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# Airfares by weight

Why not charge airfares based on all-up weight?
 (+11, -7) [vote for, against]

Doesn’t it strike you as odd that you get charged for overweight luggage and yet passengers are not weighed? If more weight equals more fuel consumed by the aeroplane (reasonable enough assertion) why only charge for overweight baggage? And overweight baggage is charged at, get this, 1% of the first class fare per kilo. It strikes me that someone weighing only 55kgs with 30kgs of baggage should not pay more than someone weighing 90kgs with 20kgs of baggage, since the former is still going to use less fuel.

If weighing baggage is critical for the loading of the plane then surely so is the weight of the passengers. I know that the algorithm for seat allocation tries to allocate seats evenly round the plane but what if a rugby team want to sit to together (oh lordy!) and a bunch of ballerinas also want to sit together and understandably as far from the rugby players as possible, this must surely have more of an impact on balance. If the weight distribution around the cabin was known, the pilots could trim the plane accordingly.

So I suggest that an air-ticket should be for an all-up weight of say 100kgs; any more is charged extra and refunds given to lighter loads - or even allow the trading of weights amongst the passengers.

Before anyone claims that I must be biased, I have to say that I’d lose out with this system, weighing in at a rather portly 90kgs but after all, fair’s fair.

 — Gordon Comstock, Feb 23 2001

(?) Southwest to charge large passengers extra http://www.washtime...20020619-692750.htm
Semi-baked by Southwest and United Airlines, according to this article. [wiml, Jun 21 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Samoa Air http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-22001256
[not_morrison_rm, Apr 02 2013]

[link]

 Excellent idea. I remember thinking of this myself, some time ago, but foolishly never considered entering it into the halfbakery.

 I suspect there may be an outcry from "heavy boned" persons, accompanied by accusations of discrimination, but, as you say, fair's fair, and I weigh 90 kilos too.

Airport departure lounges would become entertaining places, filled with large people with tiny cases, and small people struggling with mountainous heaps of baggage.
 — Lemon, Feb 23 2001

Worse than that - airline travellers with food related problems could sue for either aggrevating or creating their medical condition.
 — Aristotle, Feb 23 2001

 So why charge extra for overweight luggage? Some might be lighter, some heavier.

As an aside, why, when you fly business, do you get 30Kg, when most business travellers probably don't even check in baggage?
 — Gordon Comstock, Feb 23 2001

 Specifically, if you charge people extra for overweight baggage, they will tend not to carry overweight baggage; the market there is flexible. If you charge people extra for being overweight themselves, they're not going to go on a diet just to save plane fares; they'll just grumble a lot.

Besides, airlines are dominated by fixed costs, not incremental costs.
 — egnor, Feb 23 2001

 Then there's the problem of bulk, which is probably at least as important as weight for airlines. A cabin can't comfortably fit more people than it currently does even if they're scrawny.

 There's also an issue with knowing what to charge someone. Most tickets aren't sold by airlines at the airport; weighing people before charging them would be a huge logistical problem.

 And there's another one with adoption by the industry. If one carrier does it, they are likely to more or less instantly go bust; and there's no way to get everyone to do it at once.

(It's true that most crowds weigh about the same, but they've been getting a little heavier in a lot of places. I wonder whether airlines have noticed that the American population, for instance, has been getting chubbier.)
 — Monkfish, Feb 23 2001

This whole discussion begs the question, "Does extra weight cost more because of the extra fuel it requires?" I've never heard that excuse from the airlines, not that I have asked or they have offered. Couldn't it be that the Baggage Handler's Union (or whatever) requires extra pay for extra heavy baggage?
 — centauri, Feb 23 2001

 I think the fee for extra baggage has to do with the fact that airlines would be in trouble if everyone carried too much baggage; this provides a way to accommodate those who need to bring more baggage than the plane could handle from everyone.

 See my own post on carry-on luggage space.

Additionally, note that luggage needs to be handled by airline personnel. By contrast, people generally move themselves onto and off of the plane.
 — supercat, Feb 24 2001

 What?!?

Think of the children. Lightwight and portable, they are...I imagine most seats will finally break due to the constant kicking.
 — bens, Jun 21 2002

 Principle: Fare should reflect the cost of carriage.

 Extra fuel cost on large pax may be outweighed by marketing/ PR problems caused by the tariff calculation. That's why it isn't done.

 Why is excess baggage limited/charged? - Because unlike a person's weight, there is no limit on how much baggage someone might bring. e.g. a person with 100T of freight, labeled 'personal baggage'.

 With pax, a jumbo-sized population of people can (generally)be assumed to have a mean weight, within certain bounds.

 In smaller A/C, _sometimes_ pax weight _is_ charged for. I'm a pilot, and have flown in the Far East, where people are smaller. I once saw a 350lb pax turn up with a large duffel bag for a flight in a Cessna 152 (designed as 2 seat, min baggage) and over mountains too. The A/C would have been over max gross T/O weight with him alone, and half fuel, let alone with a pilot on board. He was told that due to A/C limitations, he would have to pay for a more expensive A/C (Cessna 172-M, 4 seat) or take the bus.

