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Debate: Should overweight airplane passengers be charged more?

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Should fat air passengers be charged extra for their extra weight?

Background and context

Health experts are calling for a controversial passenger 'fat tax'. They say it would cover the cost of transporting their excess weight.

They also say the fee should be charged by the kilo, just like excess baggage fees work. It is interesting that they say this should be in place while obesity is a global epidemic and fuel prices are at a record high. 'The Biggest Loser' contestants (from a weight loss show) said that when they travelled, the seats were too small for them and the seat belts were too tight. Health experts are also calling for free seat-belt extensions, given out just like headphones, for everyone who pays the fat tax. That already happens in the US. They also say it may be an incentive for some frequent flyers to lose weight, during this obesity epidemic.

The controversy is raised because it is discriminating against overweight passengers. To be charged by the kilo is fairly embarrassing for someone 20kg over the limit. If someone was 20kg over and was a frequent flyer for work, they would really suffer, not just financially but emotionally. Having to pay an expensive 'fat tax' would be quite embarrassing.

Most obesity and health organisations are for the idea and say it is only fair because the airline would need to transport extra weight. Some airlines instead make people can't fit into one seat buy two seats, for double the cost of the flight.

Contents

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Is it necessary to charge fat passengers extra when flying?

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Yes

  • They charge a lot for excess baggage, there isn't a difference. Airline companies charge ridiculously large amounts for excess baggage weight. And fat people are usually more than just a few kilograms over the limit. They even charge for a bag just 1kg (2.2 pounds) overweight. If a person is so fat that the airline needs to pay more for fuel consumption, the airline can't afford to pay out of their own pocket. Fat people are usually more than just a few kgs overweight. If the airline can't afford bags and luggage that is too heavy, then really, they can't afford to pay for fat people either. A small fee for overweight passengers certainly would be sensible and okay.
  • Both give extra weight. Excess weight fees are based purely on weight, NOT on what is holding the weight. No matter what is holding the weight, it is still extra weight and needs to be paid for. Extra wieght still needs to be transported and therefore charging a fee is reasonable and legitimate. At the end of the day, both are excess weight and a fee is inevitable.
  • The cost doesn't just cover fuel. The 'fat tax' would cover a range of costs including fuel, seat belt extensions, larger seats and the hassle that is involved in fat people flying. It is a necessary measure and covers all the costs that fat people cause.


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No

  • That is discrimination. Fat people are just like any other people except are fat - but they are still people and it is discriminating against these people to charge extra for them to fly. That practise would be extremely rude and is discrimination, which is illegal. It is not fair to make overweight passengers pay extra because they are still people and still usually only take up one seat.
  • Most people weigh under the standard weight and their payment for a larger expected weight would cover the cost for overweight people. There is a standard weight airlines expect people to be, and that's what they base their prices on. Most of the time, people are under this weight and therefore pay extra for the more weight they could have had but don't. If most of the flight is under the standard weight, they would have paid a little bit too much. Instead of the airline making even more profit, the extra payment could be passed onto the fat passenger(s) and that would cover the cost. There is no need to make these people pay extra.
  • A fat passenger who flies regularly would really suffer. If this rule came into place, overweight frequent flyers would pay extra every single flight. The burden on these people would get too high and people would have to pay, and pay, then pay a bit more every time they flew, as an unfair consequence to their often hereditary problem.
  • There is no comparison between a person and a suitcase. People, whether overweight or not, are still people. You cannot compare a person with a suitcase. Suitcases don't live and breathe. This rule is the same with weight. Excess weight in a suitcase is not comparable with a fat person.
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Are excess weight fees in general too expensive?

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Yes

  • If you do the maths, some excess baggage fees cost more than the actual flight!

It is fair to charge a little bit for excess baggage, but how much is quite an issue. Some domestic flights can be only $150 -$200. Some airlines charge $20 per kg for excess baggage fees. After 7 or 8 kg of excess baggage fees, that can be up to the cost of the whole flight!

Now, if you do the maths, the flight cost pays for airport service, a meal, in-flight entertainment and 20kg of luggage. With excess baggage fees, for the same cost of the whole flight, you could be paying for just 8kg of excess baggage.

If you work it out that way, you would realise that excess baggage fees are far too expensive. A little bit of the money would go towards extra fuel, but most of the money is simply revenue and profit, and airline companies profit a lot out of those pesky "excess baggage" fees. I'd call them "excess profit" fees. The fees are a rip-off and are certainly not fair.

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No

  • Airlines spend a lot of money to run services. Airlines do spend a lot of money on running services. It is fair to charge a small fee if the airline needs to pay extra in fuel costs and service. A small fee does cover the cost of the extra weight and is vital to ensure airlines don't lose money. This is a legitimate cost and is not too expensive. It is ridiculous to say that airlines profit from excess baggage fees - they just ask for enough money to cover for the extra weight.
  • If customers choose to have too much luggage, that is the customer's fault. It is not the airline's fault if customers have too much weight in their luggage. Customers choose to do that and they have to pay as a consequence.
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Would it be offensive to fat people if they got charged extra?

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Yes

  • Of course it would be. There is no question about it - being told that you had to pay an extra $60 for being fat would be very offensive to the person. Much offense would be taken if someone was told they had to pay a ridiculous amount of money that they can't afford to pay, and just after paying thousands of dollars for the flight, and just because they're fat? That, is extremely rude and uncaring and should not be allowed.
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No

  • It is not the airline's fault that people are fat. The extra fees are necessary to cover extra costs. If people knew and agreed that if they were over a certain weight (say, 100kg for example) they would be expected to pay a small fee, then that is okay. If people can expect the fee and accept the fee, then offence would not be taken when this legitimate fee is requested.

See also

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