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.