Scaling Back

Where do I sign up?

The former chief economist at Qantas thinks it’s about time that airlines charged heavier people more for plane tickets as a matter of policy. “The rationale is simple,” writes Tony Webber in the Sydney Morning Herald. “The fuel burnt by planes depends on many things but the most important is the weight of the aircraft. The more a plane weighs, the more fuel it must burn.”  This kind of fat tax may seem discriminatory, but it’s sound business practice, he argues.

Webber advocates setting a standard weight…and then charging people a certain amount per pound that they exceed it.  Conversely, those under the limit would get a “petite” discount. Of course, this would mean weighing passengers at check-in, perhaps together with their luggage, and he acknowledges that the idea “won’t be easy to implement.” — Newser

This makes sense on so many levels it needs an elevator.  If you’re not overweight, you’re subsidizing airline passengers who are.  Just like when you pay your health insurance — if you’re not an obese diabetic smoker, your premiums go up anyway to pay for the care of those who are.  Ditto auto and life insurance– when you don’t commit fraud, you underwrite those who do.  Let’s stop talking about insurance.

Charging per pound would not only address the basic economic inequality of airline tickets, it would serve the same social function as prohibiting smoking in restaurants and firearms in bars (except in Florida, where a drunk packing heat is regarded as a disincentive to crime, specifically those that involve shooting.  Don’t ask).  Individuals would have the choice to change their habits and save money  — or not — but in both cases, there would be economic consequences.  And the free ride ends.

It’s hard not to notice that over the last 2 decades Americans have grown a whole lot larger — like, 20 pounds on average.  There are more people today who are overweight or obese, some of whom tragically young.  Meanwhile, the furniture has not kept up.  Seats in airplanes, trains, buses, theaters, and even park benches are the same dimensions as when the asses they cradled were a fraction of the girth they are now.  Just for fun — next time you spot a lifesaver, imagine trying to slip it around the average cruise line passenger.

If I had a dime for every lard-ass airplane passenger who has squeezed me like a canned sardine,  I’d have enough money to afford the second drink I desperately need to bear it.  If it costs more to transport somebody else’s fat ass than it does mine, why are we paying the same basic ticket price?  The airlines are socialists!

As for weighing passengers at check-in, this is far less troublesome and invasive than the carnival act performed already with gloved perverts groping genitals and squeezing colostomy bags in search of dangerous fingernail files.  Hop up on the scale, Dumbo, and see if you can top 350 with those fashionable thigh-high boots you can’t travel without.   (Ever play circus?  Sit on my face and I guess your weight?  Another time, another post.)  They could set up a leader board and have contests — $2 bets on highest and lowest weight, clear the board every hour.  All proceeds support Overeaters Anonymous.  Hell — we’re soon going to have gambling everywhere else, right?

None of this ever happen for the same reason that Congress will never agree to a tax hike: the ones who decide would be negatively impacted.  It’s damn near impossible to get anybody to do something that mitigates against what he believes is his own best interest, even when he’s officially charged to do so.  That’s why there’s anger in the streets and cranks on the blogs.  And fat people in airplanes.

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6 Responses to Scaling Back

  1. ya' gotta' guessit says:

    The solution is simple, Squathole.

    Merely have these fat sons-of-bitches reclassified as *cargo*, and put he/she/it down in the hold with the dogs and cats – any one of which, I’d rather have seated next to me.

    Well, maybe not the cats.

    Definitely no cats.

    The cats ride below, with fatty.

    • Hugh Bris says:

      This guy nails it exactly. There needs to be an airplane seat at check-in under a sign saying ‘YOU MUST FIT IN THIS SEAT TO RIDE IN COACH” and anybody who doesn’t pays a fine and is fucking cargo.

  2. Libby Rae Shone, Ph.D. says:

    This time, as you provide another classic example of victim-blaming here, you multiply your misjudgment and bad taste by evoking and corrupting a legitimate economic principle.

    Most obese and overweight individuals suffer from eating disorders. Blaming them for their condition is akin to blaming lung cancer victims for coughing, or, for that matter, senior citizens for being old.

    In my practice as a specialist in treating eating disorders of all kinds, one of the first principles we establish is that the patient needs to accept his or her limitations, not fight them or feel shame. Forcing people to be weighed publicly like cattle or cargo would be an act of cruel humiliation, and would accomplish nothing but create misery among already fragile persons.

    I realize you may be attempting satire here, but if so, you’ve done little more than exercise the bad taste and warped values I’ve learned to expect from you.

    • Squathole says:

      I’m proud of you, Libby — you actually, if tentatively, recognized satire when it smacked you in your face. Your reading skills are improving

      But as usual, you blur the line between helping people recognize their limitations, as you put it (more on that later) and enabling, as in, reinforcing bad practices. True, most of your patients are not going to grow the body of an athlete or a model, and they shouldn’t kill themselves aspiring to do so. Big duh. But nor should they use that self-directed negative evaluation to eat themselves obese or starve themselves out of existence. You and your evil ilk, in your professional practices, consistently fail to deliver the second message because (a) you’re busy telling them bullshit like, “Get comfortable with your own body no matter how hideously you abuse it after all it’s nature’s doing not yours,” and (b) the longer they abuse themselves, the more money you make on professional fees, references, third-party payments, and in some cases, medication.

      Vampires.

      Rather than advising people to “accept their limitations,” you should be telling them to test their limits and find their best levels. It’s a more positive way of getting to the same place. Of course, a more positive patient presents a bigger risk to your regular revenue stream, so I guess that’s not in play ever.

      Thanks for stopping by. It’s always informative and entertaining.

  3. One Man's Opinion says:

    1st off, squatty, I have to disagree with you on the point about the size of the seats being the same now as when our nations citizenry were of more normal sizes. Most airlines re-fitted their cabins with smaller seats so that they could get more [seats] in. They don’t care about the overage in the aisles (or the passenger trapped in the middle seat). 2nd, Libby you are an fee sucking idiot, as squatty suggests. While I agree some people have diseases/disorders which affects their metabolism & therefore their weight, they are fewer then you would have your patients believe. Also I understand that people living in poverty are often over weight do to extremely poor nutrion, but few in poverty are flying around the country. Yeah people have “eating disorders”…..they eat too fucking much of too fucking fatty, unhealthy foods, PERIOD!

  4. Labrys says:

    I agree that airline seat size is an issue. However, not all heavy people have eating disorders; and while I personally ascribe to the theory that high fructose corn syrup in every other item of the American diet is a contributing factor to weight gain; none of those things help the poor schmuck in seat B6 next to seat B5 where a person who weighs twice as much is sitting. The seat mate in B5 flows over the raised armrest squeezing the poor bastard in B6 into half his allotted seat space.

    Airlines charge for overweight baggage. It seems pretty simple to me, have an airline seat right there by the ticket counter and if the person buying the ticket sits in it and laps over both sides, he or she buys two tickets. Period. It really doesn’t matter whether weight is an illness. Alcoholism is an illness; people who drive while drunk still have to pay the consequences. So, if you need two seats to contain your physical bulk, you should not squash the person next to you because you don’t want to pay more for the room you need. Super sized clothing, for instance, often costs more because so much more fabric is used.

    Or perhaps airlines could put in rows with bigger seats FOR larger passengers? And charge more, but not necessarily double.

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