Poll: Airlines should charge obese passengers more
A change in Air France's policy reignites the debate.
About 76% of respondents to a poll by a travel Web site said airlines should charge obese people a “fat tax” when they fly.
“Only 22% of the 550 people questioned disapproved of introducing extra payments for overweight passengers,” Reuters reported about the Skyscanner survey.
Thus this can of worms gets opened again, and this time the debate has gone global.
- Bing: Fattest countries
The debate reignited when it was incorrectly reported that Air France planned to require obese passengers to buy a second seat. In reality, Air France since 2005 has allowed passengers to buy a second seat at a 25% discount if they can’t fit comfortably into one. The real news is that Air France has decided to grant a refund for that second seat if the plane is not full.
Media reports around the world also observed that European discount airline Ryanair announced last year it’s coming up with a plan to charge fat passengers for excess weight -- after 30,000 people voiced support in an online poll.
In Canada, Reuters said, the Supreme Court ruled that the airlines cannot compel obese people to buy a second seat.
Here in the U.S., Southwest Airlines (known for no baggage fees) and United Airlines require wide-bodied passengers to buy an extra seat if one won't do, but give a refund if all seats aren't sold. Other airlines handle individual situations as they come up.
The issue is a reccurring sore spot among airline passengers, both the slender ones and their plus-sized seatmates. Last month a Flightglobal blog published a photo of a very large man taking up an aisle seat and half the aisle on an American Airlines flight. An airline spokesman said the authenticity of the photo could not be verified and pointed out that the plane was still on the ground. Look closely and you can still see passengers boarding. No one knows how he was eventually accommodated.
ABC News reported: “If the flight is not full, American tries to seat the passenger in two adjacent seats. Otherwise, the airline tries to book the person on another flight. If there is no other available flight or the passenger needs to be on that flight for scheduling reasons, the airline will sometimes book and charge the person for two seats.”
What’s the right thing to do? Should the airlines charge obese passengers for an extra seat if they don’t fit into one? Should all passengers and their baggage be charged according to total weight? Should those tiny airlines seats be bigger?
“Should this debate even be allowed to take place?” wrote ICM blogger Nicki Pickford, who had to give up a preselected window seat to make room for an overweight seatmate. “Are we not being prejudiced towards people just because of their weight? After all, some people have medical problems which mean they are unable to lose weight.”
Skyscanner co-founder Barry Smith conceded it’s a touchy subject.
“On one hand, it’s not unreasonable for airlines to charge extra if they occupy more than one seat. On the other, many would argue it should be the responsibility of airlines to adjust their standard seat size, enabling them to comfortably accommodate all passengers,” he said in a statement.
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Thomson Reuters (click for restrictions). Real-time quotes provided by BATS Exchange. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Interactive Data Real-Time Services. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by SIX Financial Information.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Children from lower income families are at greater risk of suffering accidental injuries and being sickened by food, according to a Consumer Federation of America study.