Air Fares based on Weight

Following on from my post from two weeks ago about Air Samoa charging by the kilo to fly, Dr. Bharat P. Bhatta from Norway has proposed three models that he asserts would benefit “airlines, passengers and society” by cutting each flight’s fuel usage and carbon dioxide emissions.  His three “pay as you weigh” models are:

  1. Total weight: A passenger’s luggage and body weight is calculated, with the fare comprising a per kilogram (kg)  cost. In this scenario a passenger weighing 80kg (178 pounds) with 20 kg (44 pounds) of luggage would pay a fare of a base amount times 100. This is the model that Samoa Air uses.
  2. Base fare +/- extra: A base fare is set, with a per-kilo discount applying for “underweight” passengers and a per-kg surcharge applying to “overweight” passengers.
  3. High/Average/Low: A base fare is set, with a predetermined discount applying for those below a certain weight threshold and a predetermined surcharge applying for those above a certain weight threshold. Bhatta prefers this option.

Weight could be ascertained through passenger self-declaration, with one in five passengers randomly selected and weighed to dissuade cheats (with penalties for cheaters) or by weighing all passengers at check in (which is what Air Samoa does).

Bhatta’s reasoning is that for every kilogram less a plane carries, an airline saves $3000 per year. Get 400 passengers to fly with a kilo gram each less, means a carrier could save $1.2million a year.


  1. Great idea! Of course, airlines would also need to weigh flight attendants and pilots daily and make appropriate cuts as needed. After all, it’s not a service industry. It’s an exercise in humiliation and public embarrassment.

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