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Weight x Distance = Flight Cost.
April 2, 2013 4:04 PM   Subscribe

Samoa Air announces it will start charging passengers by weight.
posted by modernnomad (81 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I predict there will be some angry samoans.
posted by zippy at 4:08 PM on April 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Man, those Samoans are a surly bunch.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:09 PM on April 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


I don't envy the airline employee who has to explain the new policy to these Samoans.
posted by item at 4:10 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Context: Man, those Samoans are a surly bunch.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 4:11 PM on April 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Manti Te'o's girlfriend flies free.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:11 PM on April 2, 2013 [21 favorites]


If you fly Samoa, don't eat too many samoas.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:14 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


In related news, cats that fly on Samoa Air aircraft will be required to be declawed, and only Apple laptops will be permitted to be turned on and used in-flight.
posted by killdevil at 4:14 PM on April 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm betting that after a short period of milking this for free publicity, the customers will get annoyed at the regular weigh ins and not being right about what they'd guestimated (thus having to pay more) and the airline will give it up.

Who knows though, Spirit and Frontier are shitty enough to give this a go in the states.
posted by klangklangston at 4:16 PM on April 2, 2013


I'm happy to make a trade: I'll pay in proportion to my weight if the airline provides me (6ft 2, somewhat long-legged 250lb) a comfortable seat.

By "comfortable" I mean a seat where my shoulders do not touch those of the person(s) sitting next to me and my knees are not crammed up against the seat in front of me.
posted by chimaera at 4:19 PM on April 2, 2013 [37 favorites]


Interesting. For a while now my attorney has strongly advised me to take diuretics and swallow helium gas before driving to the airport. I wonder if this is related.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 4:19 PM on April 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


All joking aside, I've been wondering when airlines were going to start doing this, given the race to the bottom that the modern airline industry has become.
posted by KingEdRa at 4:20 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


They should charge by atomic mass unit. Cause that shit would be Au.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:23 PM on April 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


I am OK with this. I think it's fair, given what you are actually paying for when you fly.
posted by cman at 4:24 PM on April 2, 2013


Tony Rocky Horror was unavailable for comment.
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:24 PM on April 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Finally an airline admits they are a freight company and not a service company.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:25 PM on April 2, 2013 [71 favorites]


April 1st was yesterday.
posted by Splunge at 4:27 PM on April 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pacific Islanders (Samoans, native Hawaiians etc.) have a very high incidence of type 2 diabetes, and as a result gross obesity is quite common. I think I can understand this step by the airline.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:30 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


"You know what we need?" said the executive. "The experience of flying is too comfortable. What we need is a way to make it even more awkward, insulting, and uncomfortable. Degrading somehow. What we want for our brand is for people to feel like literal cattle."
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:31 PM on April 2, 2013 [24 favorites]


In related news, cats that fly on Samoa Air aircraft will be required to be declawed, and only Apple laptops will be permitted to be turned on and used in-flight.

Also, you will be forced to eat airline food that's been left on the counter overnight.
posted by DU at 4:35 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oddly, enough the (great) punk band that Zippy linked have a great song called "My Old Man's a Fatso."
posted by jonmc at 4:36 PM on April 2, 2013


Hmm. I wonder how they calculate the ticket price? Estimate how much they make on a typical flight and divide it by the average total weight (passenger/baggage) then set prices higher or lower? Do they have a maximum weight allowed on the flights that would mean if the total human weight reached a certain point they'd close the flight regardless of empty seats?

There is math here somewhere.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:37 PM on April 2, 2013


If Wikipedia is to be believed, this is an airline whose aircraft can carry (at most) 22 passengers at once.
posted by hoyland at 4:38 PM on April 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Being a 300+ lb, 6'4" 56: chest ogre with an understanding of thermodynamics, I have to wonder if they understand that an empty airliner weights as much as 500 or so of me but can only seat about 200 of me. I suspect the market is going to teach them a painful lesson about the carnot cycle.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:41 PM on April 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm thrilled this finally happened, go Samoa Air! There is certainly a price for the seat, meaning plane, salaries, etc., but the fuel doesn't come free either. I'm wondering if they're the cheapest airline serving their hub though.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:46 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't go so far as to call the brother fat. He's got a weight problem.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 4:50 PM on April 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Airlines need to charge by weight for those rolling bags that take up all the space in the overhead compartments.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:54 PM on April 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah call me when my "fair" tix price buys me the same comfort it buys a short skinny person.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:59 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I was in Costa Rica I flew on a local airline thar weighed everyone before you got on the plane. If you plus your shit was more than 250 you had to buy another seat. If they were full you didn't fly.

