A majority of people would like airlines to begin weighing passengers before assigning them seats on a plane, and charging obese passengers more, according to a new poll in the UK. The poll comes just a month after Uzbekistan Airways introduced “preflight weighing”, and it hints at a future in which the price of a ticket may be tied to the amount of space you take up.
While Uzbekistan Airways calls weighing passengers a safety procedure, the airline did admit that obese passengers may be prevented from boarding smaller, crowded flights. Samoa Air likewise expanded its own controversial weighing system in 2013, charging passengers by their weight, including luggage.
The British poll, conducted by Holiday Extras, revealed that 58% of people approve of weighing in at the airport. A further 45% believed that paying based on weight would not affect them personally at all, and 6% of respondents believed that a switch to weight-based fares would actually encourage them to fly more often.
“There’s currently no initiative to weigh customers at check-in the UK. Even so, the idea has sparked some lively debate with holiday travelers. Changes in airline procedures often do receive an adverse reaction initially, so it’s pretty surprising to see that many holidaymakers appear to be tolerant to the idea of weighing passengers at check-in.
Personal space is a certainly a very sensitive issue so it will be interesting to see how views about this topic evolve.”
The social stigma of being publicly weighed aside, weight-based fares do make sense, according to Bob Atkinson, travel expert at TravelSupermarket:
“To get a plane into the air, airlines need fuel. The heavier the aircraft, the more fuel and therefore the higher the cost – and fuel is cited as the largest cost an airline incurs.”
While no U.S. carriers have publicly revealed plans to adopt a weight-based pricing system, it is difficult to imagine our fee-crazy travel industry not at least entertaining the idea. It may only be a matter of time before the scales tip in this direction.