The more you weigh, the more you pay

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Karin Villanueva

Samoa Air is now charging tickets by body weight. Heavier travelers are now literally and unfairly paying for their weight.

Today, islanders depend solely on airline companies. With Samoa Air’s new pay-by-weight ticket pricing, culturally heavier Samoan islanders and other overweight travelers are getting treated unfairly in Samoa Air’s latest marketing technique.

The new regulation was released last week that Samoa Air will be charging passengers for the weight they bring on the aircraft, which includes their optional checked-in and carry-on bags and required body weight. Flying prices range from $1 to $2 for every kilogram (about 2.2 pounds). If Hawaii-born, college athlete of Samoan descent Manti Te’o decided to take a one-way trip from Faleolo, Samoa, to Pago Pago, America Samoa, 241-pound Te’o would pay $231.08 just for body weight alone. By adding a 30-pound check-in bag to an already outrageous ticket price would total out to $260.76.

According to farecompare.com, American Airlines was the first airlines to charge for checked bags in May 2008, which opened a gateway for most airlines to start charging for checked bags. Before charging for all checked bags, airlines allowed each passenger one checked bag for free. This was a time when airlines cared whether their passengers had enough underwear for a long business trip or a long family vacation. Consumers would call a small caring gesture from a company customer service, but apparently airlines’ definition of customer service is clearly different from their passengers. Airlines are losing their sense of customer service by continually finding ridiculous ways to charge customers.

The airline industry is a service business that is based around customer service. If all airlines started to charge not only the weight of customers’ bags but also how thick or thin a customer is, what are the airlines saying to their customers? The more you weigh, the more you pay, thus treating customers like cargo. Asking a woman or any weight-conscience person to step on a scale in middle of an airport to determine their ticket is outright disrespectful to the consumer.

Although paying by weight may give thinner travelers a better advantage, Samoa Air flies strictly throughout Samoa – and some close-by islands – making most of their passengers of Samoan ancestry, who are naturally heavier. Charging Samoans according to their weight to travel is completely unjust and basically morally wrong.

“You are the master of your Airfair, you decide how much (or little) your ticket will cost. No more exorbitant excess baggage fees … Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple,” Samoa Air said on its website.

Samoa Air claims that passengers can control their ticket price, but controlling weight is impossible for many people, especially for most Pacific Island ethnicities, which include Samoans. Then to state that everything is “simple” can be demeaning to the passengers who have a harder time dropping weight. If weight is extremely important to Samoa Air, then why doesn’t it charge flight attendants, pilots and other employees to fly? If an average 5-foot-7-inch, 136-pound female flight attendant worked a Samoa Air flight from Falelolo, Samoa, to Pago Pago, American Samoa, then Samoa Air is basically forfeiting about $130.

Samoan locals way of traveling is controlled by Samoa Air. Having Samoans and other travelers pay by their weight is unfair. Airline companies are finding new ways to rob consumers of their money. Samoa Air argues that they are giving passengers the choice of how much they pay, but for people who are naturally heavy-set, like Samoans, their decision of paying a lower price is completely eliminated. Samoa Air’s new marketing strategy is just another way to manipulate passengers into spending unnecessary money.