Years ago we covered the launch of a new airline operating out of Philadelphia, Derrie-Air, that charged passengers by the pound. It made sense; "the more you weigh, the more you'll pay. After all, it takes more fuel—more energy—to get more weight from point A to point B. So we will charge passengers based on how much mass they add to the plane." It was a spoof, but as usual we played it straight and commenters were outraged.
I don't know why. Being small and light, I am outraged at paying the same as the guy twice my weight sitting next to me with much of his body hanging over into my seat. Fuel consumption is directly related to weight, so why not charge accordingly? Surely some airline is going to try this?
On CBC Radio recently, I learned of Atlanta airline startup North Gulf Air. It charges a flat $29 base fare for the first 90 pounds plus $2.50 a pound for everything over in luggage and body weight. Pat Kelly interviewed CEO Clarence Hickey:
Airlines have no choice but to charge passengers extra fees, if customers don't want to pay more I encourage them to travel light ... leave the carry-on at home and don't wear heavy shoes.
He was so sensible about this. I went running to my computer to look up North Gulf Air and some news of this fare structure and couldn't find it. Because once again it was a spoof, a brilliant one on This Is That.
Spoof or not, it still makes sense to charge by the pound when as much as 40% of an airline's operating costs can be for fuel. We pay FEDEX by the pound, why should people be different? What do you think?