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Paying by the Pound -- You AND Your Luggage

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by PRlady, Apr 22, 2013.

  1. PRlady

    PRlady flipflack

    As a frequent international flyer, I was bemused by today's article on the theory that the combination of what you and your luggage weigh could determine the cost of your plane ticket: http://www.nbcnews.com/travel/u-s-f...ld-buy-second-seat-1C9511172?ocid=msnhp&pos=1.

    I'm a medium-sized person with a bad habit of overpacking, especially shoes. :) If I lose weight do I get another pair of shoes in there?

    Seriously, this looks like a discrimination case waiting to happen, but the weight restrictions on luggage do seem to set a precedent that heavier can cost more. I really am not sure how I feel about this.
  2. my little pony

    my little pony war crawling into canada

    i think it makes total sense to pay based on total weight. however, i'm not sure any company has the balls to start weighing people.
  3. snoopy

    snoopy Team St. Petersburg

    A can of worms waiting to be opened…….because while I believe it costs more to fly a 200 pound person than a 100 pound one…it is essentially going to start a bunch of sex discrimination cases. On average men weigh more than women, so men are going to pay more. And once you go down that road of profit being the driving factor for everything....women are more expensive to health insurers than men – so a 25 year old female about to have 3 kids? Watch your rates go up. And why should we hire you anyway when you are about to go on maternity leave?
  4. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    The fact is the heavier the load the more fuel the airline spends. I really don't think it's fair for the airline to spend twice as much fuel for a 300 pound person verses a 150 pound person yet in theory they pay the same price. I doubt any airline would do this but I also didn't think they would get larger people to buy two seats. They have total control of the luggage though and I'm sure will change the regulations of weight as they see fit.

    It's really no different than men paying more for a shirt at the Big-N-Tall store over men who can buy their clothes anywhere. They clothing company spends more on more fabric and the cost is passed to the consumer.
  5. Andora

    Andora Skating season ends as baseball season begins

    I could see this not flying because it's men who would invariably be the ones to pay more, as a whole. Women are used to paying more for everything-- clothes, haircuts, shaving razors identical to men's save pink colouring-- and nothing changes. Once men are in the same boat, it's discrimination. :p
  6. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

    Andora: I dunno, I've seen lots of women who would be paying a LOT of money to fly.

    And I've said for years the airlines would LOVE to bill passengers by weight because it's one more way of treating them like cargo. My brother (whose MBA is in aviation business administration)...does not disagree exactly when I bring this up.
  7. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

    I fail to see why a 180lb person is such a hardship for an airline as opposed to a 100lb person that it would consider implementing such a draconian policy.

    Honestly, I am astonished at the rate of support. 40% approval for such a policy? Lots (most?) people buy tickets in advance online. How do you determine price? And what happens if something occurs in the interim that causes weight gain, i.e. pregnancy? Or, say, I got on a diet and lost weight in the interim--can I get a refund? I used to weigh myself quite regularly and when I did I had a set pattern (in the morning, before breakfast, etc). Don't weigh me at 7pm after I ate dinner with all my clothes on.

    I would question the premise that consumers at the Big-N-Tall pay more for their clothing than consumers elsewhere. I'm pretty sure the folks (even the short and skinny ones) at Brooks Brothers spend more money, for instance.

    And besides purchasing fabrics at those fabrics stores that I have no interest in, I'm pretty sure that the amount of fabric used is not such a huge factor in the setting of prices. Some baby clothes and women's underwear costs more than the suits I buy at a place like Men's Warehouse.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
  8. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    Fuel is just part of the costs of flying passengers. There are other cost that are fixed and some that are not fixed but not dependent on weight.

    And airlines do charge larger people for two seats. Of course over the years they consistently shrunk the size of the seats and the space between them and then they started charging people for not fitting and acting like it was all their fault.

    It's because (a) they aren't remotely customer focused and (b) they think they can get away with it.

    I remember when I lost 100 pounds and how excited I was to fly for the first time. I thought: now I don't have to stress about the person next to me being sure every time I accidentally bump into them, it's because I'm so fat. And finally I'll be comfortable in my airline seat as I haven't been in years. :HA!: First of all, the "average" person is too big for the average airline seat. So my seat mates spilled over into mine. Then, even though I was in the middle, they BOTH hogged the armrests. I was as uncomfortable as I ever was. The only difference is that I wasn't self-conscious about it because I knew it wasn't anything about me that was causing the problem.

