Samoa Air Will Now Charge Passengers By The Kilogram

Samoa Air announced yesterday that it will start charging passengers, baggage and all, by the kilogram. Check the date, and you’ll understand why this battle-weary traveler didn’t report the story then. Here’s the enthusiastic burbling currently posted on their website:

“We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair, by charging our passengers only for what they weigh. You are the master of your Air’fair’, you decide how much (or little) your ticket will cost. No more exorbitant excess baggage fees, or being charged for baggage you may not carry. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple.”

Well, heck, I’ve advocated that policy for years. And why wouldn’t I? I’m a tiny person who can’t lift all that much and who has therefore often traveled the world with a laptop bag and/or a bookbag. Not a backpack. An entire backpack is for poseurs, right?

I also like the idea that, even if a person is heavy and wants to keep their weight a secret, if you’re weighing the person along with their bags, then they can blame the total number on overpacking a bag instead of being overweight.

Chief Executive Chris Langton explained another benefit to Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat, saying that families in particular will save a boatload. He said that even though each child has to have its own seat, the family isn’t charged for the seat. They’re charged for what the child and his or her bags actually weigh. So, for a family of four, the potential savings can be hefty.

The flipside of the policy is, of course, that persons of size will pay more — considerably more in some cases.

Now I wouldn’t worry about the policy coming to a legacy airline near you. The truth is that Samoa Air runs some tiny island-hoppers where weight can be a serious issue. When you buy your ticket, you’re supposed to include an estimate of the weight. Oh, you’ll still be weighed in at the airport, but at least they’ll get the general idea of how full they can stuff the plane.

And that could be a meaningful safety feature in a nation where the World Health Organization rated over 85 percent of the adult population as being overweight.

There was surprisingly little outrage over the change in policy, with many people shrugging it off.

I think weigh-ins aren’t too uncommon for helicopters and very small planes. What do you think of the new Samoa Air policy?

[small aircraft in Samoa photo courtesy fearlessRich via Wikipedia Commons]