Former Qantas Exec Presses for Passenger 'Fat Tax'

Published by Anne McDermott on January 11, 2012

The one-time chief economist for Australia's Qantas Airways says the time to weigh passengers – and force fat ones to pay more than skinny ones – has come.

Overweight Passengers and Airline Fuel Costs

According to Melbourne's Herald Sun, Tony Webber claims airlines are paying hundreds of dollars more per-planeload these days in fuel costs due to passengers' expanding waist lines.

Obese Passenger 'Spillover' Forces Seatmate to Stand

People are getting bigger. According to statistics from the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average weight of an adult American male increased from 1960 to 2002 by nearly 28 pounds (though he also gained an inch-and-a-half in height).

Hear Rick Seaney and Anne McDermott talk about the "Fat Tax."

Will Passengers Pay by the Pound?

As Webber sees it, when weight starts eating into airline profits, drastic measures must be considered and that he forsees a time when passengers pay a fee-per-pound above a certain weight limit. Webber, who now runs a consulting firm, added, "I think it's discriminatory that people who watch their weight actually have to pay a higher airfare because of people who are overweight."

Another U.S. Airline Adopts Strict 'Too Fat to Fly' Rules

Slender Passengers May Get Bonus

Although no airline is publicly known to be contemplating any sort of passenger-by-the-pound penalty, Webber is certain it is at least being considered and he believes at some point airlines will ask customers to get on the scales alongside their baggage.

He also says passengers who weigh below the as yet mythical ideal weight would get some sort of rebate from the airline [Editor's note: I doubt it.]

Airport Physical?

FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney said, "Let's see, you have shoes off, body scan, enhanced pat-down, the weigh-in at the gate – you're just a blood pressure cuff away from a full physical."

By the way, the article makes no mention of former airline exec Webber's own physique or poundage.

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