Just days after we speculated about the possibility of airfares based on passengers’ weight as suggested by a Norwegian expert, Samoa Air has launched the world’s first international ‘Pay by weight’ fares.
Passengers of the airline have to enter estimated weight(s) of passengers and baggage at the time of booking. The fare is then calculated on the basis of total passenger and luggage weight according to a fixed rate (set according to the flight) per kilogram. The fixed rate ranges from 93 cents to $1.06 per kg.
Passengers with as much luggage as they want to take are weighed by the airline before boarding.
Samoa Air mostly operates small turboprop aircraft on inter-island flights in Samoa and began its weight-based fare structure in November on domestic flights.
In January, the US Department of Transportation approved the airline’s first international flights between Samoa and American Samoa. Incidentally, Samoa happens to have one of the world’s highest obesity rates (91%+).
The news has received extensive coverage in world media as well as on social media sites. A detailed report on CNN in April 2013 provides more information on Samoa Air’s decision to charge by weight – and a very lively discussion.
Although the quoted airline analyst, Vaughn Cordle, stated that for US-based airlines “…this is an issue they [the airlines] will not touch with a 10-foot pole..” we think this view is very short-sighted. Airlines are in business to make money and they will ultimately run out of options to increase their revenues through ancillary services such as luggage fees, in-flight WiFi and meals.
Once one airline establishes a weight-based fare option – perhaps even introducing the concept as an option to reduce fares for smaller, thinner passengers – and that airline tests the skies, others will follow.
After all, we may object to the constant barrage of additional fees for 3″ of additional space or a window seat – but when the only means to get from one destination to another is to fly, are there any viable options but to pay?