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Charging Passengers Per Weight Is a Success, Airline Says of Controversial Policy

Update Date: Apr 02, 2013 02:27 PM EDT
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An airline in the Pacific Islands is making headlines because of its new policy: pay as you weigh. But will it expand to become a trend that other airlines adopt?

According to the Australia Network News, Samoa Air started flying within the island country in 2012 and has since grown to connect different nations in the Pacific Islands.

In January, the airline introduced a new policy. Each person would need to pay for as many kilograms as they weighed, in addition to their suitcases. Passengers can provide a guess of their weight online, in addition to that of their bags. Then, in the airport, the passengers are weighed again in order to make sure that no passengers shaved off any weight.

The rates range from $1 a kilogram for the shortest route, and $4.16 for the route from Samoa to American Samoa.

Since the institution of the policy, the airline says that the new price scheme has been successful. Families, in particular, have liked the new price mechanisms. For two adults and small children, the price plan can often make travel cheaper than paying for each seat.

"People have always travelled on the basis of their seat," Chief Executive Chris Langton said to the Australia Network News. "Aeroplanes don't run on seats, they run on weight. The smaller the aircraft you're in, the less variance you can accept in terms of the differences in weights between passengers."

Samoa Air operates two types of aircrafts: the BN2A Islander and the Cessna 172, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The scheme also serves as a reminder for the obesity epidemic. Like many Pacific Island countries, Samoa has an obesity problem.

Samoa Air is hardly the first airline to institute a drastic solution for that problem. In the United States, many airlines require obese passengers to book two seats.

A Norwegian economist also suggested a policy similar to that of Samoa Air, in order for airlines to recoup the extra fuel needed to make the flight with heavyset passengers.

However, not everyone has been enthused by the policy. "What? I have to give up my body building career so I can get a cheaper fare? Fat chance," Gus Crichton wrote on the company's Facebook page after the announcement, according to the Toronto Star.

It is also unlikely that such a rule would be implemented in other countries, like Canada. A Canadian court case recently set a precedent in the country of "one person, one fare".

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