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Academic: Obese Flyers Should Pay More To Travel

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File photo of a passenger plane on a runway. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

File photo of a passenger plane on a runway. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CBS Charlotte) – A scholar has garnered international attention for his assertion that airlines should institute a “pay as you weigh” pricing policy that forces obese passengers to pay more to fly.

The concept of tailoring payment scales to the numbers registered on weight scales is nothing new – last year, a Charlotte-based doctor got similar attention after asserting that insurance premiums should be adjusted based on the health and heft of clients.

“I think we all know people who say ‘We’re gonna die anyway, why not eat what I want?’” Dr. John Cleek said to CBS Charlotte on the matter. “Why should the rest of … the insured population pay for their choices?”

But the theory of Bharat Bhatta of Norway deals with travel costs – specifically, the additional strain placed on planes and fuel reserves by transporting heavier passengers.

“I think the simplest way to implement this would be for passengers to declare their weight when buying a plane ticket,” the Sogn og Fjordane University College scholar told the Daily Telegraph. “At the airport, airlines could randomly select passengers and if they lied about their weight they would have to pay the fat fare and a penalty.”

Though airlines have implemented other policies to handle the ever-increasing amount of obese clients – including expanded seat belts and allowing for the purchase of two seats for a single person – most of them have served to more easily accommodate those persons, rather than penalizing them.

Bhatta’s suggestions – which included other payment and flight options for different weight classes – were published in the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management.

“Charging according to weight and space is a universally accepted principle, not only in transportation, but also in other services,” he was quoted as saying in a press release posted on the journal’s website. “As weight and space are far more important in aviation than other modes of transport, airlines should take this into account when pricing their tickets.”

The study is described by the journal as the first of its kind.

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