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Flying? Pay your weigh

Published June 8, 2013 1:01 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I recently returned to Salt Lake City from California on a Southwest flight. As we settled into our seats, a jovial, obese young woman eeeeased into the aisle seat, squeezing her corpulence upward and outward to overflow into my companion's middle seat, causing my companion to raise the seat arm between us so she could slide over the very hard metal partition between us and partway into my window seat.

The arm of the "lady of size" (in English that would be fat woman) completely enveloped the arm rest, and as she slipped into a blissful sleep on takeoff, her body seemed to settle more fully our way, like an overstuffed cream puff. Get the picture?

More recently, I read the editorial by the Chicago Tribune that appeared April 9 in The Salt Lake Tribune, which described eloquently how it might be possible to charge passengers for the combined weight of themselves and their luggage, as Samoa Air does now. The author suggested that even major airlines, whose biggest expense is fuel, could save money by doing so.

How about if every passenger were asked, "Ma'am, please just step up on the scale with your carry-on to see if you're eligible for a rebate on the next flight you book with us. We already have your checked bag weight logged in."

Or, more bluntly, "Ma'am we're weighing all our passengers in order to cut fuel costs." And be gutsy enough to add a small amount to the ticket price for overweight passengers.

What a gamble! But I'll bet the bulk of passengers (if you will) would welcome it, were an airline, large or small, to advertise such a feature.

Let's face it. Americans will not lose weight, or better, keep it off in the first place, unless they lose money for being overweight, or make money for having normal weight — the old free market principle. And we know from the "add-on" fees we all pay to fly, the airlines are absolutely looking to save money, by pinching pennies if not waistlines.

Consider it the next time you feel more squished than the tuna in your $5 in-flight sandwich.

Tom Metcalf is a retired pediatrician and community activist living in Murray.






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