Pay to Fly Based on Your Weight

Sometimes I get the feeling Chris is toying with me.

Obviously all of us that train with OPP’s fitness don expect (and appreciate) the manner in which he arranges our workout schedules, plans our sessions and even maps goals for our individual physical livelihoods day in and day out. It’s no secret that someone is making the decisions to have group fitness rounds last 20 seconds or two minutes, and what’s being included in them. Indeed, I have very little trouble imagining some deep, locked off portion in Chris’ home basement featuring a wall of photos (dedicated to each of us) detailing our fitness lives and his individualized master plan to rebuild us all. For the record I also imagine red string tying much of it together, along with words and phrases made from cut-out magazine clippings and similar psychotic business. His intense dedication to fitness cannot be denied. But even beyond that, I just know he’s messing with me.

Extra Motivation for Weight Loss?

You see OPP’s fearless leader is well aware of my almost congenital inability to remain neutral on any hot-button subject. So when he purports to “casually float a news story about an airline charging its passengers based on weight” and then asks if I have an opinion on it he knows full bloody well that he’s twisting my tail in hopes that I’ll yelp. Alas, as I truly am incapable of shutting up I will indeed be forced to yelp – but probably not in the direction he might otherwise have hoped.

At first glance, most trainers would probably like the idea of airlines charging their passengers by the pound. Talk about a built-in incentive to slim down for your Caribbean vacation, even though any money a slimmer you might save on airfare would probably get eaten up at said gym anyway. Now, to be fair the airline in question (Samoa Air, whose name alone ought to indicate a certain propensity for hosting rather above-average weight fliers) might have a valid point for their decision.

They seem to fly mainly small planes that are so weight dependant that having two or three heavy passengers would mean the other seats can’t actually be filled without risking a plane crash. They have to run a business after all. The rub to all this comes when the ever-helpful media hordes engage in a little speculative extrapolation by suggesting that such an endeavour could potentially be applied to regular airlines. While this dove tails nicely with many social engineers’ beliefs that adult humans not capable of squeezing into Justin Bieber jeggings are technically obese and therefore social pariahs, future drains on healthcare and in most cases better off dead is about as wrong-headed as something can be. Do you think I have an opinion on the issue?

Weight Loss Any ‘Weigh’ Possible

Look, the idea that airline travel – already about as debased as it can get – could somehow get worse is mind-blowing. Imagine having to starve yourself for a week before a trip just so you can meet weigh in. Perhaps like supermodels you too can learn to “feel full” by eating tissues. Yes, tissues. How about having to wear a sheer muumuu so you don’t end up paying extra on the scale for having heavy clothes? Who needs body scanners then? They can see it all when you bend over. Also, I can see a huge business in binge eating at the airport gate. Once through security, the by-now delirious with hunger passengers will gorge themselves on five or six pounds of poutine and several litres of beer, putting the airport skyway in constant danger of collapse. Honestly, charging folks by weight? How much more personally intrusive can the outside world get?

Legislating Weight LossWeight Loss: Personal or Societal Concern?

Look, for my money Samoa airlines can do whatever the heck they want. And those willing to fly with them are stuck dealing with it. But for me I just gotta think there’s a better way to treat people. Am I alone in thinking folks ought to have a right to make their own, sometimes bad, decisions? And I gotta say, I’m especially surprised that any fitness coach would ever embrace a pay-by-the-pound airfare plan like this. Every trainer I’ve ever talked to absolutely abhors a person’s weight ever being used as any meaningful measure of fitness success – especially considering how people can vary so much in size, body shape and style.

Anyway, I make bad decisions all the time – and I’m more than willing to suffer the effects of such freedom. But when the powers that be continue in their quest to “protect me” or “help me make better life decisions” by poaching more and more of my decision-making ability I start to get pretty freakin’ squirrely. So squirrely, in fact, that living alone in a cabin in the woods starts to look less and less weird all the time. Darn it Chris! You knew this would happen when you brought this up, didn’t you? Now I’m gonna need an extra G2 just to cool down. A purple one, please.

