Monday, 25 March 2013

Pay more if you weigh more

A barmy Norwegian scientist suggests that airlines should charge passengers according to body weight and Sky News makes it one of its top stories of the morning. Eamon Holmes bumbled through the piece in typical style, still under the delusion that appearing clueless and unprepared for every story is somehow charming. Guests included a strident woman from the "something must be done brigade." This is an increasingly vocal group that object to a great number of things but have no real clue how to fix them in practice. She would have us all book our seats as usual then queue at the airport whilst we are weighed and an army of airline staff process adjustments to the cost of our flight. Cue the arguments that would ensue as a family of four check in for their return flight from Malaga.
"That's impossible you must have weighed little Billy twice or something, can you check it all again please?"
"Well I said I was fifty kilos on the booking form but the desserts were so delicious I might have overindulged, I'm sure you can overlook it this once."
We would all have to get to the airport the day before our flight the queues would be that long. The airlines would have to introduce new systems and processes, staff would have to be hired and who would pay the price? Passengers both fat and thin of course.
I flew from Geneva to Gatwick today and BA failed to get the plane to the right terminal and once it got there, they couldn't get any steps to offload the passengers. They really don't need any more challenges.
Ms Strident also informed us that the BMI Index could be used so that only revoltingly fat people would be targeted, they had after all brought their vile bodies on themselves. Johnny Wilkinson, one of the finest rugby players to pull on an England shirt is clinically obese by that measure. Hands up all those who think he should be penalised for being a fat bastard. No I thought not.
Airline travel is already one of the most miserable, unpleasant experiences most of us inflict upon ourselves. Giving the airlines another opportunity to treat its customers like cargo would be the straw that breaks the camel's back. 

The professor in question is a Dr Bhatta, he thinks that a 90 kilo person should pay double the price for their ticket as a 45 kilo person. Yet a quick look at BA's accounts shows that fuel is less than a third of the company's costs. We aren't talking about getting heavier people to pay their way here, this is punishing them for not being thin. Who do we go after next? Google the professor and you will see that he is well known only because he made this suggestion. Expect an appearance on Norwegian Big Brother or its equivalent.  

Arguably there is an issue when someone is asked to sit next to a passenger who is so obese they simply do not fit into their seat. In thirty years of extensive international travel I have encountered this just twice. If you don't fit in the seat - I guess you probably ought to buy two tickets. Maybe airlines could be encouraged to offer slightly bigger seats to those of a fuller figure. But to put every passenger through a weigh-in is preposterous. The answer is simple, make the doors that lead to the check in area the same width as the seat you have purchased. Can't get through the door? Can't get on the plane. It's not rocket science.

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