Why Airlines Should Start Charging Overweight Customers By The Pound

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by sobore, Mar 13, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://articles.businessinsider.com...ight-allowance-obese-people-fellow-passengers

    We are getting fatter. In Australia, the United States, and many other countries, it has become commonplace to see people so fat that they waddle rather than walk. The rise in obesity is steepest in the developed world, but it is occurring in middle-income and poor countries as well.

    Is a person’s weight his or her own business? Should we simply become more accepting of diverse body shapes? I don’t think so. Obesity is an ethical issue, because an increase in weight by some imposes costs on others.

    http://articles.businessinsider.com...ight-allowance-obese-people-fellow-passengers
     
  2. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    It's all about lifestyle and choices. It's all about how a society or even our whole planet functions, from the bottom up eg. food chain via education and again, lifestyle!

    Regarding the aviation industry and obesity, it's something they have known for years or even for decades in the making. IMHO, they look simply too add another charge on to flyers, obesity or not. The whole world must wake up to this problem and do not penalize people for living the life with or without a choice and this includes the aviation sector as a whole. Sad enough that obesity is so very common right now and also very sad that literally everything incl. a human life is now balanced against cost.
     
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  3. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    If my family members are any indication, it's largely a lifestyle choice in many cases...very frustrating to see it... being a few pounds overweight is one thing, but obesity/morbid obesity is a disaster. It has become an endemic problem that stresses the healthcare system and all sorts of other things that communities, individuals, busineses, governments, etc. pay for.

    As someone who is average size, I fit in an airline seat with no issue. That said, if someone flying makes the lifestyle choices that equate to being obese, that's more weight an aircraft has to carry...I'm not sure I'd be opposed to them having to pay more for taking up more space...
     
  4. nova

    nova Silver Member

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    I tell you, people gripe and grouse about this fee and that fee and keep crying for the Feds to do something about it. If they keep it up, airlines are going to start charging by the pound.

    You'll pay something like a seat access fee that will be equal to some percentage of the cost to fly an empty seat across country. When you get to the airport you'll weigh in and be charged a fee based on flight length and your total weight inclusive of luggage of any type.

    And people will gripe and grouse about that even worse but in the end, the per weight fare will be more defensible than any other because it will be a fee directly tied to how much it costs to fly your butt across the country since more weight = more fuel burn.
     
  5. thrashsoundly
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    thrashsoundly Silver Member

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    This is certainly an interesting topic, but if travelers are assessed fees based on weight, how do you set what is considered "normal" and "overweight?" Any ideas?

    BMI is a method, but is also an outdated and poor measure unless your body size is statistically average within a standard deviation. For example, I'm 6' 8" and 230 pounds, which is deemed 2 pounds overweight by BMI, but I'm far from fat. But is 230 pounds enough to asses a fee even though I don't encroach on the space of my neighbors?

    I suppose TSA pat-downs could include weight and body fat measurements, but that would be more invasive than the usual massage.

    Assessing fees per total weight as a type of cargo method is plausible, but it seems like it would be an avenue for other social and ethical problems. For example, say a business wants to hire a travelling sales rep and one applicant is larger than another but more qualified. Of course it's "illegal" to discriminate, but the business might choose the smaller person for the job simply because it would cost them less to send the rep around the country.
     
  6. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    Yes.

    Once we begin to concern ourselves about personal aspects of other people then we are on a slippery slope. While it's easy to make a suggestion like this on an anonymous internet forum, I doubt very much whether you would like to open your personal life to the kind of scrutiny needed for the rest of us to determine whether you could be argued to be imposing some kind of cost on society.
     
  7. Dangjr213

    Dangjr213 Gold Member

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    I didn't think it was possible for the TSA to be viewed as any more invasive...
     
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  8. bonnerbl
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    bonnerbl Gold Member

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    I would phase the question a little differently. Is a person's inability to fit within the confines of their own seat his or her own business? No it isn't. Don't care what you weigh. But I do care when you lop over and appropriate the space I paid for.
     
