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Transportation The Almighty Buck

Samoa Air Rolling Out "Pay As You Weigh" Fares 587

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the swim-instead dept.
cylonlover writes "Thrifty Samoans looking to take a trip may want to shed a few pounds before booking a flight with Samoan Air after the airline announced the implementation of a 'pay as you weigh' system. Unlike some other airlines that have courted controversy by forcing some obese passengers to purchase two seats, Samoa's national carrier will charge passengers based on their weight." They have a demo fare calculator for the curious.
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Samoa Air Rolling Out "Pay As You Weigh" Fares

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  • Not too surprising (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbone (558574) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @09:19AM (#43347417)

    I have been to Samoa, and you see a lot of extremely obese people there, even by American standards, so this does not surprise me.

    • by fyngyrz (762201) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @09:37AM (#43347653) Homepage Journal

      I'm big, and this seems perfectly reasonable to me. Weight and size affects the cost of transport, and it may affect seating as well.

      Though I have to say, if you charge more, but don't arrange for the comfort of both the larger persons and those that might be seated near them, you really aren't addressing the issue all that well. Pretending a seven foot tall guy fits in, or behind, or in front of, a seat designed for a five foot tall person (who apparently only has one arm, judging by the armrest configurations) isn't fooling anyone. Likewise, for widebody people, a seat designed for narrow hips doesn't cut it. If I sit in front of you, my head will be in your dinner plate if I recline at all. Well, ok, your peanut bag, anyway. If you sit in front of me, you're likely to find my feet right behind yours. This is part of the reason I no longer fly. The rest being accounted for by the TSA nonsense.

      Frankly, I'm amazed that "regular" size people put up with typical airline seating. Outside of first class. That's something else again.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @09:52AM (#43347903)

        "Put up with?" What's your alternative?

        I certainly don't like the cramped quarters, the one armrest per person, the tsa cancer/molestation, any of it.

        But again, what are you going to do?

        If I'm in Washington and tomorrow I'm supposed to be in Chicago, what am I going to do? drive for 12 hours? sure I could do that, but at current gas prices, unless I'm driving something getting 60mpg, I'm not saving much money vs flying. Not to mention the time lost. assuming 2 hour flight, and an hour and change at the airport before my flight to account for security, driving takes 3-4 times longer than flying. If it's a business trip, is your company ok with you essentially not working on tuesday so you can get to chicago on time for wednesday's meeting (and then skipping work again on thursday to drive back). if it's your own vacation time, you cool with blowing two entire vacation days just for driving? and what if we're not talking 1/3 of the country like chicago to washington. what if we're talking DC to LA. That's a 5 day trip at 9-10 hours of driving a day.

        ok, how about I take the train. I did that once, it took 23 hours. TWENTY THREE FREAKIN HOURS from leaving the front door of my house (at the time) in chicago to reaching my destination in washington. there were times the train was flying along at the awe inspiring speed of 30mph for hours at a time. Not to mention that it was the middle of August, the AC was broken (wheee 90' and humid even at midnight), and amtrak didn't care. "oh, yeah, we'll get right on that".

        So no, I don't like flying, but what's the alternative?

        • by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:01AM (#43347999) Homepage

          ok, how about I take the train. I did that once, it took 23 hours. TWENTY THREE FREAKIN HOURS from leaving the front door of my house (at the time) in chicago to reaching my destination in washington. there were times the train was flying along at the awe inspiring speed of 30mph for hours at a time. Not to mention that it was the middle of August, the AC was broken (wheee 90' and humid even at midnight), and amtrak didn't care. "oh, yeah, we'll get right on that".

          Last time I took a train it whooshed along at 300km/h all the way to Madrid (180mph in old units).

          It's quicker than flying once you factor in the travel to the airport, airport security, boarding, etc. Much nicer, too. You get a big seat with a proper table (if you want one) and huge bathrooms.

          • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:28AM (#43348289)

            Don't compare "socialist" Europe to "capitalist" US. It just ain't fair.

