Pay What You Weigh: What Do You Think?


So recently, Samoa Air introduced “Pay What You Weigh” pricing.  Basically, each kilogram that you weigh costs 93 cents.  So, if you’re an average-weight American male, you pay about 40 dollars less than the typical airline rate.  So yes, a tricky way of both encouraging people to fly Samoa air and stay healthy.  Mmmmk.  A couple of things:

  1. This is a Samoan airline.  In Samoa, I’m willing to bet they don’t have the obesity and eating disorder problem that we seem to have here in the US; it’s been reported that the pricing seems to be going just swimmingly there.*  I’m also willing to bet it would be met by cries out outrage here in the U.S.  Some of those cries might be mine (see the next number).
  2. What about people like my partner, who is gorgeous and tall and naturally weighs more because he’s tall?  They have to pay more?  That sucks.  That’s where the motivation to be healthy doesn’t add up – you can be healthy AND weigh more.
  3. Plus the fact that yes, it could  be embarrassing, humiliating, or triggering to some.  Weight is a private issue for some people.  I do think that airlines need to collectively come up with a solution to seating obese individuals, but I’m not sure weighing them is the answer.  That’s usually reserved for a doctor’s office or the Ground Round circa 1985, during their “Pay What You Weigh” dinner era (shudder).
  4. Aaaand…is it proper to basically financially penalize someone because they weigh more than the next passenger?  Isn’t that insulting?  Isn’t that basically shaming people for weighing more?

What do you think?

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* Those flying Samoa Air are always weighed before boarding because the planes flying there are so small.

8 thoughts on “Pay What You Weigh: What Do You Think?

  1. I’m in two minds about this because I have ED and can never weigh little enough. I would kick up the starvation a notch before a flight if I knew this was coming! I do feel that the rather huge people who spill over onto my seat because they are too big to fit in one seat, are a bit of a problem. I would rather encourage airlines to make seats bigger, with more leg room and space for everyone’s comfort. I am 5’9″ and can barely contort myself into that seat for long haul flights. I can’t imagine how excruciating it is for people who are bigger and by bigger I don’t mean obese! Flying is just so hideously uncomfortable but I keep doing it because I love traveling and going home to see my family.

    1. Word to the bigger seats; I’m just 5’7″ and they’re still too small! I also relate to your comment about starving yourself before the flight – my automatic thought was, “Wow, it would be a great motivation to lose weight!”

  2. Weight and balance is a very particular, difficult thing on those tiny aircraft. They are going to be able to carry fewer people and less other stuff when they carry heavier people, no matter what the situation. It’s just how it is, which is upsetting and frustrating for those who can be triggered by such matters. I know Cape Air, who flies little props around New England in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter, does not charge by weight but gets passenger weight prior to take off to properly plan their flights. They do it sensitively and discreetly but they simply -must- do it for safety. They usually ask the passenger quietly, if I recall correctly, but have a scale available too – again off to the side/not in open sight of all in the terminal.

    If airlines operating larger aircraft started making this a practice it would blow up in their face. They’re carrying freight alongside baggage and people. They can sort out weight and balance via other means than getting every passenger’s weight and there’s no excuse for them making a ‘thing’ about it. I hope some of this made sense – I am agreeing that it could be beyond upsetting and feel punishing yet I can see why an airline with smaller aircraft might need a system like this.

    1. This absolutely made sense! I was looking for facts like this. It’s interesting how the media spins it – it seems like a necessity for smaller airlines, but they made it seem like it was a personal insult. Interesting.

  3. While I understand why an airline might do this, the thought of it makes me sick to my stomach. I know that if it were implemented here in the US, I would probably either have a complete relapse of my eating disorder, or simply stop flying.

  4. I actually approve if this idea. I’ve spent years travelling to abroad to work. So a standard twenty kilos case isnt enough luggage. An extra 20kg case costs around another £80 with most airlines. For the past 5 years I’ve weighed I’ve always weighed something between 40kg and 48kg. Most other adult passengers weigh 10, 20 or even 30kg kore than this. I think instead of tickets being cheaper by age, I think they should be sold in weiht brackets, afterall you average 12-15 yearold boy will get a concession ticket but will be weigh more than me.I’m not saying it should he exactly cost per kilo but maybe a price alteration for every 3-5kg could work. I also think a combined person/luggage weight cost could be establashed, e.g instead of saying everyone can take 20kg luggage say everyone can have a combined person/luggage weight of 80kgs. Just a thought I’ve had many times stood in a check in line behind someone twice my weight while knowing I’d payed kore than them to fly even thouh if you add me to my luggage and the person infront to theirsmi would definetly still be lighter!

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