgs. I weigh 80, my wife 50, my son 10, our max luggage would be 50 (20+20+10)kgs, so our combined weight was 190. In theory we paid 2,5x what this gentleman did for 10 more kg's in weight. To add to this, he also occupied a third of my seat. Not fair.

If fat people can afford the extra food to maintain their weight, certainly they should be able to afford the extra cost of flying by weight."

Wayne Jeftha - "Allow me to start off by saying that I am by no means a small bloke; I am 1.87m tall and weigh in at 108kg, but with 29% fat on my body. This probably makes me a more muscular type of person than the average overweight passenger we dread sharing a seat with. Needless to say, I am in favour of charging based on weight (I am sure my company will be less inclined to make me fly....lol) and I agree that this will force people to live a healthier lifestyle. 

My biggest issue is thus not the weight issue, but more so a space issue and I feel that airlines are already discriminating against us by forcing all of us into tiny little seats that children barely fit into. I always ask for the emergency exit seats when checking onto the flight and I hardly ever manage to get the extra leg room I need to make me a bit more comfortable. The most disheartening thing is that more often than not you find really smaller than average people occupying these seats; this I feel should be better controlled by the airlines where people less than say 1.6m should not even be considered for these seats.

Very often I find myself squashed into a seat and I swear that once I have wedged my legs in, I am unable to move whether I wear my seatbelt or not. I don't even want to go down the route of the passenger in front on you feeling the need to recline his seat. I think airlines should have a long look at how many seats they cram into an aircraft and together with the weight restrictions I am sure that this combination will prove to be more economically viable."

Pine Pienaar - "I think it is a great idea to weigh the passengers. The airline should charge you for a fixed weight per Kilogram for passenger plus luggage. They should then give you a discount per kilo below the fixed rate (say 90kg) and charge you more per kilogram above 90 kg. They should also seat the passengers in weight categories, this way the overweight people can squeeze each other and not overflow into a thin persons seat.

Sandy Wallis - "Yes, it is definitely fair to weigh the person and their luggage! I have had some flight nightmares caused by people leaning over into my seat, and they always seem to have huge pieces of hand luggage as well ! They talk about a persons "rights" what about MY right to have the seat I paid for to myself?"

Phaks Mvelashe - If insurance companies can discriminate against gender and age not forgetting where you live, why can't the air travel industry do so?

Read more on:    flights  |  airplanes  |  travel south africa
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