            Sorry, but that's exactly what privatizing some sectors get you. Investing will happen when there is absolutely, positively no way around it (like, say, the thing falls apart and cannot pass even the laxest security controls anymore) and service will be just as good as minimally required to keep people from not using the system at all.

            In a nutshell, I'd always prefer our "communist", train system. Yes, my taxes pay to no small extent for it and I hardly use it myself. Still, knowing that I'd be able to zip across the country for a fraction of the price of flying and knowing that this system is actually attractive enough for freight to clean the highways from trucks is enough for me to gladly pay for it.

            • by Obfuscant (592200)

              Don't compare "socialist" Europe to "capitalist" US. It just ain't fair.

              Don't compare relatively densely packed Europe to relatively spacious US, it just ain't fair.

              The issue is not socialism or capitalism, it's the fact that large parts of the US just don't have the population density to support rail travel of any kind, much less the high speed modern stuff.

              Let's put it this way, using cell as an analogy. Or driving. Or both. I just made a cross country trip on a major interstate highway. I was using my cell GPS for navigation. (Very boring. "Stay on I80 for 857 miles...".

              • Actually, I was under the impression that high speed rails make MORE sense on long distance due to rather long acceleration and breaking distances trains have. Here they use the 250+ kph trains only for trips where the stations they actually stop at are at least 50-100 kilometers apart, the rest is serviced by rather slow (80-100 kph) local trains.

                • by atriusofbricia (686672) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @12:00PM (#43349463) Journal

                  Actually, I was under the impression that high speed rails make MORE sense on long distance due to rather long acceleration and breaking distances trains have. Here they use the 250+ kph trains only for trips where the stations they actually stop at are at least 50-100 kilometers apart, the rest is serviced by rather slow (80-100 kph) local trains.

                  The thing you have to remember with the US is that there are large sections of the country where you can go and not see another person for weeks (or hours if you're moving fast enough). Not a car, not a house, nothing. So that high speed train would go out all that way and find no one who wants ride most of the time.

                  There are parts where it would make sense. Along the Coasts and down certain corridors currently served by Interstates. A line that follows Interstate 65 from top to bottom might do well. One that runs along Interstate 40 out west to Dallas might do well too.

                  The biggest thing that kills trains here though is a combination of relatively cheap cars with excellent roads and frequently cheap flights. You can fly half way across the country, from Kansas City to San Diego, for about 300 bucks round trip and do it in just 4 or 5 hours. No train will ever match that speed and even that cost might be a stretch. $400 will take you from New York to San Diego and back. 7 hours of travel time.

                  Unless airline prices spike stupid high why would we want to take a train which can't help but take at least twice as long, if not three times as long. Given it would likely take billions of dollars to build at this point for relatively little benefit.

                • The problem still is the vast distances with almost no one there because every little shit box town wants the train to stop there. I remember taking the Empire builder from St. Paul, Minnesota out to Glacier National Park when I was younger and stopping in all sorts of of little towns along the way where there wasn't anyone at the station but there was a 10 to 30 minute stop anyway. From what I remember the Empire Builder moves along at 90mph but because it stops at every crappy down the tracks go through i
              • by Luckyo (1726890) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @01:42PM (#43350513)

                Hi, I hail from a country with one of the lowest population densities on the planet: Finland. We have similar experiences with railroads as described by grandparent poster. Please try finding a better excuse.

              • by citizenr (871508) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @02:13PM (#43350873) Homepage

                Ah yes, just like rural Estonians get better internet service (cheaper, faster) than New Yorkers, all because of this densely populated rural areas.

            • Don't compare "socialist" Europe to "capitalist" US. It just ain't fair.

              Ah you see here in the UK we have the both of best systems. It's run by private companies but subsidised by the tax payer, so we get both the public cost and the private investment in infrastructure. As a bonus it means that subsidies are channeled to the shareholders with minimnal intervention!

              Brilliant!

              Actually, funnily enough it's not quite run by private companies, it's often run by state owned train countries from other countries.

              • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @11:58AM (#43349441)

                I was in the UK, and honestly I was shocked what the privatization did to your fine rail system. I was especially appalled by the famous London subways (and took a double take when I saw what they wanted from me to ride on it).

