Airline charging passengers by their weight

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(CNN) – The price of an airline ticket varies depending on how far in advance you buy your ticket, the time of day you want to fly and the day itself.

But what if airlines also factored in something else, how much you weigh?

An airline is already doing this.

Samoa Air, which operates out of the Pacific, charges passengers by the pound.

Their website states:

“We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair, by charging our passengers only for what they weigh. You are the master of your Air’fair’, you decide how much (or little) your ticket will cost. No more exorbitant excess baggage fees, or being charged for baggage you may not carry. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple.”

A study by a Norwegian professor suggests other airlines should do the same.

“Some would think that this is discriminatory but because I am straight-up economics, for me, it’s not discriminatory at all,” economist and professor, Bharat Bhatta said.

Bhatta argues, in a paper in the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, reducing the weight on a plane by a little more than two pounds will result in fuel savings of $3,000 a year.

He proposes passengers self-declare their weight when they book a ticket.

On a flight between Washington D.C. and Chicago, at dollars per pound, Sally weighs 120 pounds so her ticket would be $240.

Paul, on the same flight, weighs 180 pounds; his ticket price is $360.

Steve who weighs 270 pounds would pay $540.

Southwest Airlines requires over-sized passengers to book two seats.

When commercial air travel first began, that’s the way it was done.

One group is calling the idea ridiculous.

“Treating people like freight is not a good alternative,” Peggy Howell said, with the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

It’s a public relations nightmare for the airlines to even consider such a thing.

At the airport, parents thought it was a good idea to charge by the pound because parents would not have to pay a full fare for children.

However, many still do not like the idea.

“Men are larger than women so are they going to have to pay more to fly,” one traveler said. “That part doesn’t quite make sense to me.”

Another traveler said they thought the practice would be discriminatory.

Copyright 2013, Boeing, Getty, via CNN. All rights reserved.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.