Fat Tax Discriminatory, or an Opportunity?

Fat Tax Discriminatory, or an Opportunity?

Vikki Hartt and Kelly Rickert, Opinion Co-Editors

Vikki Hartt

Opinion Co-Editor

Most people don’t think about the person sitting next to them on an airplane. Maybe they’re half your size, or double your size, yet all pay the same price for an airline ticket.

Thinking logically, people go to the post office and mail letters and packages based on their net weight, so doesn’t it seem “fit” that people should pay to fly on an airplane based on their weight? Well, this is exactly what Samoa Air was thinking on April 3 when they changed over to “weigh as you go” seating.

According to the airline’s new policy, each person will enter their weight when they go to purchase a ticket, then their weight will be calculated in kilograms to come up with a final airfare.

But, not so fast. I bet you’re thinking people can just lie about their weight, and say they’re the weight of a 10-year-old to get a cheaper flight. Wrong! While going through airport security, security will not only check passengers’ bags, but there will also be a scale to confirm the weight documented on the passengers’ air flight information.

It’s no question that this is controversial and what some might consider a discriminatory way of treating passengers, but when it comes down to the facts, it makes sense. Heavier people cost the air company more to fly than, say, a four-year-old.
Think of a 185 pound male vs. a 45 pound four-year-old: it doesn’t make sense for the significantly lighter four-year-old to pay the same as the 185 pound male.

Personally, I think this is a great idea and perhaps could even motivate passengers to be a little more conscious about their weight before they take their next trip. Although I don’t see major airlines like Delta or American Airlines switching over to this new “fat tax” anytime soon, I think it is something to think about for the future of the airplane industry.


Kelly Rickert

Opinion Co-Editor

On April 3, Samoa Air adopted a new policy. Ticket prices for airplane seats would now be based on the passengers’ weight. To call this discrimination is an understatement.

For a person who is overweight, this is humiliating and dehumanizing. Everyone on the plane is sitting in the same types of seats, so charging different prices for people of different weights is unfair and it is certainly a poor practice in customer service.

The discrimination against overweight people, especially in the U.S., is intense. According to a study in the Journal of Obesity, bias against the overweight in the U.S. has increased by 66 percent over the last 10 years, and according to researcher Rebecca M. Puhl, it is “comparable to rates of racial discrimination, especially among women.”

Weight discrimination affects people not only in how others view them, but also can affect their salaries and even their chances of employment. With all of this already going against them, do overweight people really need to be singled out when purchasing an airplane ticket? It is embarrassing and demeaning for them to be marginalized in such a way.

Along with being hurtful to people who are overweight, it is also a bad customer service practice for airlines that adopt these types of “weigh as you go” policies. If someone is forced to pay more at an airline because of their weight, their overall satisfaction with the company will surely decline. Those people will take their business elsewhere, hurting the ticket sales for those airlines.

This new policy from Samoa Air is discriminatory and a poor business practice. Any customers who are insulted or embarrassed by these policies will certainly take their business elsewhere, as will their friends and families. Ultimately, this will hurt business for the airlines that put weight-pricing ticket sales into place.