    People lack sell-awareness. Those same men who hogged my armrests and were spilling over in their seats are probably all for this policy thinking it will show those other people who are so fat and never dreaming that it could impact them negatively even though they are also in the overweight or obese category.

    At least that's my take on it.
  9. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    So it's not their fault for needing two seats or seatbelt extenders? Who's fault is it? :shuffle:

    I've been flying for 35 years and have got slightly bigger over the years but never to the point of not fitting in the seats-even if they have been 'shrunk' by the airlines. If it ever comes to a point where I do need those things, it will be up to me to loose weight to be more comfortable not airlines making their seats wider.

    Or they could take out the middle seat and charge $2000 for a flight from NYC to Philly to compensate. People would be more comfortable but pay a higher price. It is a money making business so it doesn't surprise me they look for ways to make more money but it's not like they want to charge blondes more than brunettes.

    Yes, fuel is not the only part of the cost but it is one part. More poundage more fuel, that's why they put a limit on the baggage in the first place or pay more for more luggage.
  10. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    This issue came up on another site I frequent a couple of weeks ago. One of the main points (that I agree with) is that people are not shaped like luggage, and can't be stacked - although airlines seem determined to get human seating as close to stacking us on a diagonal as they can.

    If we're going down this road, then why not make the seat widths adjustable in a way so that you move the armrests to accommodate the size of the passenger, so you can fit in as many width-wise as makes sense. This would of course require people to give their dimensions upon check-in, would reduce freedoms in seat selection to get the most people in the plane as possible, and would result in thin people getting seats that are as tight to their frames as current seats are to wider folks. It's all about moving products! :D

    That already happens. Young men are the best thing, from an employer standpoint, to keep health care costs down. Childbearing age women? oy. we don't even have the option to pinky swear that we're never having children!
  11. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Danish Ice Dance! Go Laurence & Nikolaj!

    Well, I must admit that while it seems reasonable that my ticket (I'm overweight) and my husbands ticket (who is normal weight) is the same price - our weight range is still close, why am I paying full price for my 30 lbs 2 year old? travelling domestically he doesn't even get luggage, at least internationally he does for most airlines with a fully paid ticket. I think the point is that it all averages out for the airline. This is just a ploy to get more money for heavier people, it is not like they are going to sell cheaper tickets to lower weight persons or children.

    And I think they would get lots of lawsuits.
  12. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    You are missing the point. The airlines control the seat size. They made them smaller and closer together (this is well documented) and at the same time started charging people for not fitting into them as if there was no relationship between them changing the seat configuration and more people not fitting.

    In other industries, as the customers get bigger, so do the seats. That's what happened in the movie industry. You don't see them whining about how they can't fit as many people into a theater as they used to so they'll go out of business if they don't start charging people by how wide they are.

    The airlines, in general with a few exceptions, haven't understood how to attract and keep customers for years. This "let's charge by the pound" idea is just the latest in a long line of bad ideas that drive more and more people away from airline travel because it's unpleasant and costly.

    Exactly. When they start giving me a discount for being thin, we can talk. ;)
  13. rjblue

    rjblue Having a great day!

    According to the piece I listened to on the CBC radio- Samoan Airlines is charging by weight, not number of people, so a thin family of five could conceivably fly for the same price as an obese man. It's a concept that would work really well with small passenger plane, not so much the jumbo jets.
  14. Nan

    Nan Just me, retired

    If you want to charge me 20% more for my seat because I weigh 20% more than the set base line, that's fine, I'll then decide if I want to pay the price or not. If I decide to pay it, I'd better get 20% more seat space.
  15. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    You can't compare across brands. You need to look within brands, comparing like to like. Apples to apples. For example, a specific Land's End ladies shirt I just looked up is $54.00 for all sizes in regular, petite and tall. It is $64.00 for all sizes designated "plus".