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  9. cordray2643
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    cordray2643 Silver Member

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    Where'
    Where's the dislike button?

    Lifestyle choices are just that choices. We live in a free country. I would much rather sit next to a "hefty" person on a plane that a mean, grouchy one. But I guess that is a choice that I make as well, or maybe a preference.

    I think this entire conversation is a slippery slope.

    BTW, I would be okay to start charging a fee for passengers that choose a window seat and go to the bathroom more than once per hour on a plane!
     
  10. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    This just in: AA has asked the bAAnkruptcy court for permission to restructure its mileage redemption levels: now proposed are four levels, up from the current two: (1) AAnytime, for which mileage levels will be higher than currently; (2) AAnytime Fit, which will require a weigh-in before putting back on shoes and belt at the T.S.A. Station; (3) MilesAAver, with higher redemption levels than is currently the case, plus AAdvance booking no less than 90 days before travel (waiting period waived for AAdvantage Platinum and Executive Platinum members, and, until 12/31/12, for AAdvantage Gold) (4) UltrAA Fit, with the same restrictions as MilesAAver, but the requirement of a weigh-in after clearing T.S.A., plus 50 push-ups and a treadmill stress test.

    Just kidding, of course. And I am not overweight and get as annoyed as anyone watching people's lifestyles ruin their health. But seriously, can this fat-fare idea really be enforced?
     
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  11. emajy
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    emajy Silver Member

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    If you need a seat belt extender you should pay for a second seat. Got stuck next to a woman who made the armrest disappear and took about 1/3 of my seat.
     
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  12. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    That is a different question. I do think some accommodation needs to be made for people who are physically too large to sit in a single seat.
     
  13. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    Presumably, if the OPs plan were enacted, overweight passengers, being of higher per capita value to the airline, would have preference in redemptions.
     
  14. cwpfly

    cwpfly Silver Member

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    Personally, I view this as similar to the USPS flat-rate box - if you fit, you ship! Frankly, I think that the WN passenger of size policy is the most fair to the passenger and the airline.
     
  15. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    What happens in an emergency? Could you imagine the challenge of evacuating an airplane because someone too large to fly is impeding everyone's progress? I recall recently on a flight there was a poor lady who would have easily taken up 2 entire seats and they had trouble getting her into a wheelchair at the gate. Interestingly, they put her all the way into the back of the plane. Wonder if that was with emergency evacuation possibility in mind.
     
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  16. Clocktower
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    Clocktower Silver Member

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    I'm a little surprised we don't ALL pay by the pound. After all, we all cost the airlines by the pound, other things being equal.

    The airlines have some flat costs that are more or less the same for all passengers (in the same class of seat at least) for each flight. Then, they have variable costs (gas being the biggest) that vary by passenger size. They average it all out when they price things for simplicity, but I wouldn't be opposed if they didn't.

    Let's say you pay a flat charge per class of seat.. $50 coach, $75 business, $110 first (just picking numbers). Then, just before boarding, you and your luggage get on a scale (since it's presumably going with you, at least a carry-on). A per-pound rate is then added to your bill. I'd be fine with that. I weigh over 200lbs. My wife is much (MUCH) slimmer. But, I bet including luggage I'd be the cheaper fare. :D

    People are arguing what's "fair" and isn't. It's not about fairness, it's about physics. The airlines don't get to suspend Newton's laws because gee willikers, it's just not fair.

    I am reminded this story we were forced to read in grade school:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cold_Equations
     
  17. kansaskeith

    kansaskeith Gold Member

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    OK, but just to clarify, since we all cost the airlines by the pound, under this logic the airlines will also restore the strict flight attendant weigh-in requirements of the 1950s, correct? Uh oh. :)
     
  18. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    I have celiac disease. It took out my thyroid, basically. For years, everyone assumed my obesity was what I ate. Granted, some of my weight is, but there's an underlying reason for that that wasn't suspected, and I'd have been obese even without those food choices.

