How appropriate that a Samoan airline should introduce the idea of charging passengers by the kilo. Not only are the Samoans naturally huge people, but they’re also the second fattest in the world. 91% of Samoans are overweight, outdone only by their neighbours, Nauru, at 94.5%, helping the Pacific islanders to secure the top seven slots in world obesity rankings. Of course, as usual, the explanation for this isn’t simple. They have a terrible diet, heavily influenced by rubbish like tinned spam and tinned corned beef, and these days they lead a sedentary life. Not too long ago, they fished and cultivated fruit and vegetables, but thanks to the encroachment of US mining companies they now eat junk with huge amounts of sugar and fat in it, and they get much less exercise.
Heavy passengers are a problem for a small airline, and Samoa Air have introduced what seems to me to be an admirably fair system to deal with it. They treat the passenger and the baggage as a single unit of weight. Unlike the Ryanair excess charges ambush, you only pay for what you weigh, including your luggage. How many times have you seen some tiny little seven-stone girl being charged a fortune for an extra few pounds in a suitcase, while some heaving, sweating pile of humanity with 400 pounds of scrambled-egg arse the size of two airline seats wobbles onto the plane unchallenged? It’s just not right.
I think Ryanair would make a great job of this idea, and in the process, they’d be encouraging us all to lose a few pounds. All they’d need to do is rearrange their charging structure into bands:
Emaciated– Stick insect — Normal — Tubby — Fat Bastard — Lardass.
As long as you and your luggage stay below whatever level is appropriate, that’s the range of money you pay. So if you happen to be the little seven-stone girl with the huge suitcase full of clothes (who ever heard of anything like that?) you could opt to join the Fat Bastard band and still pay less than the hyperventilating pile of jelly taking up two of the seats beside you.
The other advantage would be the elimination of some Ryanair Nazi ground staff who take sadistic pleasure out of intimidating harmless passengers. A few years ago, I passed through Stansted on the way to a short holiday and found myself in a group of people being screamed at by an utter bitch in a Ryanair uniform. I felt sorry for the civilised Italian woman ahead of us who didn’t understand why an undereducated thug in a cheap uniform was screaming and gesticulating at the slim portfolio of drawings she carried under her arm.
It’s a win-win as they say, apart from the people who happen to be six-foot-five and 250 pounds, lean, fit and not in the least bit fat. To them, I say, It’s not about blame. It’s about weight. I feel your pain, but you can’t have everything.
For everyone else, lose a few, pounds, save a few pounds, and no more ground-staff with guard dogs.
As far as the airline is concerned, it’s all about the bottom line.