    And the amount of fabric used actually is a major contributor to the price of a garment. According to the NY Times, material is up to 60% of a garment's cost. In addition, the costs of making plus sized items are higher for manufacturers for reasons beyond the fact that the item may need more material. The issue with plus sized items is that they often require a different production process than petites, talls and regulars do, including the use of wider bolts of fabric, which are more expensive and which, depending on the garment, can require different machinery.
  16. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

    And you'd have to charge more for people who widen the seats (and more for everyone as you'd fit fewer people on the plane.) Every place you don't fit a person or paid cargo that you COULD is wasted space and empty space wastes money.

    If airlines made the seats larger, they would have to start charging the real value of the seats, not what whiny cheapskates in coach are willing to pay. Jet fuel is not getting any less expensive, while people want to pay low airfares. If you want to see larger seats...fly in business class or in first on short domestic flights and pay those rates (which are a lot closer to being profitable rather than operating at a loss for the airline.) If people insist on dirt cheap airfare, they're going to be packed in like cattle to make up for it. If they demand bigger seats and therefore fewer passengers, they should expect doubled airfares. And more overbooks, because the airlines will have to be sure the flight leaves filled, meaning they have more no-shows to account for.

    As for it not being THAT big a deal...um, yes, it is. Every ounce on an aircraft matters, plus it matters where the weight's concentrated. With the cargo, putting a pallet in the wrong place can be the difference between taking off and crashing. There's a REASON even Southwest won't let everybody crowd up at the front of the aircraft.

    And of COURSE airlines would like to make a profit. They barely manage in some cases and a lot of times don't, with part of the reason being people want to fly, but they don't want to pay profitable rates for a coach seat. There's a reason airlines bend over backwards for business travelers flying business class-they pay enough the airlilne makes something. Since the coach passengers refuse to pay enough to cover the operating costs of the seat, the airlines compensate by cramming as many in as they can. People fat enough to take up two seats need to be paying the cost of that other fare they couldn't fit in. And it takes a LOT to do that. I'm no slender reed but I've never needed two seats or a belt extender.

    Airlines are businesses providing a service using their property, the aircrafts. No one has an absolute RIGHT to fly or to fly for cheap. If they decide to just straight-up charge by weight, get weighed or don't fly. People who don't like the policy are free to take ground transportation.
  17. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

    I can when the poster I responded to was comparing across brands. Besides, a man's shirt at the Gap is the same price, whether it's x-small or x-large. The same suit at JC Penney is the same price, regardless of size. I have never had to worry about the price of a man's garment because of my size.

    As for Land's End, I'll just say it. Not sure why women don't complain more about these things.
  18. taf2002

    taf2002 zexy demon

    Wrong. My husband shops at a bigNtall type store. They sell name brands like Arrow, Ralph Lauren, & Van Huesen, etc. We often see the same shirts at Dillards & Macys, except he pays $75 - $125 per shirt for his; theirs are more like $40 - $80.

    However, I would be violently against airlines charging more based on weight. If the person needs to buy 2 seats that's one thing but if they fit into the seat then the airline needs to charge the same to all.
  19. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    To clarify, XL isn't considered a plus size.
  20. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    :rofl: No, it's an opportunity to make more money, just like bank charges and cell phone fees and any number of other user fees, surcharges and taxes.

    I used to fly with a cat - it was about $80 per trip. She weighed less than 15 lbs carrier included, I personally transported her door to door, she didn't use any services or have any snacks, and she took up no space in the overhead or baggage hold, because she was under my seat the whole time.

    Zero reason to charge me for a cat and not for other hand luggage, but they did.

    Yes, that amazed me too. But then again we seem to be in that mode lately - the answer to everything seems to be to put a tax on it, and for some reason rather than finding ways that we can all live better, people focus on ways to make others suffer.
    PRlady and (deleted member) like this.
  21. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    Yes, but an XL takes more material than an XS. But most people would be indignant if they had to pay few bucks more for their L and XL compared to what I pay for my XS and S clothes.