It was a small plane and they recorded everyone and their luggage weight to make sure they were operating under the max weight for the aircraft. Some people were embarrassed to jump on the scare with the display people behind them could read but it most didn't mind. Frankly the plane was so small if you were really big you would not have a good time even if you were the only person on the plane.
posted by birdherder at 5:01 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


If they judged weight as being the fairest metric, shouldn't they also include baggage into the total, or is it just a tax on outliers (taller, fatter, wolverines...)?

We have similar small planes here, they have to get a rough estimate of the loaded weight of the aircraft for safety reasons, can only imagine the war that would break out if they started charging per pound though, they grow them big out here.

And Chimaera, airlines are essentially doing what you propose at the moment, the last time I flew Virgin Atlantic, I bought a 80$ upgrade which scored me the 'primo' cheap seat with lots of leg room, five years back it would have been free when they saw my height. Even better, before I went with Virgin, I priced up AA for the trip, they wanted to charge an extra $50 more for a window seat.

I can't remember the airline my friend flew on, must have been Delta, he was flying with his wife and two young (under 3) sons, during the online check in, the computer allocated them seats away from each other but for an added fee, they could sit together. Which clearly means, the airline had the seats available, but have an algorithm to say "Split families up, because then we can rinse them for a few more bucks!".

Air travel is a strange beast really, if you talk to anyone *after* a flight in coach, then they'll generally say that they'd pay a little more for better service, or more comfy seats, but next time they book on hipmunk or whatever booking site, they'll primarily go on price.
posted by Static Vagabond at 5:02 PM on April 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Air Midwest 5481 is the example of why 19 seat aircraft need to know the weight of their passengers. And quite possibly the aircraft may end up flying with empty seats at maximum takeoff weight, so that would correlate it particularly strongly to Air Samoa's costs.

Pruitt-Igoe, they're counting the baggage weight in with the ticket cost, too.
posted by ambrosen at 5:03 PM on April 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I always thought airlines could install bench seating and then charge by the inch, or cm for non-American countries.
posted by Bonzai at 5:03 PM on April 2, 2013


Also, you will be forced to eat airline food that's been left on the counter overnight.

In addition, all the flight attendants are women and all the pilots are men.
posted by MattMangels at 5:06 PM on April 2, 2013


Well, if Whole Foods can determine employee compensation by their weight, then why the hell not?
posted by kafziel at 5:06 PM on April 2, 2013


Can I get a ticket discount if I'm willing to stick my upper body out the top of the fuselage and flap my arms?
posted by indubitable at 5:10 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a bit disturbing to think that I'm old enough to recall a time when companies boosted their bottom line by improving the quality of their product or service.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:11 PM on April 2, 2013 [16 favorites]


Suckers!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:11 PM on April 2, 2013


Who knows how much their suitcase will weigh when they book their ticket? I don't know how much my suitcase weighs until I get to the airport and bite my fingernails while they see if it's under the 50 lb mark (...so I guess 49 lbs it is).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:14 PM on April 2, 2013


My new suitcase has a little built in scale thing for that, tells you if it's under 50lbs. First new luggage I've bought in... (oh my God, I'm old!) Anyway, my point was, seemed like a lot of the newer models have this feature, now.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:18 PM on April 2, 2013


Hmm. I wonder how they calculate the ticket price? Estimate how much they make on a typical flight and divide it by the average total weight (passenger/baggage) then set prices higher or lower? Do they have a maximum weight allowed on the flights that would mean if the total human weight reached a certain point they'd close the flight regardless of empty seats?

There is math here somewhere
.

