Why the airlines are squeezing passengers

It was April fools day this week and as usual the media was full of thinly veiled joke stories that were so absurd that they couldn’t conceivably be true.

The odd person is always taken in but for the most part people get the joke. One story that emerged that was assumed by almost everybody to be one of the aforementioned pranks claimed Samoa Air was to become the first airline to charge passengers by weight.

It’s true this idea is not new but it has usually been talked about at best hypothetically and more often than not in distinctly jocular fashion. Yes, it kind of makes sense it has to be said, but the practical considerations (not to mention the sheer absurdity of the idea) led most people to think it unlikely.

So, it was with great surprise that we learned that Samoa Air weren’t in fact joking. They intend to charge passengers one Samoan tala (around 30 pence) per kilo they carry between their own weight and that of their luggage. The Samoans are (and without wanting to be the subject of a defamatory law suit ourselves) renowned for having fairly sturdy frames (just look at their rugby team), so perhaps this represents a smart move.

Since fuel is the biggest cost for any airline, charging by weight could actually be a possibility. It’s rumoured that Ryanair saved around £400,000 a year simply by cutting the size of their in flight magazine from A4 to A5. And if any European carrier was going to start charging by weight, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Ryanair led the way.

Once one goes, will the others fall like dominoes? Could you really imagine climbing onto the scales at check in when catching a BA flight? Only time will tell. Perhaps it’s time put that trim for summer plan into action. Who knows how much you could save on future flights? Checking the scales before you fly could become as much a part of the holiday routine as organising travel insurance.

Date Created: 04 April 2013

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