Joined: 05 January 2013
Airline defends 'pay what you weigh' ticket policy, saying families have been particularly pleased by cheaper child tickets
A Samoan airline that has become the world's first carrier to charge passengers according to their weight has defended its policy. People wishing to travel withSamoa Air have to submit their weight, including their luggage, when booking to calculate their fare.
Proclaiming the "pay only for what you weigh" scheme, the company's website says: "Booking a flight with us is as easy as inputting your approximate weight into our online booking engine (don't worry, we will weigh you again at the airport) – you then can prepay your 'guesstimate', guaranteeing you that much weight is allocated to you for that flight … with Samoa Air, you are the master of how much (or little!) your air ticket will cost."
Samoa Air, which was launched last year, serves domestic routes as well as other Pacific islands. The statistics on obesity in the region suggest that many passengers could be forking out for a lot of kilos: Samoa appears regularly in lists of the top 10 fattest countries with more than 80% of the population aged 15 and over overweight.
Among the airline's other destinations, American Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tonga and Niue also feature in lists of the top 10 countries by percentage of overweight people.
Samoa Air's chief executive, Chris Langton, said charging by weight was the fairest method. "People have always travelled on the basis of their seat but, as many airline operators know, airlines don't run on seats; they run on weight and particularly the smaller the aircraft you are in the less variance you can accept in terms of the difference in weight between passengers," he told ABC News.
"There is no doubt in my mind that this is the concept of the future because anybody who travels has travelled at times when they feel like they have been paying for half of the passenger next to them … People are generally a little bit bigger, wider and taller than they were 40-50 years ago."
He said families had been "pleasantly surprised" by the pricing policy, introduced in January, as they could end up paying less because children were also charged by weight and not on their seat requirement.
Other airlines have previously attracted controvers