Indeed.
posted by KingEdRa at 5:19 PM on April 2, 2013


Al Jaffee of Mad Magazine predicted the future of the airline industry with eerie prescience in issue #179 (1975). Unfortunately the only link I can find is to an online auction site that doesn't show full size previews without a login, but heed the wisdom of Jaffee: pay-per-use toilets are going to be a Thing.
posted by logicpunk at 5:19 PM on April 2, 2013


Eh, this actually doesn't surprise me. I think people are picturing like, a Boeing 737 New York to DC type plane, but given that we're talking about an airline that's mostly flying between a bunch of remote tropical islands each inhabited by ~20,000 people, I bet most of the planes are tiny little puddle jumpers, and in that context i can see an extra 1000 lbs. per flight or so having a substantial impact on fuel, etc.
posted by Diablevert at 5:22 PM on April 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


If they're smart they'll weight people along with their baggage, giving passengers plausible deniability: "Man, why did I have to pack all those lead bricks?".
posted by benito.strauss at 5:29 PM on April 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I agree that this isn't so much a revenue enhancement, but a safety issue. I've been on small puddle jumpers going to small islands and other remote areas.

I certainly want them to weigh everything. And on these planes someone is going to be left behind if total weight is too much, so putting a price on the weight of the people ensures that that they can leave seats empty if necessary.
posted by zeikka at 5:35 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


pay-per-use toilets are going to be a Thing.

I believe RyanAir or Easyjet actually floated this idea.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:40 PM on April 2, 2013


Airlines need to charge by weight for those rolling bags that take up all the space in the overhead compartments.

...or maybe they could persuade people not to carry everything they need on board, for example by the novel strategy of actually delivering checked luggage in a timely and reliable fashion.
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:43 PM on April 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ghostride the Whip, no need to ever confuse Ryanair and Easyjet. Ryanair's the only one with the "so viciously unpleasant we'll become a byword for cheap flights" philosophy. Easyjet merely run a pretty tight ship (& pay better) without the publicity stunts. They're both very good value.

Ryanair made up the toilet charge story, and filled papers with it for years.
posted by ambrosen at 5:53 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some Samoans present their opinions on the matter.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:03 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


pay-per-use toilets are going to be a Thing.
Ever been to Central or Eastern Europe?

They don't take any shit from anybody if you can't pay your way.
posted by DLWM at 6:13 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pacific Islanders (Samoans, native Hawaiians etc.) have a very high incidence of type 2 diabetes, and as a result gross obesity is quite common.

I think you have the causation backwards.
posted by Justinian at 6:17 PM on April 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


"You know what we need?" said the executive. "The experience of flying is too comfortable. What we need is a way to make it even more awkward, insulting, and uncomfortable. Degrading somehow. What we want for our brand is for people to feel like literal cattle."

The crazy thing is, there's been tonnes of hand-wringing about the fact that people consistently prefer the cheapest fare - "luxuries" be damned. Airlines have noticed this, and priced accordingly. So really, if we don't want to be treated like cattle we have to stop acting like cattle.
posted by smoke at 6:38 PM on April 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


The fabulously beautiful island of Samoa is now so worried about the cumulative erosion by ten million visiting tourists a year that any net imbalance between the amount you eat and the amount you excrete while on the planet is surgically removed from you body weight when you leave: so every time you go to the lavatory there it is vitally important to get a receipt.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:38 PM on April 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


pay-per-use toilets are going to be a Thing.

Ryanair: The wave of the future!
posted by Sys Rq at 6:39 PM on April 2, 2013


We got weighed all the time for the helicopter transfer offshore. Entirely a safety issue. They should totally enforce carry on restrictions as that shit is out of hand.
posted by arcticseal at 6:40 PM on April 2, 2013


So really, if we don't want to be treated like cattle we have to stop acting like cattle.

Yep. People complain about how horrible flying is these days. Not the security aspect (although that is terrible) but the actual experience of boarding and occupying an airplane. Yet the mass of people will consistently and stubbornly choose to save twenty bucks on a ticket than pay for a better experience.

People want cheap airfare and got cheap airfare. The cost of cheap airfare is shitty service.
posted by Justinian at 6:43 PM on April 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


Man, those Samoans are a surly bunch.