    Also, a SuperDuperBig drink has more 'stuff' in it than a SuperSmall drink but some fast food places have started to have one price for all drinks regardless of size. That's because it makes sense when you look at the big picture of what it costs to sell you that drink. What things costs is not just a factor of what the raw ingredients cost. There are many factors that go into a setting a price. In the case of the airlines, fuel cost is just one of them. Think about these other costs:

    Pilots - you need two and that cost is fixed. If there is 1 person on the plane or 100, there are still two pilots (on a jet, not a puddle jumper)
    Stewards - that cost is per passenger. Heavy passengers don't need more stewards than smaller passengers - there is no way to measure ahead of time how demanding a passenger will be
    The Plane - another fixed cost and the biggest cost - when a plane is first put into service, it's all about recouping the cost of the plane and the rest is noise
    Maintenance - relatively fixed, more a function of plane use than how many passengers are on a particular flights and how heavy they are
    Amenities - a combination of fixed costs and per passenger costs
    Advertising - variable but not based on passenger size at all
    Airport usage & other services - relatively fixed, more tied to usage so could be somewhat impacted by # of passengers, but not tied to passenger size at all
    Ticketing - there's both the cost of issuing/tracking a reservation/ticket which is per passenger and fixed costs of having a ticketing/reservation/check-in system

    I'm sure there are other costs I'm not thinking of and I'm sure they are not based on weight.

    I think the airlines have done a good job of selling the public on the idea that it's all about fuel. We all pay at the pump and have felt the pain of rising fuel costs so it's something we can relate to. Plus size prejudice is socially acceptable and most of us had to deal with having a seatmate who doesn't really fit in their seat too and it can be unpleasant. So pushing that angle can work for the airline.

    But only up to a point. At some point the public is going to rebel, IMO. As has been pointed out, paying by weight isn't really logistically practical. Are people going to fly an airline that makes them feel like cattle going to market? I think about when I was more self-conscious about my weight and every time I went somewhere I had to be weighed I would play games like wear light clothing and not eat until after I got weighed, etc. I don't really want to be playing those games when I fly.
  22. PRlady

    PRlady flipflack

    Personally I think the flying experience has become a nightmare, and that's with my spending slightly more, when I can, for Economy Plus to get those precious five inches of legroom. Overnight in coach to the Middle East is the experience that makes even hospital stays look comfortable and fun.

    I do muse that packing less or more is an individual choice, and one we are increasingly paying for since not just checked but-carry-on baggage has limits, weights and sometimes extra charges. My feeling is that if they are going to force me to pack less, I don't mind being weighed together with my luggage to get the benefit of being a roughly 135 pound person; why should a guy weighing twice what I weigh get the same baggage allowance?
  23. Nan

    Nan Just me, retired

    But you know that they wouldn't boost your allowance up to match his combined total, they would just charge him for how much he exceeded yours.
  24. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    We probably all know this stuff is somewhat arbitrary. My feet are small, and sometimes, I can fit into a child/youth size shoe or - in the best possible world - skate boot. Which in the case of shoes, saves me money, and in the case of skates, saves me a *boatload*. In some brands, I wear a women's shoe size. In others, a youth. So in reality, the youth size I wear and the women's size I wear are actually the same size. Same amount of leather, etc. So similarly, in clothing, why is a size XL, which is approx a women's 14, 16, or 18 (depends on the brand), less expensive than if I said it's a size 18 and put it in the plus size section? Not to mention the fact that a size 14 in one brand is much larger than in another. It's arbitrary. Goodness, by the clothing company's logic, a petite XS should cost less than an XL as you noted. But we all know that's not how pricing works.

    I have no doubt that large sized clothing costs more to make than small sized clothing, and that the reasons given are valid. But is the cost break point at the point where they designate a size as a plus size, exactly? I'd doubt it. So they pick a size they make as the break into "plus", and put their price break there. Doesn't mean the XL costs them less to make than the 18. Just where they're putting their line.
  25. UMBS Go Blue



    1. In the long run, airlines have had razor-thin profit margins, if and when they make money. Worse, when they lose money, they do so spectacularly, more than compensating for the good years. You'd be hard-pressed to find worse industries to operate in.
    2. Therefore, maximizing revenues, and minimizing costs, is of perpetual concern to airlines.
    3. When jet fuel was cheap, it comprised only 10-15% of U.S. passenger airlines' operating costs.
    4. Now that jet fuel is expensive, it comprises 30-35% of U.S. passenger airlines' operating costs. It is now the #1 cost item for airlines. (Labor, maintenance, and other support functions, while usually thought of as variable - a.k.a. adjustable - cost items in other industries, are really semi-fixed costs for airlines, for many reasons, and the costs for each of these individual items no longer exceed that of jet fuel, which, cost-wise, is more variable than fixed.)
    5. It goes without saying that an airplane needs to burn more fuel to stay up in the air, the more weight it needs to carry. While a 300 lb passenger vs. a 180 lb passenger doesn't sound like much when you consider that the plane weighs so much more than that, every single pound adds up, especially when multiplied by # of passengers and # of bags.
    6. Therefore, airlines spend a lot of effort thinking about how to minimize fuel costs. This goes right down to using lighter seat cushions, tossing out redundant coffee machines and pantry equipment, and replacing bulky pilots' manuals with lighter iPads.
    7. At the same time, if airlines piss people off and don't fly anyone, they don't make money. So, constant tinkering with the revenue-cost tradeoff will continue to be the norm.

