double ticket for double weight

A leading Australian nutritionist has urged airlines to charge obese passengers more for their seats.

Fat people can be embarrassing for their neighbours on planes. Passengers, although using common transport, need privacy. So sitting next to a very fat passenger gives the impression of being surrounded by a towering body which can even eclipse free view.

In the USA, the CNN reported some years ago the case of two fat black women companions who had complained about being obliged to pay double ticket each. They asked to pay for three tickets instead of four but this was refused. The airliner carrying them said that policy wasn’t enforced in internal flights but just on international ones.

As airliners have lenient policies towards the handicapped, it should have the same policy towards fat people as long as this doesn’t pose a problem to the passengers or affect the weight limits an aircraft has in transporting goods and people. There are some scientific researches showing that obesity can be genetic. So such fat people shouldn’t have double punishment: living with the medical consequences of their obesity and paying double for flights. After all, none of us choose to have an unpopular and unhealthy shape.

As a compromise, I suggest that airliners should “penalise” fat people through their luggage. If a fat person weighing, say, 120 kilogram and the normal weight should be 80 kilogram, they should carry only light luggage with them or they should pay double for the 40 kilograms of luggage weight if they have a heavy one instead of paying a double ticket. I know this sounds illogical.

But forcing people to pay double ticket to reduce weight won’t have the desired effect. There can be many fat people who rarely take a plane. Others used to taking first class will circumvent this penalty by taking second class. They can’t have the same comfort but at least they won’t feel they have paid double. So this decision to double the fee can be just symbolic. Its effect or popularity should be measured if it is implemented in other means of common transport like buses and trains, underground metros. Perhaps the most strident measure can be if fat people are given an ultimatum to reduce weight or they will lose their jobs or if recruitment for a job is based on weight.


  1. taamarbuuta said,

    November 13, 2007 at 1:28 am

    I totally disagree on this one! While I do recognize that obesity can be genetic, frankly, people the size of that woman in the photo just didn’t exist 100 years ago! The average size of an American, for example, has increased three or four sizes in the past 30 years. 1960’s size 12 is 2007’s size 6!

    So while forcing passengers to pay a double ticket may not have any effect on passengers’ weight, I don’t think they should get a free seat – I had to pay for two tickets when I took my cat (because her box didn’t fit under my seat) – so they should have to pay for a second seat for their behinds.

  2. Abdelilah Boukili said,

    November 13, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Hi taamarbuuta,
    In fact I was dealing with the topic in a light way. The problem of obesity should be dealt with from childhood. Children should be fed from the star on healthy food and exercises. Many adults inherit their obesity from eating habits in young age.
    I hope you’re enjoying your stay in Morocco, especially in Meknes. But don’t indulge in some Moroccan cuisine like lamb tagine. You know it’s dangerously rich in fat for those addicted to it. Bonne appetit!

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