Dan Quayle disagrees:
"You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been, and, as far as I am concerned, happy campers you will always be."
posted by grouse at 6:47 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yet the mass of people will consistently and stubbornly choose to save twenty bucks on a ticket than pay for a better experience.

The problem with this theory is that there's no way to pay for better service for $20. The only guaranteed upgrade is to go to business or first class - on longer haul flights only - and that doesn't cost $20, it costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Sure, I can see that Delta has a higher fare than Southwest for the same flight, but that's no guarantee that I'll get more leg room, a newer plane, in-flight entertainment, or anything else.

I've often thought that travel sites and airlines could come together and create more tiers of service. Something like this:

Tier 1: You will get on a plane in your origin city and off in your destination city
Tier 2: Minimum seat pitch of 32"
Tier 3: An exit row
Tier 4: In flight entertainment available
Tier 5: Minimum seat pitch of 34", airplane built after 1995
Tier 6: Two seats where there would normally be three. Might be cheaper than buying two seats for our heftier customers
Tier 7: Wifi and power included
[...]

I'd gladly pay $20 - $50 to upgrade through these tiers, even though I'm unwilling to pay $500 to upgrade to regular business class. According to Wikipedia, seat pitch is typically 30 - 32", so the upgrade from Tier 1 to Tier 2 would only need to be a 10% increase to make it worth the airlines' effort.
posted by Hatashran at 6:56 PM on April 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


The problem with this theory is that there's no way to pay for better service for $20.

This is definitely untrue here in Australia, where twenty bucks can get you one or more of the following:

Pick your own seat
Exit row seat,
Front of row seat,
Food on the flight
Entertainment tablet of some description
Pack of blankets and other flight goodies
Priority boarding
Extra luggage

So you get something like your tiers. And most people choose not to pay for those things...
posted by smoke at 7:03 PM on April 2, 2013


Looks like I'm one of the few people on the site to have actually flown a small Samoan airline, so a few points to share about that side of the FPP: Not surprised by this, though I am very curious how my ticket prices are going to change next time I'm back ...
posted by barnacles at 7:23 PM on April 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


Start your own airline and see how much your fuel costs are.
posted by fraxil at 7:45 PM on April 2, 2013


I think they should have a premium for people who recline their seats. Payable in part to the person sitting behind them.
posted by srboisvert at 7:59 PM on April 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


If you want to fly on a fancy airline, go pay for it yourself. Virgin Atlantic isn't going anywhere.

For those of us who actually have to pay for our own flights, I seriously don't mind paying a fare that's proportional to the airline's actual costs of moving me from one city to the other.

Sure, people piss and moan about RyanAir, but I find it difficult to complain too much about a flight that costs more than the ride to the airport. Air travelers can be an entitled and spoiled bunch.
posted by schmod at 8:05 PM on April 2, 2013


I am OK with this. I think it's fair, given what you are actually paying for when you fly.

This is silly. Yes, you might account for a higher degree of fuel burn if you weigh 120kg compared to 60kg, but doubling the ticket price? Ridiculous. There's the fuel load to cart the plane itself around to consider, so a full plane of passengers at 140kg (total weight) do not double the fuel cost relative to a full plane of passengers at 70kg (total weight). And that's just fuel cost. You need the same number of pilots, cabin crew, mechanics and other support staff in both scenarios, you have the same wear on your plane, the same airport fees at either end... And a passenger takes up a seat either way (excepting very large individuals, who are forced to buy two tickets or fly business/first class at present anyway, so are more than paying their way) so you couldn't put twice as many 70kg payload passengers in your aircraft as 140kg passengers. Utterly out of proportion. That it plays into a bunch of problematic societal attitudes vis-a-vis fat people is just bitter icing on the turgid cake.