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4 Responses to Pay to Fly Based on Your Weight

  1. Jennifer says:

    I totally disagree with whoever wrote this article. For one your taking it way too far – “legislating weight loss” or “the powers that be poaching my decision making ability.” Come on. And people starving themselves before flights to get a cheaper ticket? Get real.

    Although I initially supported charging passengers by weight, I’ve come to realize that my problem is actually with the size of the passenger. Although I’m sure 90% of size issues are related to being overweight.

    If you saw my comment on the OPP Facebook page regarding this issue you might have an idea where I’m coming from. Some people are so grossly overweight that it has become a major health problem. Fine, I’m all for personal choice (although I’m not done on that topic!) but when that persons size begins to infringe on my personal space, I DO have a problem. Just as I do when a smoker is blowing toxic fumes in my face. Why should I have to be uncomfortable because of someone else’s “personal choice” AKA lack of personal responsibility? Have you ever had to sit next to someone on a twelve hour flight who spills over and under the arm rest between you? Or try sitting in front of a person of this size and you can’t recline your seat the whole flight (the three measly inches) because that person would not have enough space between their enormous gut and the back of the seat to flip down their tray. This grossly overweight person should be purchasing two economy seats, forced to purchase a seat in business class where there is more room allocated per person, or put in special “medical assistance” seating. Because really, it is a pretty severe medical problem.

    I’m 5’9″ and currently 145 lbs so this isn’t coming from some petite waif that wants a discount on air travel. While weighing in at check-in may be extreme, I would definitely support airline policies to have restrictions on size of person in economy seating.

    And YES this is a societal concern!! Obesity is the #1 health problem in the western world. Suffering aside, in Canada obese people have to be a huge drain to our health care system and MY tax dollars. Just as we tax cigarettes and alcohol, I totally support taxing the hell out of sugary drinks and other junk food. Its simple economics.

    • Chris says:

      Hi Jen! I like your style. You make some great points. We’ll have to get Jarrod to reply to your comments.

      But just to play the devil’s advocate on this what about the situation where a heavily muscled individual travels by plane? If we weigh everyone then strong, healthy individuals with a high level level of muscle mass would pay more than a sedentary individual that has less muscle and more fat mass. Do we then encourage people to lose muscle mass in order to pay less?

      I’m not saying this would happen but it is interesting to think about the consequences this could have on large healthy and unhealthy individuals. If there is a scale to weigh your baggage and ensure your carry-over fits a certain space perhaps there should be a consideration given to ensure everyone can safely and comfortably fit in the seats?

      Thanks for ‘weighing’ in,


      • Jarrod says:

        Hey Jennifer —

        If, as you say, our weight or general fitness has become a societal concern then “society” (aka government) will absolutely get the right (and have the responsibility) to nose its way into many of the decisions most of us make for ourselves. That’s how laws work. The argument is made every day that due to our shared benefit of universal health care the bad health choices of others are effectively costing everyone else money. Is it really such a stretch to imagine rules being implemented to, at first, “guide” or “direct” folks to making better choices and then to eventually “force” any cranks or holdouts into compliance? Where does personal freedom end when the group’s overall interests begin? That line is shifting all the time, and rarely in the direction of personal freedom.

        Sure it sucks having to live with the bad choices of others (see onion breath sitting on the bus next to you….ewwww!) but the more OPC (other people’s crap) we can endure means the more personal freedom we ultimately get to enjoy for ourselves. Besides, making rules for others to follow always sounds great when the rules only specify what we already do ourselves. It’s way less fun when the rules are different than how we live our lives. Suddenly such rules seem punitive and draconian. Funny how that is. At least that’s how I see it……wonder what tomorrow will bring?

  2. Jennifer says:

    Well as I said… I’m not as hung up on weight as I am size and how the width of a person will affect the comfort of people around them. If you’re a huge person because of fat OR muscle – so large that you intrude into the space of people around you – then yes, you should be required to purchase two seats, sit in business class, or moved to some other special seating. But you’d have to be pretty massive for this to happen because my husband is quite broad across the chest and he’s able to maintain a healthy distance from the person next to him. And for those whining about this – that’s life! I think we’re a little TOO sensitive to people’s “feelings” sometimes and it gets in the way of making rational practical decisions.

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