Passenger weigh-ins? Fat chance

Passengers already have to pay for a sandwich, a cup of tea and check in luggage …and now Ryanair want its clientele to pay £1 to spend a penny.

While many travellers consider using the on-board facilities as an occasional necessity rather than an extra, it seems the Irish budget airline’s chief views it as a convenient way of raising revenue.

But surely he’s the one who should be paying his cherished passengers to dump their excess intestinal baggage before getting on his aircraft ….

Let’s put it this way then, passengers who are lighter in their shoes are going to save on fuel, aren’t they? Any accountant could work that one out, eh, Mr O’Leary…?


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Consider this ….the future of air travel may well include passenger weigh-ins

according to Luggage Forward, those nice people who ship your luggage from doorstep to destination, reckon that not only are baggage and carry-on fees here to stay but also that you could soon be charged for your total weight, that’s baggage and your good self.

“It is the model used by virtually every company who profitably uses airplanes for transport – except airlines,” it points out.

Fair point but does regarding people as human cargo infringe their basic human rights? Could there be grounds for a case of discrimination, hurt feelings at least?

Jonathan Counsell (100-105kg, I reckon, with his socks on) who heads British Airways’s sustainability efforts recently told a London conference that when he was working for Air New Zealand, the airline launched an initiative to weigh Pacific Islanders.

Now, Pacific Islanders are officially among the fattest people in the world – especially the fairer sex – and not even the suave charms of Master Counsell could persuade them to step on the scales.

It’s a sure fire way of losing friends among your esteemed clientele who, as Counsell notes, may suffer from unfortunate metabolisms rather than an addiction to greasy chicken wings.

You may recall the Canadian Transportation Agency ruling early last year that gave Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet one year to bring in a “one-person, one-fare” policy.

The ruling applies to disabled people, including the severely obese, who require two seats to, something which was then estimated to cost Air Canada a cool $6.93 million a year, and WestJet about $1.48 million a year. That amounted to about 77 Canadian cents a ticket for Air Canada and 44 Canadian cents for WestJet.

Thin profits pickings, indeed.

China, too, is witnessing expanding bottoms generating their own shrinking bottom line with China Eastern Airlines reputed to have needed to remove 20 seats from their A321s because passengers were getting too large for the current configuration.

But there is a serious safety issue here too. Overweight people can threaten flight safety.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines complained some years ago that excessive passenger weight threatened flight safety after carrying out selective weigh-ins. Those revealed that the average passenger exceeded accepted industry estimates by three kilograms (6.6 lbs), bringing the total aircraft weight to one metric ton (2,200 lbs) over the limit.

That’s not funny when you consider that an overloaded aircraft requires extra fuel and a longer runway to ensure safety.

SAS said at the time that European flight safety requirements set 10 years ago, putting the average weight of a male passenger at 88 kg (194 lbs) and 70 kg (154.3 lbs) for females, were dangerously outdated.

The airline wanted to selectively weigh 20,000 of its passengers last year but held off the random weigh-in when the European Commission released new rules back in July in which they said that they would soon come back with updated standards. “We are still awaiting these figures,” SAS tells me.

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