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Weight-Based Airfare

Updated on September 4, 2014

Weight-based airfare is a concept that came to my attention a few months ago. One of the companies I work for on a freelance basis wanted me to write travel content based on current events, and weight-based airfare was one of the topics I chose to write on.

Weight-based airfare, also known as pay-as-you-weigh airfare, basically uses a passengers’ weight, usually including that of their luggage, to determine how much each passenger pays for a plane ticket. A 115 pound woman, for instance, would likely get a cheaper plane ticket than a 200 pound man. Children would also receive lower ticket prices with pay-as-you-weigh airfare systems. Weight-based airfare is already being used on a few airlines, including a small airline called Samoa Air, which is the airline that made pay-as-you-weigh airfare front-page news in the United States.

The concept behind weight-based airfare is to make things more equitable. How many of us have been on a flight and been pushed up against the edge of our seats because the person next to us took up extra room? While I’m not sure weight-based airfare would make people more comfortable on those kinds of flights, you would know that you’re paying less than the person next to you. And that makes sense, doesn’t it? You pay for the amount of room you take up.

There are also a lot of arguments against pay-as-you-weigh airfare systems, though. First, what if someone isn’t taking up extra room, but just happens to weight more because they’re taller than someone else? Is it really fair to make that person pay extra?

I honestly haven’t formed an opinion on weight-based airfare myself. It would be beneficial to me, personally, because I have always been and hopefully always will be a pretty small person. That means weight-based airfare would probably save me a fair amount of money if it were widely used, especially when it comes to international flights. At the same time, however, I have friends who take up the same relative amount of space but weigh a lot more than me. I’m not sure it’s fair to make them pay more.

If anyone has any thoughts on pay-as-you-weigh airfare, I’d be interested to hear them, especially if you’ve actually purchased plane tickets that are based on the system. With the movement toward acceptance of larger individuals, this is a touchy subject because weight-based airfares could be seen as discriminatory, but I’m still interested to know people’s opinions. Do you want this to take offer? Or would you rather everyone pay a flat rate for their tickets?


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    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 3 years ago from New Jersey

      It does seem kind of discriminatory. It's bad enough that some people try to bring huge amounts of "carry on" luggage on now that all of the bags checked cost money. There's no room to put anything because of the few who hog all the storage space. It may just make flying even more unpleasant because of attitudes.