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mar 27

Should Airlines Charge Passengers According to Their Weight?

Seats on a plane

A new idea by Dr. Bharat P. Bhatta would include additional fees for overweight passengers.

(Courtesy MattHurst/Flickr)

A recent article by the Daily Mail introduces a fascinating idea: if heavier planes mean higher fuel costs for airlines—and as a result, higher prices for passengers—why not charge people according to how much weight they add to the flight? In other words, those who weigh more would pay more, and those who weigh less would pay less.

Dr. Bharat P. Bhatta of Norway's Sogn og Fjordane University College covered this topic in a recent edition of the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, noting that both weight and space should be factored in when airlines are figuring out ticket prices. It makes sense—each additional pound translates to more expensive jet fuel, higher amounts of CO2 being released, and ultimately, higher costs for both the airline and the consumer. In the article, Dr. Bhatta suggests setting a series of fixed prices so people weighing over a certain amount would pay one price, while people weighing less would pay less. Other proposals include discounts for slimmer passengers, or a standard fare for everyone but with extra fees for those who are over a certain weight. Dr. Bhatta even goes so far as to suggest people weigh themselves as part of the check-in process.

I can see where he's coming from, but yikes! Aren't we paying enough already for everything we carry onto the plane (baggage fees, even carry-on fees sometimes) without having to worry about our own weight at the gate? I'm also wondering what happens if a person loses or gains weight between the day the ticket is booked (at one price) and the day of the trip (possibly another price according to weight fluctuations?). On the other hand this could be an interesting new incentive to stay in shape if there really is that much of a price difference involved.

What do you think about this proposal? Is this a smart, new, scientific approach to tackling rising airfare prices or has Dr. Bhatta's idea taken things too far? Sound off below!

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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