Should Airline Ticket Prices Reflect The Passenger's Weight Or Size?

With airline ticket prices rising and carriers charging more and more for things that used to be free, people are becoming sensitive over both what they pay for a ride and the quality of the experience relative to the cost of a ticket.

Airlines, giving as a reason the cost of fuel, are charging for bags that used to be free. However, passengers who are paying more start to notice things. Let's imagine a 120 lb woman being charged $100 for a 30 lb bag whereas a 300 lb passenger with the same ticket but no bag escaping the charge while burdening the aircraft with twice the weight.

I think anyone would have to admit that such a situation cries out for a solution.

Here's another situation. Passenger A and passenger B both paid $428 for their seats. However, passenger A is a slim $110 lb person seated next to a 440 lb person. Passenger A finds that, not only does he/she have no access to the armrest, but that the bigger person's body spreads under the armrest on to passenger A's seat. Is this fair?

What are the solutions to these two situations, if indeed there are any?

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Maybe there shouldn't be any size or weight restrictions on carry-on and checked-in luggage either.

My wife and I flew from the Philippines to the U.S., last September, carrying virtually empty suitcases. Our plan was to fill them up with stuff in the U.S. and bring them back full.

When we got to the airport for the return flight, they told us the bags were overweight and would cost over $500 to put on the plane. But, they said, we were allowed 2 luggage items each and we only had one each. If we distributed the contents into 2 more suitcases, we might escape extra charges. We didn't have any extra suitcases laying around, so they gave us a couple of boxes. We transferred stuff into the boxes but were still overweight with our original luggage! They took mercy on us and charged us just $50.00 extra instead of the much larger sum we actually should have paid.

We had all kinds of stuff that you can't buy or easily find in the Philippines: including a lot of books. I would have paid a hefty sum to get it all back here. I believe this was relatively soon after they implemented their new fees.

I was being facetious. Obviously there have to be size and weight restrictions or charges on freight, so why not people?

The body is not that complex, it's a lump of meat and some people have excess fat. That's all there is to it. And they can lose weight. It's healthy and fun, I've tried it.

Btw I think it's discrimination that I have to pay extra if my luggage weighs too much, but the fat guy behind me can have the airline company carry his gargantuan gut for free.

When did discrimination (being able to perceive the differences between things) become bad per se? There is discrimination and there is unfair discriimination. The airline can't help your height either. So, it's a bit of a tie there, isn't it?

Where does unfairness come in? If you were refused a seat or charged extra for your race, which is totally irrelevant in terms of occupying a seat, THAT would be unfair. I don't know where the unfairness comes in in your case.

I think you have to widen your question a bit to the larger economics of air travel. here in Europe I do not believe we pay the true cost of the tickets due to various local government and EU subsidies that airlines can get. then there is the real environmental cost of dump pollutants in the high atmosphere and the more local pollution from airports. After the sanity or insanity of those economic have been addressed then look at the far end of the food chain.

Also there is the question of VIP and "celebrity" fliers who rarely pay the actual cost of their flights because airlines like to get the publicity of being associated with high profile figures. One silly pop idiol and their entourage can amount to a large number of people and stunning amounts of baggage all of which are effectively being subsidised by those passengers least able to afford the most wealthy. (I have a relative who works for a major airline at Schiphol here in the Netherlands who gets rather enraged by this sycophantic practice).

So firstly deal with other some of the other questionable economics in the system first then perhaps charge by total all up weight (I can safety say this being a rather petite woman !)

Nina van der Roos

On the one hand, I get the unfairness. On the other, due to the promotional value, the lost income can be justified on grounds of a deductible business expense, in which case we can't be sure how much of it is being subsidized by the passengers. Instead, it would be the taxpayers subsidizing some of it.

In the US, airlines have become adept in making sure their planes fly very full. I fly Southwest a lot and believe me, most of the time empty seats are scarce, except perhaps for the last flights of the day just before shutting the system down. What does this mean? It means that filling empty seats to raise profits isn't an option anymore. Hence, beyond raising ticket prices, we have the blizzard of nitpicky fees and the charging for services that used to be free.

I don't really care about the first scenario. If you pack your things according to the rules (even if you think the rules are stupid) then you won't get a charge for baggage being overweight. I think it's most fair to pay for the space that you occupy. In scenario 2 the 110lb person fits into one seat so they should only have to pay for one seat. If you are 300lbs and so large that you cannot fit in an airplane seat without spilling into the seat next to you then you should have to pay for two seats because you take up more space and you should not be encroaching on the space other people paid for.

It's not really fair, as some people have thyroid problems that prevent them from losing weight among other conditions. If I'm fat because of a medical reason, I have to pay more? That would suck. The prices on baggage are ridiculous, but I'm pretty sure it does go by size, not weight. It really would be discrimination and that's not right. If we applied this principle we could charge tall people for taking up more room vertically.

What is fair is what this entire topic is about.

I fly Southwest 95% of the time and baggage restrictions for checked items tend to be about weight more than size (within reason, of course). A suitcase or other checked item is free up to 50 lb; after that extra charges apply. Size is more of a consideration for carry-ons for obvious reasons. It's probably much the same for most airlines.

What fairness is and how to achieve it has been a philosophical problem for the ages, and it's still a controversial topic. For example, imagine a race. Is fairness exemplified in terms of a handicapped starting position, giving people with disabilities a finely calculated head start, ideally resulting in everyone crossing the finish line at the same time, or is it more fair to have everyone start running from the same starting line, the result reflecting their relative speed and the race going to the swiftest?

Don't buy that, a Thyroid condition makes maintaining weight more difficult not impossible.  I've been seriously disabled for 8 years and maintain my weight.  I went from 5-6,000 calories a day to 1,500-2,000.  350lbs weighs as much as two normal passengers, they take up the room of two normal passengers...they pay 2x the fare.

Weight is critical to both balancing a plane, and the way it performs....granted a 747 is much less sensitive to a few overweight people, throw in a 20 passenger connection flight and it is a much greater factor.

Whatever weight a person is at, simply living burns calories, and so there is some caloric intake level that will reduce weight.


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