Should Airlines Determine Ticket Prices by Passenger Weight?

Interesting article today from CNN, which is reporting that a Norwegian economics expert believes airlines should price their tickets according to passenger weight. 

Dr. Bharat P. Bhatta, associate professor of economics at Sogn og Fjordane University College, is proposing three models that he believes can save both money and fuel emissions. Bhatta's paper was published in the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management.

The three models are:

Total weight: A passenger’s luggage and body weight is calculated, with the fare comprising a per kilo cost. In this scenario a passenger weighing 100 kilos with 20 kilos of luggage (120 kilos total) would pay twice that of a passenger of 50 kilos with 10 kilos of luggage (60 kilos total).

Base fare +/- extra: A base fare is set, with a per-kilo discount applying for “underweight” passengers and a per-kilo surcharge applying to “overweight” passengers.

High/Average/Low: A base fare is set, with a predetermined discount applying for those below a certain weight threshold and a predetermined surcharge applying for those above a certain weight threshold.

Bhatta prefers the third of these options. He goes on to say that weight could be ascertained through passenger self-declaration, with one in five passengers randomly selected and weighed to dissuade cheats (with penalties for cheaters) or by weighing all passengers at check in.

He cited a move by Air Canada, which removed life vests from its planes to make each flight 25 kilos lighter, and other initiatives by low-cost carriers such as charging for excess luggage and making oversized passengers book two seats.

So what do you think? Would this sort of policy be prejudicial against plus-sized passengers? How would airlines enforce the policies? And—perhaps most importantly—would passengers avoid airlines that had this kind of policy? Sound off in the comments below!

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