Put it this way, a Boeing 747-400 laid out two-class has a capacity of 524 passengers. Let's assume a slightly large, easy and round average payload weight (i.e. personal weight + baggage of no more than 20kg, as is standard) of 100kg. That's 52,400kg. The dry weight of a Boeing 747-400 is 178,800kg. That means the total passenger payload is less than 30% on top of the dry weight of the plane, assuming the plane has every last seat filled, and that the average payload weight for a passenger is indeed 100kg. Yes, they'll need to carry fuel for that passenger payload too, which means more weight, which means more fuel, etc. but the same is also true of the mass of the plane itself, so those costs will only be 30% on top of what it would cost to fly the plane empty of passengers or cargo. And again, you're paying the pilots, mechanics, airport fees, etc. whether you've got one featherweight passenger on board, or 524 heavyset individuals with lots of luggage.
posted by Dysk at 11:04 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a bit disturbing to think that I'm old enough to recall a time when companies boosted their bottom line by improving the quality of their product or service.

they competed on quality because they had a government mandated monopoly.
posted by cupcake1337 at 11:29 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mars Saxman, I think people carry rather than check luggage because they're charged for checked luggage, but carryon is free. At least in the U.S. It's like the airlines are encouraging passengers to make boarding and leaving planes even slower and more uncomfortable.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 12:18 AM on April 3, 2013


Hatashran: "Might be cheaper than buying two seats for our heftier customers"
A few years ago my wife, who is quite overweight, was going to fly from Europe to the US. We inquired with the airline whether we should buy two seats for her, and got the answer that while they recommended buying two seats, they couldn't guarantee that the seat would be left empty. In other words, they basically admitted that if we bought two seats for one passenger, they'd just turn around and sell that seat to another customer as well. (See also: over-booking.)
posted by brokkr at 1:40 AM on April 3, 2013


they competed on quality because they had a government mandated monopoly

Uh, a monopoly is when you have no competition, right?
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:13 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Everyone loves to complain about the low-cost airlines like Ryanair but when it comes down to actually paying for it most customers just don't care and would rather spend the money on extravagance on arrival - rather than the trip itself. I almost always fly budget, and if the flight is less than say 4 hours, who really cares if its a bit uncomfortable. I get a cheap trip to Rome say - that would have been exorbitant 20 years ago.

There are loads of more expensive airlines in Europe - there's almost always a BA flight to the same destination as Easyjet for twice or 3 times the price where they will smile more. I"d rather stick with the frowns.

And Ryanair vs Easyjet? the only significant difference I've noticed is that the Easyjet website is a bit prettier.

and Dysk - the article doesn't say that they are charging as a linear multiple of the passengers weight - they just say that the tickets will be more expensive for heavier customers. Presumably they would work out a relatively 'fair'system say
Ticket price = Base Cost + X% of total weight

Personally it seems pretty fair to me - but i'm relatively slim - so I don't care if "fatties" have to pay more.
posted by mary8nne at 2:27 AM on April 3, 2013


mary8nne: "And Ryanair vs Easyjet? the only significant difference I've noticed is that the Easyjet website is a bit prettier."
Another difference is that EasyJet doesn't try to deceive the passengers about what destination they're flying to.
posted by brokkr at 3:13 AM on April 3, 2013


they competed on quality because they had a government mandated monopoly.

Regulation ≠ government mandated monopoly.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:43 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is silly. Yes, you might account for a higher degree of fuel burn if you weigh 120kg compared to 60kg, but doubling the ticket price? Ridiculous...Put it this way, a Boeing 747-400 laid out two-class has a capacity of 524 passengers. ...the total passenger payload is less than 30% on top of the dry weight of the plane

Yeah, but we're not talking about anything like a Boeing 747. We're talking about a Twin Otter, as barnacles pointed out. Here are the specs for one of those. I'm no pilot, but it seems that it seats max 19 passengers and that, for the plane to have a range of 400 nautical miles, the combined weight of passengers and cargo has to be less than 3250 lbs (1474 kg). That's 177 lbs (80 kg) per person, including their luggage, not including the weight of the pilot and crew. Average weight of an adult Samoan is 174 lbs (78.71 kg) according to a study published by the WHO.
posted by Diablevert at 5:53 AM on April 3, 2013


I'm kind of torn here.

On the one hand, I have flown on commercial planes the size of the Samoan Air planes (Cape Air, which flies 10-seat Cesnas that are more like station wagons with wings than they are commercial airliners, and are so small that one passenger gets to ride shotgun), and I have seen the heroic lengths they had to go to when my 6'5", 250-pound self was flying on a plane full of 5'2" people half my weight. They had some obvious logistical difficulties balancing the mass on the flight, which ended with them loading all the luggage into the cargo bay on the other side of the plane as me. I can 100% understand why they should be able to charge me for the sheer pain-in-the-ass factor, even if we disregard fuel economy.

