Image Courtesy of Bradley Gordon
Not long ago I shared a post on how to avoid airline baggage fees, and made a tongue-and-cheek comment on how it’s only a matter of time until airlines begin pricing airfare based on weight.
Well, fast-forward into the not to distant future, and pay as you weigh airfare apparently has arrived.
In a recent article on CNN it was stated that Uzbekistan Airways would begin weighing passengers along with their baggage prior to boarding.
I almost choked on my coffee.
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To be fair, Uzbekistan Airways hasn’t actually begun a pay as you weigh airfare ticket pricing (That distinction actually belongs to Samoa Air, who has been enforcing a pay as you weigh airfare structure since 2012), and have only enacted the policy for the purpose of flight safety. .
However, I see this as a sea-change to further unpopular airline practices; it’s a gradual inoculation. Remember free baggage? I don’t blame you if you don’t. But there once was a time we considered baggage fees as being outrageous. Now? Just the cost of flying.
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Here are my reasons why a pay as you weigh airfare pricing structure won’t, can’t, and should not be enforced:
- Discrimination – There has always been discrimination, and chances are we will always be dealing with it in one form or another. But where it once was practiced duplicitously, “airfare by the pound” would effectively grant airlines a license to promote further price discrimination – legally!
- Pregnancy and Disorder Insensitivity – how would they charge an expecting mother, or someone with a medical disorder like hypothyroidism? Interesting…
- Ongoing Shaming – As though shaming isn’t already pervasive, having to pay more because you weigh more is just insensitive. A pay as you weigh airfare policy would throw all our progress as society a thousand steps back. TSA agents already make fun of our X-rays, now imagine our self-esteem as we watch them trying to stifle a giggle as we’re forced to step on the scale.
- Increased Airfare Cost – Airlines will inevitable have a minimum cost and I wouldn’t count on them lowering current pricing standards. Which means, even if you happen to be wafer thin, your cost certainly will not be. They’ll just tack on a “surcharge” for each extra pound. Heavier passengers will invariably have to pay an increased rate for airfare. Good news is, figuring out how to stuff your carryon will now be the least of your concerns.
- Fee Creep – Under the current airline oligopoly, we’re forced to eventually get use to unpopular policies and fee changes. A pay as you weigh policy would ultimately open the floodgates to more draconian treatment. By giving them an inch they will definitely, and flagrantly, take a mile. Case in point: baggage fees.
- Assigned Seating by Weight- Airlines already have an existing policy on how weight is to be distributed on a flight. Makes perfect sense. But I can certainly see a dystopian future where you’re asked to enter your weight, and if you happen to exceed a certain weight category, you’ll be relegated to the “fat” sections for balancing. Better get comfortable with the seat by the Lavatory.
- Unfair Luggage Weight Allocation- If a pay as you weigh airfare price is determined by total weight of both passenger and luggage, lighter passengers would be able to bring more luggage while heavier passengers will have restrictions. For some reason, this just doesn’t sound very equitable.
Yesterday it was Samoa Air, today it’s Uzbekistan Airways, tomorrow: everyone else. As more companies adopt a pay as you weigh airfare structure, we will inevitably be forced to accept a new state of normalcy. Baggage fees are one thing, but when it comes to a pre-board weigh in, we need to draw the line.
If it’s sincerely about maintaining flight safety, I can get on board for that. But if it’s not, we better rethink that extra helping of mash over the holidays.
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