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Brits Give Thumbs Up to Weight-Based Airfares

Brits Give Thumbs Up to Weight-Based Airfares

Just when you thought you’d seen the last snarky blog post on charging airline passengers according to their weight, there’s new evidence that the idea has legs. And no, it’s not because a second tiny airline has joined Samoa Air in actually implementing the policy.

A new poll by a British travel agency, reported in the Daily Telegraph, found that 63 percent of nearly 2,500 Britons surveyed supported such weight-based pricing, with 29 percent opposing and 8 percent not sure.

To most of the Americans I’ve spoken to, the idea has a vaguely nasty, discriminatory tinge to it. It just won’t fly. And I’d assumed that we weren’t alone in those feelings.

If I had to guess, I’d say that the percentage of Brits who embraced the policy roughly mirrored the percentage of Americans who expressed their opposition to it.

So much for one people separated by a common language!

In the end, the operational hurdles to by-the-pound airfares would probably doom any effort by a U.S. airline to price by weight, even if there were strong public support for the notion. But the attitude gap remains a puzzler.

Of course my informal poll has none of the hallmarks of a scientific study. It’s likely, for instance, that the results suffer from selection bias as I certainly made no effort to gather responses from outside my own cohort.

So, in the interest of determining whether there is really such a gaping disparity between Yanks and Brits on this issue, I put the question to our readers, who are overwhelmingly Americans.

Reader Reality Check

Are you in favor of airlines charging passengers according to their weight?

Does it surprise you that the British favor weight-based airfares?

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  • Eric

    This is ironic since the UK’s obesity rate is increasing.

  • Fred Davis

    In America we walk like a DUCK, but true it make the rest of the world look slimmer..

  • BobChi

    I’m not sure how that works on an important carrier (no offense to Samoa Air) . I’m assuming the idea is that you identify your weight in a certain range at booking and pay a surcharge if it’s too high? But the logistics of checking that at the airport, weighing people, adjusting fares, collecting or returning money, dealing with passengers who normally bypass the ticket counter altogether with a pre-printed boarding pass, all seem like something that would incur quite a bit of expense and lost time in its own right, not to mention the impact on customer relations.

  • Amber Faith Miller Bullington

    I’m not in favor of airlines charging per the pound. How in the world are they going to enforce such a thing? Have each passenger step on a scale as they prepare to board the plane? I can’t even imagine …

  • BillV

    There is no way this could work out well. It would create further discrimination against heavy people, especially when it comes to business travel. This would encourage companies to hire lightweight people over heavy people as it would help them save signifigant cost on airfare.


    As a Brit myself,i am in total favor of this.What a great insentive to loose that extra weight your carrying,save money on your airfares,and be much healthier in the long run…Seams like a no brainer to me.

  • mmathers

    Companies already have an incentive to hire lightweight people over heavy folks because of the healthcare insurance implications. The travel budget of most companies is fairly small compared to their employee healthcare costs so paying a few extra $$ for an obese person to fly under this proposed system won’t affect them nearly as much as the cost to insure them.

    Heavy folks are still on the employee rolls of almost every company in the US despite their increased costs to insure (just like women). I’m totally in favor of charging fliers by the pound.

  • mmathers

    Yes. Weigh em just like they do bags. The base ticket has an allowance and if you are over this limit, make them swipe a card. This may also help monetize ppl who bring a ton of carryon bags all strapped together and then proceed to hog all the overhead compartment space.

  • Sally Rosoff

    I don’t understand how charging people by weight constitutes discrimination against people who are overweight. The airlines already charge by weight when it comes to baggage. I have no problem with large people except when they wind up sitting on top of me because they don’t fit in their own seats and lop over into mine. I feel that if I pay for a seat on a plane I’m entitled to its use. It discriminates against my right to have full use of my seat if I’m forced to share it with someone else.

  • Susan D. Johnson

    Has anyone discussed ticket pricing based on total passenger + bag weight? Right now, a 100-lb passenger with a 30-lb checked bag pays more than a 400-lb passenger with only carry-on luggage.