A survey of almost 2500 travellers by Travelzoo Australia reveals that almost one in three Australians believes airline passengers should be charged according to their weight.  Debate on this controversial topic was sparked yesterday by former Qantas Chief Economist Tony Webber who argued that “overweight” passengers should pay more to fly because airlines incur higher fuel costs to transport them.

The following question was part of a broader Travelzoo survey conducted in late December.

Airline baggage charges are calculated according to weight. On this basis, do you believe it is appropriate to charge people according to how much they weigh?

  • Yes – 31.7%
  • No – 68.3%

Mr Webber was quoted as saying: “I think it’s discriminatory that people who watch their weight actually have to pay a higher airfare because of people who are overweight.”

He advocates a system under which passengers would be charged extra for every kilo they are over a set weight limit. People who weighed less would pay less.

Brad Gurrie, General Manager, Travelzoo Australia, said Mr Webber’s comments were topical given the present aviation environment but warned it was wrong to assume that all people who weigh more than average are overweight.

“It’s certainly a big talking point, however I can’t see it happening any time soon – the first airline to do something like this would come in for heavy criticism,” Mr Gurrie said.

“You may also be seen as discriminating against people on the basis of their physique, something that may have legal consequences.’

“That said, it’s worth noting that for every person who would have to pay more under such a system, there would be other people paying less.”

Mr Gurrie also said it made no sense to isolate a passenger’s body weight from their baggage weight.

“If something like this ever went ahead you’d have to take both body weight and baggage weight into account.”


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