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Samoa Air Charges Passengers by Weight, Reduces Fuel Consumption


samoa-airOne way of not going bankrupt is to cut expenses. The other way is to see things differently and attract more customers. Samoa Air has chosen the second way of doing things by charging airplane passengers based on their weight – the fatter you are, the more you pay – and it seems fair enough to me.

Based in the Samoa Islands in the Pacific, the airline even includes a calculator on their website to let users know upfront the amount of money that they’ll have to get out of their pockets.

Now this is a bit green, too. If you encourage people to lose weight in order to pay less (when commuting, for example), you also encourage fuel savings for your company and hence less carbon dioxide emitted.

Of course, a passenger having double the weight of another won’t will pay double, but if you weigh 100 pounds (they’ll weigh you at the airport) you will save and be greener. I think it’s a nice idea, and I thank treehugger for bringing up the topic.

So, please input your opinion on Samoa’s decision – we’re curious what our readers have to say about this.

Update: I was wrong – you will pay double if you weigh 200 pounds than the guy/gal next to you weighing 100 – just tried the calculator.

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  1. The concept would be sound if the calculator were accurate, except while obesity is a health problem, there are other reasons a person would weigh more. A big and tall person who is not in the obese category who naturally weighs more than small munchkins whose too-high metabolism eats too often/much of Earth’s resources (ie: food, etc.). The original notion was based on punishing the obese/fat people, but as the writer updated, the Airline’s calculator is flawed, thus unfair. In any business, there are several expenditures. In this case, fuel is only one part of them.
    For more accuracy of how the person’s weight costs more fuel, there should be a calculation of a basic flight cost, plus an additional fuel-use surcharge of the fuel required for both the person and their luggage including anything carried-on. A 200lb person with no luggage would pay the same as a 180lb person with 20lbs of luggage & carry-on. This would also include the weight of carry-on children that the passenger plans to not pay a ticket for and let them sit on their lap, else they would pay an additional full price ticket as if the child were an adult (the child sitting in a seat would be displacing a full price ticket paying customer, so some compensation should go to the airline business).
    To make the idea fair, and without bias/prejudice against or for anyone, a more complex calculation needs to be used, and explained up front as to what the flight costs will be. Then, the public could know the airline is just running a business and not favoritizing munchkins and penalizing  heavier-weights.
    All that convoluted effort would be moot/nullified as the general populace are not going to spend the time to read, and just vote with their feet: use other transportation that does not make a big deal about them or their weight. Too bad the airline can not give an intelligence discount: the smart-one would get a break, and the dumb/short-attention-span general public would ride elsewhere so they do not have to think.


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