Samoa Air tips scales with pay-by-weight system


Samoa’s one-year-old airline, Samoa Air, has created world headlines with its pay-by-weight ticket pricing policy. The airline says the system is the “fairest way” to charge travellers.<!--more-->

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The airline’s website calculates the fares based on distance travelled and the personal weight of the passenger and their baggage. At check in, the actual weight of the passenger is verified to match that given while booking online. Any excess must be paid before boarding.

Chris Langton, the airline’s Chief Executive told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat that the advantages for passengers were obvious in that there were no more baggage fees, no more paying for half the overweight passenger in the seat next to yours and that families with small children would benefit the most.

“Aeroplanes don’t run on seats, they run on weight,” Mr Langton said. The airline, which flies small planes on its domestic routes, is competing in an industry with thin profit margins, where rising fuel costs make weight savings vital. Weight variations are an important consideration especially for small aircraft.

With its system, Samoa Air will not lose money if a group of especially heavy fliers takes the same flight, and skinny fliers won’t have to subsidise the cost of flying their heavier neighbours from island to island.

It will be interesting to observe how the plan works out, especially in a country and region where obesity and excess weight have reached worrisome proportions according to WHO data.