On the other hand, I work with the world's most irritating dilettante libertarian, who's been smugly proclaiming how great an idea this is to every overweight person he's talked to in the office this week. So now when I picture the cloud of smug privilege that this is going to cause to settle in over the internet, it makes me want to suggest that I stop subsidizing roads built to other people's houses, fire departments in towns that aren't mine, and health insurance of everyone older than me, because you just said we should all be paying our own way, asshole, and here's how that works.
posted by Mayor West at 5:56 AM on April 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Roads and Health Insurance are very different to such discretionary spending as holidays to Hawaii Mayor West. Airlines are businesses - if you want to live in a Capitalist State then you have to allow such price discrimination for private sector goods.... or you could nationalize all the airlines and treat them as Public Goods like roads..?
posted by mary8nne at 7:20 AM on April 3, 2013


If they use total weight, including baggage, this seems to make sense but I wonder how much it really makes a difference. As a light weight person I'm not likely to get upset about this but I can understand this ruffling some feathers.

I wonder which flight booking tool will be the first to take your weight into account to find you the best rate.
posted by dgran at 8:09 AM on April 3, 2013


"On the other hand, I work with the world's most irritating dilettante libertarian, who's been smugly proclaiming how great an idea this is to every overweight person he's talked to in the office this week. "

Just punch him in the nose and make fun of him if he doesn't want to resolve it privately.
posted by klangklangston at 9:35 AM on April 3, 2013


... so I don't care if "fatties" have to pay more.

"Fatties"?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:35 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


[So much easier to have this conversation if people don't turn it into insta-snark about overweight people. make an effort? Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:09 PM on April 3, 2013


I work with the world's most irritating dilettante libertarian

Ooh, the world was a thrilling place for the twenty seconds where I thought that said "librarian".
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 5:26 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


FWIW, I've used my minimal aeronautical engineering skills to estimate that an object on a jumbo jet will burn its own weight in fuel roughly every 20,000 miles. And from what I understand, it is a fairly linear relationship, that extra pound really does result in increased fuel consumption.

So, a 50-pound object on a 2,000 mile flight will cause the plane to burn roughly five extra pounds of fuel. That's not quite a gallon, and while aviation fuel is probably more expensive than gasoline, that's still just a few dollars in fuel between a skinny passenger and a hefty one. Seems barely worth the effort to try to account for for anything less than maybe transpacific flights.
posted by Hatashran at 7:59 PM on April 3, 2013


So, a 50-pound object on a 2,000 mile flight will cause the plane to burn roughly five extra pounds of fuel. That's not quite a gallon, and while aviation fuel is probably more expensive than gasoline, that's still just a few dollars in fuel between a skinny passenger and a hefty one. Seems barely worth the effort to try to account for for anything less than maybe transpacific flights.

Air Samoa has ridiculously small planes, which is the issue, not the cost of fuel. IIRC the largest can carry 9 passengers. At that size, a larger than average adult or people with heavier than usual luggage means not transporting another person (i.e. not selling another ticket) or some luggage. From what barnacles said earlier, it sounds like it's like Greyhound, where you're buying a ticket for transport on a given route, but the time is not actually guaranteed (you have to read Greyhound's fine print to realise this, by the way).
posted by hoyland at 8:17 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't recall whether it actually was acted upon or not, but a friend who worked at Ansett - a carrier in Australia which went bankrupt in 2001 - told me they'd calculated there would an appreciable reduction in the annual fuel cost if pilots stopped wearing hats.

Every gram matters.
posted by puffmoike at 1:07 PM on April 4, 2013


It's appreciable because it is controllable: the decision to wear a cap or not will not change who the pilots are or how many choose to fly and how often, and the airline can mandate and enforce 100% compliance with minimal cost.

Passengers are less controllable, and will change their behavior in response to such rules, so tiny adjustments like this will get lost in the noise.

On the other hand, the fact that they went bankrupt does not inspire confidence in their economotechnical analysis skills.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:18 AM on April 5, 2013


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