Pay by the pound: Should weight determine airfare price?

9:00 PM, Mar 27, 2013   |    comments
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(AP image)

(WZZM) -- Spring break means many families are flying to vacation destinations. A researcher is suggesting airlines should start basing passenger airfares based on the person's weight.

A Norwegian professor argues reducing the weight on a plane by a little more than two pounds would save $3,000 a year in fuel. Based on his proposal, adults would pay $2 per pound, so a 120 pound woman's ticket would be $240, a 180 pound man would pay $360, and a 270 pound may would owe $540 for the same flight.

"Some would think that this is discriminatory but because I am straight-up economics, for me it's not discriminatory at all," says economist Bharat Bhatta.

It's not a novel idea. Samoa Air already charges passengers by the pound, and when commercial air travel first began that's the way it was done.

West Michigan air travelers are weighing in on the weighty issue. WZZM 13 visited the Gerald R. Ford International Airport to see if travelers would support the airfare proposal.

"It is discriminatory however you look at it-- not everybody's thin, not everybody is within the insurance guidelines of weight, certainly. I don't think it's going to happen. Not in America," says Jacquelyn Deregnaucourt.

But fellow traveler Derek Suckling disagrees. "I don't really think it's discriminatory in the sense that if you're going on a roller coaster, you can only fit so much in one spot, you know? It's just kind of like the laws of physics in that sense I guess."

"If you're just asking about the basic concept, it seems fair, it seems reasonable. I'd also like to see them evaluate people on how much space they take up in the cabin," says Bruce Odom, a traveler from Traverse City.

But Pamela Cook disagrees with the proposal. "No you can't do that, you can't do that. We pay enough in baggage weight, I mean it's ridiculous."

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