A really common response to my piece yesterday about flying fat people is to suggest that, as one person put it, “the only fair thing is for airlines and trains etc. to charge people by weight – just weigh the person and their luggage and charge by the pound.”
I think that when you really look into it, charging people by weight isn’t fair, and doesn’t make sense at all. Let’s move right past the highly questionable notion that people are self-loading freight and look into the reasons why this is a truly terrible idea:
First are the potential issues of discrimination based on size, gender, ethnicity, and ability/health (are we weighing mobility devices, casts, service animals, medical devices and medications that people have to travel with?) Then there are parents who have to pay for the weight of every diaper and baby wipe they need, not to mention juice, milk, snacks, toys, and whatever else they need to keep their kid as happy as possible in the air.
There’s also the issue of how it would work practically – would you enter your weight when you buy a ticket (and have to know the weight of your luggage weeks or even months in advance of your trip?) and then be weighed and have to pay more or get a partial refund if your weight had changed in the meantime (can you imagine the lines – the people who couldn’t afford the extra etc?) Also, what if your weight changes between the departing and returning trip? (If you believe all of the freaking out about holiday weight gain, the airlines should make a killing on people coming home after holiday travel.)
Women who bloat during their menstrual cycle would have to pay more to take the same trip during different days of the month. People on medications that cause water retention would have to pay more to fly than those who aren’t on that kind of medication. Body builders would pay more or less for the same trip depending on if they were on the bulking or cutting phase of their training etc. People who are coming from or going to cold climates (or who are too cold based on the temperature of the airport and plane which they can’t control) would have to pay more to wear appropriate clothing/coats/boots etc.
Not to mention that if the problem we’re trying to solve is everyone having enough space on the flight then this doesn’t help at all since body weight does not indicate space need – some 300 pound people can fit in current airline seats, some 200 pound people cannot. The only thing that this does is charge some people more for the exact same service.
The airline should charge a single price for one person to travel from one destination to another in a seat that accommodates them, I think that’s the only fair thing.
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