Should obese people pay more when they fly because they burn more fuel?

Should obese people pay more when they fly because they burn more fuel?

fat-guy-on-a-planeThe argument that rotund people should be forced to buy two adjacent seats on an airplane is an old one. But now a university professor writing in a trade journal has proposed a whole new way to punish airborne fatties.

The MailOnline cites an article in this month’s Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management that recommends a pay-what-you-weigh airline pricing scheme.

The article’s author is Bharat P. Bhatta, of the Sogn og Fjordane University College in Norway, who writes:

Charging according to weight and space is a universally accepted principle, not only in transportation, but also in other services.

As weight and space are far more important in aviation than other modes of transport, airlines should take this into account when pricing their tickets.

Bhatta says the fare could be generated with a fixed rate for kilograms per passenger so that a person weighing 60kg pays half the airfare of a 120kg person. (In case you’re wondering, those weights in pounds are 132 and 264 repsectively.)

The journal’s editor, Ian Yeoman, agrees with Bhatta’s position:

For airlines, every extra kilogram means more expensive jet fuel must be burned, which leads to CO2 emissions and financial cost.

As the airline industry is fraught with financial difficulties, marginally profitable and has seen exponential growth in the last decade, maybe they should be looking to introduce scales at the check-in.

The proposals are not without their detractors. Take, for example, Bob Atkinson of, who asks whether passengers would be entitled to a discount if they lose weight between when they booked their tickets and when they arrive at the airport.

George Hobica, founder of, writes that airlines have begun dealing with the problem of passenger comfort on a case-by-case basis. He, too, feels it may be unfair to punish passengers on the basis of bulk, noting that “Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his heyday, probably didn’t fit in a standard 17-inch coach seat” either.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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