Wednesday 16 November 2011

What If Wednesday

What if airlines charged passengers by their weight?

This horrible idea* was first suggested by my Latin teacher at school. She was four feet ten in shoes and I'm sure had to have her clothes specially made, since size 6 didn't really exist when I was at school. I could completely understand it from her point of view: she'd do better out of it.

So might the airlines. Lighter passengers require less fuel to transport, presumably. In those enormous A303s that carry nearly 1000 people, those few extra kilos a percentage of them are carrying are really going to make a difference. More cargo could be carried if the airline was clear on the weight of the passengers ahead of time, possibly leading to less flights and therefore a reduction in emissions.

How would it work, though? Would you be weighed when you booked your flight and have to pay extra then? Or would they charge everyone the same and then weigh you at check in and add a surcharge at that point? Since generally people try to lose weight for their holidays I think the second way would be fairer, though perhaps less useful if you want to know total passenger weight in time to add extra cargo.

How would it affect travel patterns? Fatter people would have to diet hard, save for longer or make do with staycations and cruises. Perhaps multinational countries would promote lighter people to positions that involve travel, whilst simultaneously looking at videoconferencing for their portlier employees.

I can see that weighing people and charging for extra pounds would cause enormous outcry. It's quite negative. The best way to introduce a new idea is to turn it on its head and look at the positive side: more incentive for people to lose weight. So perhaps lighter people could be allowed more baggage. Perhaps if you are a light couple, one of you gets to travel free (as long as you share your meal) since then that seat won't be taken up by a fatty who's weighing the plane down.

You know, I feel like I'm doing Stelios's job for him. How long before the bucket airlines adopt my policy? I want free flights for life, you know. And I won't be disclosing my weight, either.

* As an overweight lover of travel with family on three continents, I find it horrible.

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