Should “Human Cargo” Simply Pay Per Pound?
After the Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines slap, lots of people have been scratching their heads and wondering just what is truly fair. After all, if every person pays the same amount to fly on Southwest Airlines then doesn’t that mean, because of the high cost of jet fuel, that the skinny people traveling with less luggage are in fact subsidizing the heavier people with more luggage? Of course it does to some degree, although one could argue that much of, if not most of the cost of travel stems from simply getting the aircraft from A to B including the cost of infrastructure, maintenance, purchasing of the airplane, supporting of the salaries and staff, and that only a small portion of the overall “costs” for travel really stem from the per pound calculation of jet fuel. So perhaps there is a certain baseline charge to travel that every person must bear and then any number of pounds over and above this must be paid on a per pound basis? For example, let’s say Southwest Airlines calculated the overall amount that it must pay to support aircraft, personnel, salaries, jet maintenance, runway fees, etc and established that the first 150 pounds of traveler plus luggage cost a base fare and anything above that is charged on a per pound basis to account for the additional jet fuel and additional wear on the aircraft. Something like that might take into account all of the economics of the matter and it might simply be left to decide what is the “baseline fee” per person to travel on Southwest Airlines and what is the baseline weight that fee would include. Is it 100 pounds, 200 pounds, perhaps it is 250 pounds. Interestingly, for shipping air cargo has in effect a similar mechanism where packages, regardless of weight, now cost a flat rate to ship, but larger objects, heavier objects and other types of objects that don’t fall into the standard business envelope or air cargo envelope are in fact charged on a per pound or per ounce basis.
But what of the actual size limitations posed by the seats and the inconvenience factor that many non-obese passengers experience. After Kevin Smith’s many Tweets and YouTube posts, a lot of people have commented they do not appreciated having to sit next to an obese person who in fact takes up more physical space and crowds them in their own seat, in effect making their journey less comfortable. What is the solution for this problem? Is there is a “size” limit beyond which a person must buy two seats? Should some seats be made larger and be a requirement for people over a certain size?