Samoan airline says pay by weight plan "fairest" way to fly

Wednesday 03 April 2013 07.26
Samoa Air asks passengers to declare their personal weight during booking
Samoa Air asks passengers to declare their personal weight during booking

A Samoan airline that says it is the world's first carrier to charge passengers by their weight rather than per seat defends the plan as the fairest way to fly.

It says that in some cases, the fares actually ending up cheaper than conventional tickets.

Samoa Air, which opened in 2012, asks passengers to declare their personal weight during booking, which is then charged per kilogramme at a rate dependent on flight length.

The customers will also be weighed at the check-in counter.

"The industry has this concept that all people throughout the world are the same size," Samoa Air CEO Chris Langton said. "Aeroplanes always run on weight, irrespective of seats,'' he added.

"There is no doubt in my mind that this is the concept of the future. This is the fairest way of you travelling with your family, or yourself,'' he said.

Though the airline instituted the plan last November, it caught attention last week when the carrier began international flights to neighbouring American Samoa and coincided with the publication of a report by a Norwegian economist suggesting that airlines should charge obese passengers more.

The Pacific Islands contain some of the world's most prevalent countries for obesity, many ranking in the top 10, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Samoa is ranked number four, with 59.6% of the population considered obese, according to the most recent 2008 WHO report.

Children under 12 are charged 75% of the adult rate, with fares also based on weight. Any overweight baggage is calculated at the same rate as the passenger's personal weight.

The plan could actually prove cheaper in some cases, such as for families travelling with small children, and Langton said customer feedback has mainly been "amazingly positive".