Airlines may be attached to the idea because of the additional revenue, but it will add confusion to the buying process as well as provide logistical hurdles at check-in and demands for better cabin configurations by flyers who pay more.
Nearly two-thirds of Britons would support the introduction of “pay as you weigh” air fares, new research has shown.
Last week Samoa Air became the first airline to charge passengers according to their size. Passengers flying on the South Pacific carrier, which largely operates domestic routes, must now pay one Samoan tālā (around 29p) for each kilo that they, combined with their luggage, weigh.
Now a poll of nearly 2,500 Britons, by the online travel agent Sunshine.co.uk, has suggested that 63 per cent of people are in favour of the policy, with just 29 per cent opposing it, and eight per cent remaining unsure.
Unsurprisingly, it was those travellers likely to benefit from “pay as you weigh” air fares that supported the scheme. Of those who backed it, just one in five said they consider themselves overweight. Nearly three-quarters of those who opposed it classed themselves as such.
Sunshine.co.uk’s findings were supported by a poll of more than 2,000 readers, carried out last week by Telegraph Travel, which found that nearly 80 per cent of people would like to see heavier passengers pay more.
The evident support for Samoa Air’s move could encourage other carriers to follow suit. The biggest single cost for all major airlines is jet fuel, the price of which has risen sharply in recent years.
Carriers have responded by devising ever more imaginative ways of cutting the weight of their aircraft. Ryanair has previously mooted the introduction of a “fat tax” on overweight fliers, and last year reduced the size of its in-flight magazine from A4 to A5, which it claimed would save £400,000 a year. A spokesman for British Airways, however, said it “would never consider such a policy”.
Should a major airline adopt a similar pricing structure, a 15-stone traveller could expect to pay £6 more than an average 13-stone man, and £12 more than an average 11-stone woman, for a return flight from London to Edinburgh, according to Telegraph Travel’s calculations .
Slim fliers could expect to find even greater savings on long-haul flights, with a 15-stone travellers paying £50 more than an average man for a return flight from London to Cape Town, and £100 more than an average woman.
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