    Weirdly, when someone gets advanced malnutrition, they can gain weight, especially in combination with a non-working thyroid. A lot of that weight isn't fat, though. The body loses the ability to retain fluid in blood cells, for example, leading to puffiness in hands, feet, etc. Fat compresses, fluid does not.

    Further, many of us have elevated zonulin levels, meaning that our intestinal wall has opened up. The short version of what this means is that when a normal person eats x calories and digests x calories, we get y calories out of it, which is a number larger than x. I wrote about that here and here. My hypothesis is that dieting can trigger zonulin elevation, which opens up a whole host of badness, including making it more difficult to lose weight or keep weight off.

    Side note: when you lose 15 pounds going on prednisone, you know your body's just screwed up.
     
  19. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    There are those with completely valid medical reasons for weight issues. The sad part is this does not apply to many who are obese...not everyone needs to be the size of a 2x4, but it is major health issue.
     
  20. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    True, and no question. However, I think zonulin inhibitors (currently under development) may play a bigger role in effective weight loss than willpower in most cases.

    These days, pilots do know what the weight of their planes are (at least the regional jets sure seem to), so it seems like adding a lot of computational complexity and loss of customer goodwill for little gain for the effort.

    Also: how do you charge everyone for luggage but not charge for medical devices? I carry my CPAP in my carry-on, but it's not technically part of my carry-on. Not a big deal, but a wheelchair could be significant weight.
     
  21. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    My solution is similar but has a differing measuring device. Personally, I am slightly over 200 pounds and 5'8" which puts me about 40 pounds overweight. But because I have been lifting weights for the past few years, a lot is muscle. I can easily fit into the seat without an extender. But my shoulders are wide.

    I think that rather than poundage, the airlines should charge by width and include baggage. So, if I buy a ticket and my waist is 35" and I have a carryon that is 20" or 22", I have a total of 55". So if you have a waist of 30" but have a 20" carryon PLUS a laptop bag that is 17" you would have a total of 67". And if you are tiny with a waist of 24" and have a carryon of 20" and purse that is 19" you would be at 55". This would possibly make the excessive Carryon problem non existent.
     
  22. FlyingBear
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    FlyingBear Silver Member

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    With personal choices come personal responsibilities. Overflowing into a seat that majority of the people fit into just fine and invading OTHER's personal space is a good hint that it's not just "personal" anymore. The slippery slope that you are advocating is akin to saying that we should not take drunken people off the roads, because after all, it is a personal choice!

    While your situation obviously has a medical explanation, it is far out of the norm that is being discussed here. I think your situation can highlight some of the challenges of addressing what OP suggested, but it would be wrong to suggest that it applies to the majority cases.
     
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  23. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    I know I am an outlier, actually, essentially alluded to with the "screwed up" line. But....

    There's an awful lot of shame-making going on regarding obesity that says it is merely a matter of willpower. I think that's a lot less true than is generally credited, and it was that sentiment that I was more responding to.

    Here's what I think is happening: we're eating a lot fewer foods than we ever were at any point in the past, and I suspect there's systemic nutritional shortages going on in most people, but especially people who rely overly much on fast food. Couple that with a lack of good policy about education on health and listening too much to companies who have too much to gain.

    It is known that there are two things that tend to happen with people who have systemic malnutrition: a) hunger; b) weight gain as a side effect of the hunger. I think zonulin is a third thing, but I haven't seen any studies on that, so it's only a hypothesis (if I had the money to fund such a study...). I know too well that sugar can be a very easy bandaid for that hunger. So, what I'm saying is I think the obesity epidemic is more about industrial-food-based malnutrition (and lack of education, also a side effect of our food policy) than it is willpower.

    Also: soy slows down thyroid, and it's used a lot and that doesn't help, either.

    None of which affects airline seat pricing directly, it's just part of my general rantiness of people who look at me and make assumptions about what I must have had for lunch.

    Yeah, we have an organic garden and grow a lot of food. Some of that, I can't eat (but other members of the household can).
     
  24. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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  25. USAF_Pride
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    USAF_Pride Gold Member

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    Are we talking about RyanAir?
     

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