Airline where fliers pay by their weight
A tiny airline is offering a new reason to lose weight before your next trip - tickets sold not by the seat, but by the kilogram. Samoa Air has to...
A tiny airline is offering a new reason to lose weight before your next trip - tickets sold not by the seat, but by the kilogram. Samoa Air has to start pricing its first international flights based on the weight of its passengers and their bags. Depending on the flight, each kilogram (2.2 pounds) costs 93 cents (62 pence) to 1.06 US dollars (70 pence).
That means the average American man weighing 195 pounds with a 35 pound bag would pay 97 dollars (A�64) to go one-way between Apia, Samoa, and Pago Pago, American Samoa. Competitors typically charge 130 dollars (A�82) to 140 dollars (A�93) for similar routes.
The weight-based pricing is not new to the airline, which was launched in June. It has been using the model since November, but in January the US Department of Transportation approved its international route between American Samoa and Samoa.
The airline's chief executive, Chris Langton, said that "planes are run by weight and not by seat, and travellers should be educated on this important issue."The plane can only carry a certain weight and that weight needs to be paid. There is no other way." Langton, a pilot himself, said when he flew for other airlines, he brought up the idea to his bosses to charge by weight, but they considered it too sensitive an issue to address. Langton said passengers who need more room will be given one row on the plane to ensure comfort.
Langton said that families with children were now paying cheaper fares. 'There are no extra fees in terms of excess baggage - it is just a kilo is a kilo is a kilo,' he said. Passengers can also add their baggage weight on - there are no separate fees because of excess baggage.
Two 20-inch seats will be installed on each side of the aisle, sacrificing the space for three regular 18-inch seats on board the A320 - on Boeing aircraft standard seats are 17 inches. Extra-large passengers will be able to purchase extra-large seats at an added cost, which will likely prove lucrative to the air travel industry.
Airlines could make as much as $3 million extra in profits over a 15-year period, according to the Huffington Post. The new pricing system would make Samoa Air the first to charge strictly by weight, a change that David Vaeafe, Executive Director of American Samoa Visitors Bureau, said is "in many ways... a fair concept for passengers". He said: "For example, a 12- 13-year-old passenger, who is small in size and weight, won't have to pay an adult fare.
Langton said the airline had received mixed responses from overseas travellers since it began promoting the pricing on its website and Facebook page. He said some passengers had been surprised, but no one has refused to be weighed yet. Health officials in American Samoa were among the first to contact the airline when the pricing structure was announced.
"They want to ride on the awareness this is raising and use it as a medium to address obesity issues," he said. Islands in the Pacific have the highest rates of obesity in the world. According to a World Health Organisation study, 86% of Samoans are overweight, the fourth worst among all nations. In comparison, the same study found that 69% of Americans were overweight, 61% of Australians, and 22% of Japanese.