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Innovation of the Day: Pay as You Weigh

Katrine Dermody
Wednesday, 3 Apr 2013 | 2:43 AM ET
Malte Mueller | Getty Images

Like many Pacific island nations, Samoa has a serious obesity problem and is often included in the top 10 fattest countries.

And while we respect the Samoans' prerogative to live large, Samoa Air, is penalizing those with extra pounds.

Touted as the fairest way to fly, Samoa Air has instituted a new policy whereby passengers are required to pay a fixed price per kilogram that they weigh, rather than paying a fixed price per seat.

(Read More: Has the 'War on Obesity' Gone Too Far?)

"This is the fairest way of travelling," chief executive of Samoa Air, Chris Langton, told ABC Radio. "There are no extra fees in terms of excess baggage or anything – it is just a kilo is a kilo is a kilo."

And while some airlines in the United States already force obese passengers who cannot fit in a single seat to pay for two seats — remember the Kevin Smith debacle of 2010? — this is the first time a per-kilo rate has been used by an airline.

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According to The Syndey Morning Herald, under the new system, Samoa Air passengers must type in their weight as well as the weight of their baggage into the online booking section of the airline's website.

The rates vary depending on the distance flown: from $1 per kilogram on the airline's shortest domestic route to about $4.16 per kilogram for travel between Samoa and American Samoa. Passengers are then weighed again on scales at the airport, to check that they weren't fibbing online.

Being publically weighed on airport scales? Talk about travel stress!

Mr. Langton, however, continues to emphasize that the new policy is rooted in practicality and safety concerns and that it should not be considered a cruel punishment for our heftier Samoan counterparts.

(Read More: Five Trends to Look for in Travel This Year)

"When you're only fitting eight to 12 people in these aircrafts and you've got some bigger Samoans getting on, you do need to weigh them and distribute that weight evenly throughout the aircraft, to make sure everyone's safe," he said. "At the end of the day, I don't care who they're weighing or how they're weighing them as long as it's safe."

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