Plump Passengers – Is a "Fat Tax" Fair?

by  Andrew Hickey | Apr 30, 2009
Plane in the sky
Plane in the sky / undefinedundefined/iStock

Should passengers get penalized if they are considered obese by a particular airline? United Airlines certainly thinks so, announcing recently that they will soon be charging chubby travelers for two seats if they can not comfortably fit into one. Opponents to this new rule feel that the airlines should instead update their seats, which have remained the same size since the 1960s, in order to accommodate the larger frames of today’s average American body. After all, there’s no doubt that the United States is suffering from a massive obesity issue. But with things as they are, should “smaller” travelers have to suffer because the person seated next to them is taking up too much space? Commence the great weight debate!

This overweight issue is not just making headlines stateside. Across the pond, Europe’s low-cost airline RyanAir has been making news with its rumored “fat tax,” which would be added onto the final price of an airline ticket if the company deems the individual overweight.

In both instances, it seems that the airlines are actually receiving positive feedback for a change when it comes to applying a fee towards fat flyers – both United and Ryanair released data stating that they’ve receive hundred of complaints by travelers who were inconvenienced by an overweight neighbor and that many passengers were for the new fees.

What do you think? Should airlines charge passengers that are overweight and can not fit into one seat? Or should the airlines update their seats to fit today’s “huskier” passengers? Maybe airlines should just charge people what they weigh for an airline ticket. That could be one way to solve this issue – and perhaps put a cure for the obesity epidemic on the fast track.

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