Bioethicist and philosopher Peter Singer was in an airport when he noticed that a slender lady with an overweight suitcase has to pay, whereas a fat man with a regular suitcase didn't have to pay anything.
With their luggages, their total weight on the plane would be about the same, but why is the woman penalized?
Tony Webber, a former chief economist for the Australian airline Qantas, has pointed out that, since 2000, the average weight of adult passengers on its planes has increased by two kilos. For a large, modern aircraft like the Airbus A380, that means that an extra $472 of fuel has to be burned on a flight from Sydney to London. If the airline flies that route in both directions three times a day, over a year it will spend an additional $1 million for fuel, or, on current margins, about 13% of the airline’s profit from operating that route.
Webber suggests that airlines set a standard passenger weight, say, 75 kilos. If a passenger weighs 100 kilos, a surcharge would be charged to cover the extra fuel costs. For a passenger who is 25 kilos overweight, the surcharge on a Sydney-London return ticket would be $29. A passenger weighing just 50 kilos would get a discount of the same amount.
So, what do you think? Should airplanes charge you by the pound?