Sorry, but FAA regs and the Laws of Physics bend for nobody (except Douglas Adams).
 — FloridaManatee, Jan 01 2003

I've always thought that this would be a good idea. Problem is always gonna be how to enforce it tho'. Weighing people individually in an already huge check-in queue would mean that you would have to turn up a couple of days early to have time to get thru' security, weigh-in and p.port control (god (allah) help you if your of non-white persuasion,it could take weeks). Perhaps the way (weigh) to go would be to sell tickets that are allocated within 'weight bands'. So, if for example you weigh 100kg. and you want to take 30kg of luggage your ticket would cost 'x' amount. And if like my partner, you weigh 46kg in your socks and want to carry 10kg you would get charged 'y' amount. Its then up to the passenger to be at a suitable weight when they show up, or pay the excess and move into the next 'band'. It would also have a side effect of encouraging people to be more aware of their personal weight, wich in these days of fast-food gluttony can't be a bad thing. At the end of the day, it can't be right to have the same price for a 50kg person as it is for a 120kg person. Or....you can go business class. Once, flying back from central asia with about 100kg of climbing/camping kit, I found it was cheaper to go business with Uzbeki Air (no weight limit!), than to fly economy with Thai and have to pay the excess. After 3 months up a mountain I did look a bit skanky tho', and got fully treated like a drug dealer by the cabin staff, and other business class passengers, most of whom looked like bloody arms dealers.....
 — briandamage, Jan 01 2003

Hilarious take on this, about flying while laterally unchallenged http://www.joebobbriggs.com/jbamerica/2002/jba20020801.html
 — arfbaked, Jun 20 2003

its not funny enough to bother shifting it to the link button.
 — po, Jun 20 2003

This idea of course 'stinks like a fish'. I should sit on you for even considering mentioning it. I like briandamages idea about this keeping people aware of their own weight though.
 — thecat, Jun 20 2003

This is a great idea, after all every other business does this already, If you really think about it...Go to a restraunt, if you order dessert is that not and extra charge, shipping anything cost more if its bigger, bigger cars generally cost more, and cost more to fuel, groceries cost more for bigger people because they probobly buy more, this is no different, just a little hard to imagine, Fair is Fair,
 — speeder, Dec 12 2003

Thin people should be charged more than fat people, because they leave seats emptier and cause inefficiency.
 — phundug, Dec 12 2003

I really dont see this working on a personal level with the American over weight. Being over weight is becoming more and prevelent in America and i doubt the people in question would alow themselves to be weighed or charged for that matter. I know i would put up a fuss if someone said i have to pay extra due to my height, however being 6'3 i know i create a certain level of discomfort for my fellow passengers due to my build. And what of limits how fat or tall is to fat or tall to fly.
 — nathangk, May 19 2004

 This idea gets tossed around quite a bit and it always faces the same fairness objections. I think I have a solution.

 After everyone is seated and the plane is ready to go, before take-off the plane is weighed, the vehicle, crew, fuel and cargo weight are subtracted, and the remaining passenger weight is divided by the number of passengers. The resulting number is used to determine the price of the ticket on that flight, and passengers' credit cards will be charged or refunded accordingly.

Using this method everyone pays the same amount.
 — tatterdemalion, Mar 31 2013

 In a distinctly weird case of real life imitating HB, on the Beeb news today "The head of Samoa Air has defended the airline's decision to start charging passengers according to their weight" ..which is exactly the same scheme as proposed above, down to to even include including the luggage. see link.

Suggest Mr Comstock gets on to his IP lawyers post haste.
 — not_morrison_rm, Apr 02 2013

 The cost of flying is related to the overall weight of the plane, fuel, passengers, crew, luggage, cargo, and other incidental supplies,

 Add to those costs, additionally, the administrative cost of running an airline, such as repairs, airline employees wages, taxes, retirement plans and healthcare, advertising, office supplies, aircraft acquisition, etc.

 If you want to charge additional for fat people, fine, but fairly it ought to be related only to the proportion of fuel costs required to carry their weight, and not the fuel required to carry the weight of the plane, or the overhead for running the airline.

 I imagine that logically, exceedingly fat people ought to be charged 5 or 10 percent more.

The reason that it is fair to charge luggage by weight is that partly fuel, but also partly because luggage displaces potential cargo space. Plus its a way to gouge customers.
 — Kansan101, Apr 02 2013

 //and not the fuel required to carry the weight of the plane

 Erm, if they only put in enough fuel to carry the weight of the passengers, then it won't get there.

 From the point of view of a skinny person who always has too much luggage (it's a knack) surely the weight of the passenger is the main thing?

 The plane uses the engines to get enough speed so the lift counteracts the total weight and thing takes off and continues to do the "altimeter readings being consistently above zero" bit which pilots so obsess over.

 If the passengers are all skinny then it would use less fuel.

 Quick back of the fag packet calculation yer actual Boing 747 weighs 162,400 kg and can carry 550 passengers.

If we assume skinny buggers (including their luggage) at 90 kg that's 30% of the weight of the plane. Somewhat less gracile @ 150kg = 51% of the weight of the plane. So, 21% more to lift.
 — not_morrison_rm, Apr 02 2013

 The Post already has a system of varying size/weight charges.

I doubt this was a novel idea even in 2001.
 — FlyingToaster, Apr 02 2013

 //novel idea even in 2001

 I think the current problem is not that it isn't novel, just Samoan Airlines are actually doing it.

Weirdos. Constructing their business plan from ideas off the Halfbakery. I warned 'em against the beanangel bits, but would they listen?
 — not_morrison_rm, Apr 03 2013

I saw it on the news last night and I think it is somewhat of a reasonable idea. It would people incentive to lose weight and I could maybe wear a two-piece bathing suit on my holiday! There should be a total weight including body plus luggage. They already charge extra for luggage over a certain weight.
 — xandram, Apr 04 2013

[not_morrison_rm] - duly noted. I'm putting Sue, Grabbit and Runne on to the case.
 — Gordon Comstock, Apr 12 2013

 Airline tickets are already quite confusing, this would stir it up even more.

 Depending on when one purchases the ticket, two people sitting right next to one another can pay prices that vary by hundreds (pounds, dollars, whatever).

Toss in the weight factor, and it's even more bizarre. Bun.
 — whlanteigne, Apr 12 2013

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