                Anyone claiming that privatization leads to "better service" or "more competitive pricing" should take a good look there. Then try a few other, government owned and operated, public transportation systems around Europe. And then tell me again with a straight face that privatization is a good idea.

                If he can, he might just be a politician...

                • by White Flame (1074973) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @12:32PM (#43349805)

                  The problem with things like subways is that there's no room for competition. You're not going to have 15 separate companies digging their own tunnels through the city and offering well-distributed terminals to everybody. When there's a tightly shared central resource, especially when based on physical real estate, it makes sense that the government of the area address it.

                • BBC America has been running articles this past week examining subway systems from various parts of the world. The first one I saw was Moscow and its near art museum-like stations.

                  Today they did South Korea (a system only 14 years old) and the British Tube (the oldest in the world). The South Koreans pay, roughly, $1 (said the news woman) to ride whereas the Tube will set one back, roughly, $7.

                  The New York subway is only $2.75.

                  Just some insights from a reliable source to compare price, service and how its

        • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:25AM (#43348273)

          what are you going to do?

          Vote for politicians who have the 25-year vision to fund and build an American high-speed rail network.

          • But trains are for commie pinkos! Unless you are talking about the old west in which case trains were all American and built this nation.

          • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:42AM (#43348489) Homepage Journal

            Not in this country. No one has a vision longer than the next election. I mean, NO ONE! And, they don't have a memory longer than the last election, either. This is why we have no five year plans, ten year plans, 25 year plans, or 100 year plans. We have no plans, period. We just lounge around, taking it easy, bullshitting the world into thinking we're something great.

            • by HungWeiLo (250320) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @11:43AM (#43349259)

              It's hard to have long term plans in a direct or indirect democracy. Too many people having too much say in things.

              Ignoring the social and economic costs for a moment - prior to the Beijing Olympics, the government built an entire subway line under a crowded world capital city in 7 months. Projects like this require a "benevolent" dictator.

          • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @11:17AM (#43348887) Journal

            Vote for politicians who have the 25-year vision to fund and build an American high-speed rail network.

            Rail (in the US) is pork, and nothing more. We've already spent millions nation-wide on high-speed rail projects and gotten no actual trains out of it. The idea might seem nice, in principle, but in fact it's just a pretty scam.

            Anyhow, in trains were popular, they'd just add the TSA to every train stop, and have TSA agents re-check your bags every hour just in case. You can't fix the TSA by making trains popular! The purpose of the TSA is to get people used to totalitarianism, so the TSA will be there wherever lots of people go.

        • But again, what are you going to do?

          I usually drive. I find there's a lot to be said for loading up my camera gear and suitcases in a fine automobile and taking off. There's no baggage limit, I get to eat at nice restaurants, sleep in luxury accommodations, my seating in the car itself is wonderfully comfortable, I control the environment, there are no crying babies or diseased traveling "companions", I get to pick the music, the when and what of mealtimes, I can use my cellphone (or ham/sw radio if I take

      • by tirefire (724526) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @10:18AM (#43348185)

        If you sit in front of me, you're likely to find my feet right behind yours. This is part of the reason I no longer fly. The rest being accounted for by the TSA nonsense.

        Same here, pretty much. The security took way too long at McCarran Int'l last time I was there. Then the plane ride was uncomfortable, even for a little guy like me.

        What we need is a new approach to passenger seating that takes into account security, comfort, and economy. How about this: Replace all the airline seats with padded tubes stacked like firewood (think Bruce Willis's trip to Phloston Paradise in The Fifth Element). Mix nitrous oxide in with the passenger tube's air to sedate them (I imagine it would be hard for a terrorist to hijack a plane while sedated). Safety procedure for an emergency landing is: you do nothing, because you're already limp (and therefore less likely to break bones) and you're wrapped in a giant padded burrito. Awesome. Maybe wake people up if you're ditching the plane in water, but otherwise, nah. Just eject their tubes a safe distance away from the aircraft upon landing.

