Too Fat To Fly?


You think flying is bad? Imagine trying to make money at it. Fuel costs have doubled, people who book in advance are actually money losers for the airlines. These companies are doing everything they can to make planes more fuel efficient, including flying slower, washing dirt from engines to eliminate drag, removing seats, magazines, and phones to lighten the load. Some airlines even flush onboard toilets on the ground to "minimize takeoff weight."

The only thing left to trim is you.

Despite rumors that airlines will start weighing passengers like freight--and charging them accordingly--all the major carriers tell us it's not going to happen.


Smaller aircraft have done this for years for weight and balance issues, but not the major carriers. Airline consultant Bob Mann says they should. "If you look at the freight industry, for example," Mann says, "they sell by space and weight." He says the airlines are not charging for the product "the way the costs are incurred.".

Mann says the major carriers assume the average passenger plus bags weighs a total of 220 pounds. Seems a bit light to me. But putting people on a scale in front of other passengers raises privacy concerns--and let's not even get started on the discrimination lawsuits. Southwest and Alaska have long had policies requiring people who can't fit into one seat to buy two. They can make a safety claim there--if you can't sit down during takeoff it's not safe.

But being too fat to fly, or having to pay more just because you're a 6'4" guy, could mean trouble, says travel attorney Alexander Anolik. "They can't do deceptive pricing," Anolik says. "If I don't know what my ticket is when I book it, they can't do that. And that's a little hard. What am I gonna weigh...when I finally get there? What am I wearing?"

Still, he expects that if costs continue to stay high, the airlines will continue to nickel and dime as necessary to try to eke out a profit. No idea is off the table.

"My favorite (idea) is the pay toilets ," says Anolik. "I think this weight idea comes right before the pay toilets. Those are the two last."

For a good laugh, check out the new "airline": It's not real, but maybe it should be?

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