Hawaiian Airlines has come under fire for forcing overweight passengers to get weighed at check-in before assigning them seats. People flying to or from Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, can no longer pick their seats online and heavier passengers need to get weighed before boarding so the airline can assign seats and “redistribute weight in its cabins to meet the manufacturer’s guidelines.”
The new policy was apparently set in response to an increase in average passenger weight, but American Samoan businessman David Haleck is calling it discriminatory. He told Radio New Zealand that he has filed a complaint with the U.S. Transportation Department because if it really was a safety issue, have people been “flying unsafe for all these years?”
In Hawaiian Airlines’ defense, people from American Samoa have the highest rate of obesity in the world with an estimated 74.6% of adults classified as obese. But that is it really a safety issue? A spokesperson from Hawaiian Airlines told the The Telegraph that weigh-ins at check-in was part of a six-month survey that has ended:
“This action resulted from the recognition that over time our fuel burn on Pago Pago flights was consistently much higher than projected, indicating that our weight assumption were inaccurate . . . we review weights on any flight within our route network that demonstrates such a discrepancy.”
Basically the fatter you are, the more fuel an airplane has to burn to carry you.
“The survey results confirmed that our aircraft cabin weight was heavier than projected . . . the decision to assign seats at the airport was made because that is the most efficient way to manage weight distribution. This allows us to make sure that families with children are seated together . . . and it minimizes the confusion created by changing pre-selected seats.”
Making fat people spread their weight around somehow has the advantage of letting kids seat with their parents.
Hawaiian Airlines isn’t the first carrier to target the obese: Samoa Air made headlines back in 2013 when it became the first airline in the world to charge passengers based on their weight. The domestic carrier charges one Samoan tãlã (around $0.40) for every kilo you (and your luggage) weigh.
What do you think?