Friday, June 13, 2008

Fly By The Pound

The airline industry is not doing so well lately; even with the multi-billion dollar tax-payer funded government bailout after the events of 9/11, practically every airline company seems incapable of even turning a profit. And one of the main reasons for this is the incredibly high cost of jet fuel right now. So naturally, one of the ideas being bandied around the blogosphere at the moment is whether the airlines should start charging passengers by their respective weights.

Perhaps this isn't such a radical idea. Many airline companies are already charging extra for checked baggage and if you want to ship a package of any considerable weight it costs you more per pound; it's simple economics: weight vs. fuel costs. In addition to charging extra for baggage of a higher weight, passengers who are already too large to fit within a single seat are forced to pay for an additional space to contain their considerable girth.

Now I have several friends who are larger than average individuals who will undoubtably argue that this is discrimination based upon body size but I have to disagree with that assertion. When you frequent a local bar or restaurant, everyone is charged the same amount of money for the same amount of alcohol or food, regardless of their size. If you are 6'4" and weigh 280 pounds, a single hamburger probably isn't going to satiate you; by the same token, you probably won't get the same buzz from a vodka martini as a person weighing 100 pounds, yet we don't dispute these basic facts of physiology.

Why should the airline industry have to operate by different standards? If it costs more to haul your big ass across the country at 10,000 feet than everyone else, why shouldn't you be paying more for the service? Now of course, I'm not suggesting that a 200 pound person should pay twice as much to fly as someone weighing 100 pounds; there should be a baseline price for flying agreed upon using statistics such as fuel prices, operating costs and industry norms. I'm just suggesting that those individuals who exceed an agreed upon threshold of weight should have to pay a bit extra per pound (on a graduated scale, of course) to fly for any particular distance.

Is this obviously brilliant idea going to catch on nation-, and perhaps world-, wide? Most likely not; the legions of politically correct citizens out there who are already crusading against the litany of fat jokes running rampant within our national culture will undoubtably oppose it on some ideological and quasi-legal grounds. And perhaps they're right; maybe it is inherently wrong to discriminate against a subset of people based solely on their weight. But on the outside chance that this idea seems to make good sense financially, just make sure that I get the credit when we finally institutionalize it across the industry.


Intrepid Californio said...

So will Orbits and the others of the sort incorporate scales with usb capability so they can get you the best rate and your weight? And a retina scan to verify that is indeed your fat ass tipping the scales. Just think. The TSA could start taking DNA samples and sell them to the the airlines In turn the airlines could check to see if you have a genetic propensity for gaining weight at a certain age.
"Mr. Smith we note you are now 65 years of age. According to your file, you most likely weigh ten more pounds than you did on your 55th birthday. That's going to cost you"

"But I am a senior citizen"!

"Yeah you are a fat senior citizen. Belly up!"

Anonymous said...

I hadn't considered the online ticket purchasing quandary. Interesting. The first thing that came to my mind was how much more money the airlines would make in Texas than in New York.