    Here are some links where people have taken the thought process out much further and have tried to quantify marginal fuel cost, per pound, per flight:


    Also, here are some random links to how airlines charge for freight:

  26. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    On the thread topic, I don't want to get into whether this would work for every airline, but I think it makes a lot of sense for Samoa Air.

    According to Wikipedia, the airline has three planes in their fleet - two which take nine passengers, one which takes three. On planes that size, the weight of the passengers and/or their luggage is going to make a lot of difference to how much fuel the plane uses and how it handles in the air. It could be a real safety issue. So if charging by total weight is going to encourage people to think about how much they *really* need to bring along, and make it easier for the airline to manage their flights without having to deal with unexpectedly large amounts of luggage, I think that's a good thing.

    When I've traveled in planes that size, which thankfully hasn't been that often because they scare me :eek:, the ticket has always stated a maximum weight for luggage, and still people show up with many more bags than that, and expect the airline to somehow find space for them. Admittedly some of this has been in fairly remote areas, where you have to bring more stuff than usual because there aren't many stores to go to if you run out of something. But people still bring way more than they really need, and it can be a real problem for the airline - because the regulations they are operating under also have maximum weight limits for luggage, to ensure the plane is safe to fly.

    I get that a rule like this might be kind of unfair to larger people, because more person-weight means less luggage-weight under these kinds of rules, but the reality is that weight of any kind is something that the airlines have to regulate for safety reasons.
  27. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

    They charge tall people more. That is if they are lucky enough to get the seats with extra leg room. I think the airlines should have restrictions on the extra leg room seats. I realize that anyone can pay for them. But, why should a 5 year old child have a seat with leg room and a 6'3" person be crammed into the regular seat because there are no more extra leg room seats?

    I also get :mad: when people bring more carry ons than they should. there is a two bag limit, purses count as 1. And you see early boarding people shoving so many bags in the overhead that half the people on the plane can't put anything in.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013
  28. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    Which is pretty much my point. The airlines have done a good job of selling some of their pricing schemes but that doesn't make them less arbitrary. I remember when banks were charging people extra to use ATMs -- even though using the ATM cost the bank less. But people paid the charges because they saw using an ATM as some sort of perk.

    Bottom line: companies charge what they can get away with and fairness often has little to do with it.
  29. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Danish Ice Dance! Go Laurence & Nikolaj!

    On that note, I suddenly remembered a frequent flyer friend of mine who said that some airlines has tried to differentiate (bigger seats, better food?) but it turns out that most people just buy the cheapest fare. I think that is somewhat true, though some airlines like Thai and Emirates are considered 'luxury' airlines.

    I remember when we were flying from Denmark to Bangkok years ago, I coach tickets on Aeroflot over Moscow was about 20% cheaper than Scandinavian (direct), and Scandinavian was bout 100% cheaper than Thai. So, yeah, we chose Scandinavian.
    And recently going to Mexico I was saving us 50$/ticket by getting a very, very early plane. Because even if I hate flying in the morning, it feels silly to choose the more expensive flight.
  30. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

    I don't know that people who travel coach are whiny cheapskates. The jump from coach pricing to (even) business class pricing is huge. I would be willing to pay an extra $100 or two to have the old bigger seats. But, the extra $1,000 or two, I can't afford. I'm skinny, but tall. My legs don't fit in the regular seats. i am also considerate of the person behind me, and don't put my seat back. long flights are miserable. They have cut back on a lot. Charging for checked bags, which wrecks havoc with people trying to bring everything they own as carry on. Charging for food/snacks/beverages. They should allow 1 free bag whether you check it or carry it on.