Wow, there have been quite a few stories concerning weight and air travel in the news these last few days.

Air India is threatening to ground cabin crew members who are found with “improper measurements” after staff are forced to attend compulsory medical check-ups throughout April. The required check-ups will target crew members over 40 and anyone found with a body mass index (BMI) deemed “outside regulation” will be grounded and assigned to other duties. As per the Sunday Times:

Staff have retaliated by demanding free gym membership, saying the company offered it in in the past but has not provided it for more than 10 years. India’s national carrier has long been the butt of jokes about its “matronly” stewardesses, many of whom are over 40 and who can fly until they are 58. Officials say the company wants to alter the public’s perception that cabin staff are tired and inefficient.

Meanwhile, Samoa Air has released details on their new fare by passenger weight policy. They proudly proclaim on their homepage “We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair, by charging our passengers only for what they weigh. You are the master of your Air’fair’, you decide how much (or little) your ticket will cost. No more exorbitant excess baggage fees, or being charged for baggage you may not carry. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple. The Sky’s the Limit!” ABC News reports:

“Airplanes don’t run on seats, they run on weight,” Samoa Air’s Chief Executive, Chris Langton, told Radio Australia. If any airline were to try a pay-what-you-weigh policy, Samoa Air would make perfect sense. Obesity is a major problem in the Pacific islands. The World Health Organization reported in 2010 that 80 percent of women in American Samoa were obese. A section of the airline’s web site titled “How does pay what you weigh work?” outlines the steps in determining a passengers final airfare.

Step 1. Select ‘book online’, and choose your flight
Step 2. Enter your details, including your estimated weight(s) of passengers and baggage
Step 3. Your airfare is then calculated using your weight.
Step 4. You travel happy, knowing full well that you are only paying for exactly what you weigh… nothing more.

And how does the airline guard against people entering their high school weight as opposed to their actual weight? That’s where the getting weighed by a stranger at the airport comes in.”Booking a flight with us is as easy as inputting your approximate weight into our online booking engine (don’t worry, we will weigh you again at the airport) – you then can prepay your ‘guesstimate’, guaranteeing you that much weight is allocated to you for that flight,” the site reads.”People who have been most pleasantly surprised are families because we don’t charge based on seat requirement even though a child is required to have a seat,” Langton said. “We just weigh them. So a family of two adults and maybe a couple of mid-sized kids or younger children can travel for considerably less than what they were being charged before.” Samoa Air flies from Samoa to American Samoa, North Tonga, Niue, North Cook Islands and French Polynesia. The airline does not fly large commercial aircraft, but rather small planes that are more susceptible to weight variances. And while Langton said there’s “no doubt in my mind this is the concept of the future,” it will likely take major carriers quite awhile to warm up to the concept, if they ever do.

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jason April 4, 2013 - 2:19 pm

How about Air India’s crew start taking showers daily and wear deodorant as well?

Armand April 4, 2013 - 7:05 pm

The bright side is that the “matronly” stewardesses at Air India can retire at 58 and go to work at United. Now there’s an airline that should weigh the crew before putting passengers on the scale.

ikonos April 4, 2013 - 9:33 pm

@jason Have you lived in places where temperatures are routinely around 100F and get up to 120F in summer? No amount of showers and deodorants are going to stop the sweat and the ensuing smell. It is wise to think once in a while from opposite perspective.

Steve April 5, 2013 - 6:17 am

I, for one, am in favor of the pay by weight model. The concept is sound – many of the airline’s costs are based on the weight that it is carrying, whether that is the weight of the passengers or the weight of their luggage. There are some logistical difficulties to actually implementing a pay by weight system for a large airline, of course, but it would be interesting to see it done.

Many have brought up the argument that this is discriminitory against tall people, as they can be within normal weight, but still have to pay more than someone who is short and within normal weight. That would be a fair argument, except that the pay by weight system is not intended to enforce healthy and within-norm weights for airline passengers. It’s not about paying extra because you are overweight. It’s about paying for a load to be carried. Sure, you’re at a disadvantage if you are taller – but you’re also at a disadvantage when going through a short door if you are tall. You learn to deal with it.

This seems like a straightforward way to charge for airfare – it would be interesting to see it take off.

Mithra12 June 26, 2013 - 3:31 am

I dont go with this Air India’s idea .This is not at all fare.How come this possible for their crew to implement?


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