        Imagine boarding a plane in Los Angeles, lying down on a comfy pad, and then the next thing you know... you're waking up in New York, or Paris, or Moscow, hearing the local time and weather from the soothing, confident voice of a captain who you just *know* held an eight-hour orgy with the rest of the flight crew while everyone else was sedated.

        Some people would throw up from the gas as they disembarked, sure, but that's a small price to pay. Plenty of people get airsick during turbulence and the airlines just give them a sack.

        • I actually like most of this idea, with two small caveats: 1) general anesthesia is risky; a small percentage of surgical patients die every year simply from the anesthesia, and 2) pretty sure I'd want my burrito to lock from the inside, so the flight crew doesn't steal my wallet or include sedated passengers in their in-flight orgy.
    • by azalin (67640)
      Looks like the slashdot effect still works. Samoa air is offline with a "508 Resource Limit Is Reached" error. Mind you not just the calculator but the whole page. Just like in the good old days.
  • Fairplay (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hedwards (940851)

    I have a definite issue with this sort of a system. Why should I, a 5' 10" man have to pay more for weighing 180# than a woman that's 5' tall and weighing only 100#? Genetics has a huge impact there, this isn't the result of my choosing to be an extra 10" taller than the woman and carrying the requisite weight that entails, it's an issue of the genes that I was born with.

    What's interesting about their approach is that it seems to ignore baggage, which is something which people can easily do something about.

    • Re:Fairplay (Score:4, Informative)

      by Rob the Bold (788862) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @09:23AM (#43347475)

      What's interesting about their approach is that it seems to ignore baggage, which is something which people can easily do something about. Sure, the morbidly obese can and should lose weight, but this seems like an awful lot of unwarranted discrimination against people who are taller and just larger regardless of causation.

      From the fare calculator:

      Step 2. Enter your details, including your estimated weight(s) of passengers and baggage

    • Re:Fairplay (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @09:26AM (#43347503)

      Simple. Because it costs the airline more to move 180lbs than it does 100lbs. Simple way of pricing tickets, you and all your luggage step on a scale and you're charged a per lb rate for your ticket. Very fair.

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        Simple. Because it costs the airline more to move 180lbs than it does 100lbs. Simple way of pricing tickets, you and all your luggage step on a scale and you're charged a per lb rate for your ticket. Very fair.

        Stop discriminating between passengers and luggage.

        I for one welcome our luggage losing overlords.

      • by KiloByte (825081)

        The chair, and more importantly, your slice of the aircraft, weights far more than your lard.

        I'd say it'd be more fair, and far simpler, to simply count seats actually needed to seat you. Ie, without trying to cram your fat ass while letting folds of flesh to spill over half of my seat. Having a few rows seat split into two rather than three seats would let your average American to pay for 1.5 rather than 2 seats, letting them travel more comfortably, and above all, pander to their dignity.

        • The chair, and more importantly, your slice of the aircraft, weights far more than your lard.

          I sincerely doubt that just the chair weighs significantly more than the passenger. Your slice of the aircraft? Well, let's see here. Let's go with a Boeing 747-400, since that's an extremely common jumbo. Operating weight, empty, is 394,100 lb. We'll assume a two-class configuration with 524 passengers, which is pretty common. 394,000 divided by 524 is about 750 pounds. So, yeah, it's definitely more than th

    • You are right. That's an extra $100 for extra leg room please sir.
    • by Cyberax (705495)
      Well, who says that life is fair?

      Do you get height-related discounts in supermarkets? No? Then why should airlines be any different?
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      You got to go on carnaval rides a lot younger than the woman; is that fair?

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Why is that her fault?

      Pants at big and tall stores cost more too. You cost more to move than her, so you pay more.

      • by tompaulco (629533)

        Why is that her fault?

        Pants at big and tall stores cost more too. You cost more to move than her, so you pay more.

        When you pay more at the big and tall store for pants, you get pants that are portioned for your size. When you pay more for an airline seat, you get seating portioned for a junior high student. That's what is not fare.

    • by Nite_Hawk (1304)

      I have a definite issue with this sort of a system. Why should I, a 5' 10" man have to pay more for weighing 180# than a woman that's 5' tall and weighing only 100#?

