Could Large and Tall Flyers Pay More for Airfare?

Some of you may have seen this on the FareCompare News Blog: a former Qantas executive is quite seriously floating the idea of pay-by-the-pound airfare. In other words, if you weigh above a certain limit, the price of your airfare goes up and depending on your girth, could rise significantly.

Airfare-by-the-Pound: Will it Fly?

Is paying by pound a serious proposal serious?

The man behind the idea, Dr. Tony Webber, one-time chief economist with Qantas, seems deadly serious. However, I was just joking when I put forth the same idea as a “fee of the future” – four years ago!

Fat Fee: Charging passengers by the pound. Gate agents would have scales near the boarding area, and to be really fair about this, they would assess fees on everyone who weighs more than 100 pounds (we could call this fee the Super-Model-Exempt Surcharge).” Rick Seaney, June 4, 2008

Could this happen? It’s a long shot, but not unthinkable, particular if the price of oil goes out of control. And remember that just a few years ago, the concept of paying a fee for checking a bag was unthinkable.

Watch Rick Seaney Talk to KDFW About Weight-Based Airfare

What about tall flyers – could they ever pay a special fee-to-fly?

In some ways, they already do – since many airlines charge for their best seats – the ones with the most legroom. You know this as preferred seating or however an airline markets it.

One Canadian flyer is on a crusade against Air Canada to drop those bigger seat fees, so far without success. Makes you pity those poor NBA players that have to fly commercial.

Southwest Shrinks Seat Space

Should presidential candidates address airline fares and fees?

I suspect they have bigger fish to fry – but on the other hand, why not? After all, the government has tackled airfare transparency regulations rather successfully.

By order of the Department of Transporation, any published or advertised airfare must now include all mandatory taxes and fees, so shoppers know the final cost of their ticket before they get to the end of the checkout line. And, at least one U.S. senator is pushing legislation to drop checked-bag fees (not that I think that’ll go anywhere). Again, it’s a long shot.

That said, this might be something the candidates can relate to. Our president and the men who are trying to take his place are all pretty tall, and at least one candidate has said, “I need to lose weight” (Newt, we’ve all been there).

But maybe these folks are only thinking about Air Force One – which has plenty of room for all shapes and sizes.

More from Rick Seaney:

Should Presidential Candidates Care About Airline Fees?


Published: January 27, 2012