Tuesday, April 9, 2013
APRIL 9 SAMOA AIR CHARGES PASSENGERS BY WEIGHT
This week's news item that you might have missed comes to us from far-off Polynesia. Samoa, to be exact...an island chain found halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. While the islands may be remote, they still cannot hide from the Global Economic Crisis. Specifically, skyrocketing jet fuel costs threatened to bankrupt tiny Samoa Air. Just how small is Samoa Air? Their total fleet consists of a mere five planes. They serve ten destinations in Samoa, American Samoa, North Tonga and the Cook Islands. In summary, Samoa Air is one of the smallest airlines on earth.
However, an announcement last week by Samoa Air CEO Chris Langton instantly catapulted the isolated company into an international sensation. How? By being the first airline ever to base all fares on an individual's weight. Confused? Here's how it works: When you arrive for your flight at Apia International Airport, things start off normal. First, you present your passport to authorities. Next, you head to the check-in counter to process the ticket, check in your luggage, etc. Then, things get different. You must climb onto a giant scale. Afterward, your fare is calculated using a simple multiplication. Next, you swipe the credit card and pay for the adjusted fare. Finally, you go through security and proceed to the gate.
Naturally, people worldwide don't "get it" and are understandably angry over Samoa Air and their new policy. A blogger in the UK called it "derogatory to humans." Similarly, a column Dallas Morning News referred to weight-based pricing as "insulting to large people everywhere." For the time being, citizens of Samoa are approaching the fares with mixed emotions. "It is inevitable" said Apia resident Mitieli Lacalevu. "Samoans understand that everything comes down to net profit." Samoans also understand they live in the fourth most obese nation on earth...with a staggering 86% of the population being overweight. Simple math will tell you: Weight-Based Pricing was the only way possible for the airline to stay in business.