      It's easy: Because it costs more to ship you.

      Genetics has a huge impact there, this isn't the result of my choosing to be an extra 10" taller than the woman and carrying the requisite weight that entails, it's an issue of the genes that I was born with.

      What's interesting about their approach is that it seems to ignore baggage, which is something which people can easily do something about. Sure, the morbidly obese can and should lose weight, but this seems like an awful lot of unwarranted discrimination against people who are taller and just larger regardless of causation.

      None of this is the airline's problem. It's entirely reasonable for the airline to charge people based on how much it costs to fly them somewhere. In a lot of ways it's more honest than the current system where that 100lb woman is helping to subsidize your ticket.

      • by c (8461)

        In a lot of ways it's more honest than the current system where that 100lb woman is helping to subsidize your ticket.

        If your typical 100lb woman packs the same way my wife does, I'd say it's more likely that he's subsidizing her ticket.

      • by tompaulco (629533)

        It's easy: Because it costs more to ship you.

        That is correct. Because you weigh 50 pounds more than the woman, on an average 737, that extra 50 pounds represents a 5/100ths of a percent increase in total weight, and so therefore, you should pay an extra 15 cents on a typical $300 ticket.
        Okay, so that is tongue in cheek, but according to wikipedia, an extra 700 pounds represents a 1/2 percent increase in fuel burn. So let's assume a 70 pounds overweight person to make it easy. That is 1/20th of a percent increase in fuel burn. A typical two hour flig

    • Why should I, a 5' 10" man have to pay more for weighing 180# than a woman that's 5' tall and weighing only 100#?

      Physics, that's why.

  • by eksith (2776419) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @09:21AM (#43347441) Homepage
    That's really the bottom line here. Despite the negative stigma this may cause to the airline, I'm actually suprised this hasn't come about sooner. As it says, these are not big jets; they're small planes and the population doesn't exactly have a reputation for being skinny (and we can blame industrial "progress" for that).
  • by MarioMax (907837) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @09:22AM (#43347451)

    It appears that their cost formula is a strictly linear equation:

    Cost (price) = weight (kilograms) x rate (price per kilogram)

    Though their cost formula doesn't take into account the amount of airplane that each person also needs to haul around in addition to themselves; the price to fly children is disproportionately cheap, while larger adults are disproportionately expnsive.

    I probably would have priced it as such if my goal were to meet expenses

    Cost (price) = fixed_cost (price) + weight (kilograms) x rate (price per kilogram)

  • if you weigh more, it requires more gasoline, and total weight must be calculated on how the plane will preform. Now as a red blooded American, I also agree with this, if you don't like it don't fly it, or loose some weight, and stop being a pussy and saying its discrimination, at this point is about math and the total weight of the plane.
  • I am used to flying steerage / cargo class on airlines, getting service that is generally no better than that given to packages that I ship. I generally pay UPS by the pound, why shouldn't I pay airlines the same way?
  • More for longer flights. You estimate your weight when you book, then weigh in before the flight.
  • Being a rather skinny guy at 65kg, I'd obviously be OK with this. What I do wonder about is seat sizes/leg room. Does the cost of my ticket entitle me to as much space as someone who weighs 130kg (either by virtue of being tall or wide) who paid double what I did? That's the only thing I can immediately see as being unfair...
  • Maybe they should also increase the fee for health insurance more significantly if you're enormous. That would have to be more of a BMI thing but seriously, I should not be paying this much for insurance. I think the average increase for tobacco users is like 40% and it's even less for fat people. Well guess what! It should be 10x for tobacco users and 10x for fat people and then they can easily drop mine 4x. Talk about a motivator to lose weight and stop smoking! Flood insurance is calculated precise
  • Nice for child fares (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wile_e8 (958263) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @09:46AM (#43347807)
    As someone with daughter that just turned two years old, meaning we now have to pay for a ticket for her to fly, this sounds like a great deal to me.
  • And on a weight loss program. It does seem reasonable that heavy people should pay more for an airline ticket. It promotes health.

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