Silly season finale, a fat tax on pax
If Plane Talking was into awards, ex Qantas chief economist Tony Webber would be a worthy contender for best silly season story for 2011-2012.
He scored good media coverage for this story arguing that passengers need to pay for their excess weight as well as excess baggage.
Let’s think. You are buying a fare online, as most of us do, but the fine print says that the price, say $200, is subject to an extra $3 per kg over 85 kg for that particular flight stage length, using the national average male adult weight naked as the zero change reference point.
So you go to the bathroom scales, oops, 105 kg, that’s an additional $60, all prices GST inclusive except for international sectors.
Then at check-in, as you stand on the weigh-in pad, contemplating shedding items of clothing and your shoes and placing them outside the area of the scales similar to the ones that used to be in the floor at the check-in counters at Australian airports up until the 60s (or thereabouts), you discover that according to the airline scales you weigh 3.5 kg more which is $10.50 plus the $7.70 credit card fee that certain airlines pull out of thin air to screw you further.
Fantastic. It only takes a few dozen people in a similar situation at any time to destroy the functionality of an airport, and further wreck the efforts airlines make for on time departures and prompt turnarounds.
Of course if you are a family, and the kids, who are normally charged adult fares, are each 20 kgs less than the national average for adults of either sex, and the parents are pretty fit, and are each at or below the national average, the result could be a notional refund of say $130-$150.
At this point the entire terminal will come to a halt to watch the modern day consumer miracle of an airline actually making an immediate refund of anything.
Webber would well know, the concept of airlines giving back money before the longevity tables estimate the customer will have died is not a part of the business plan of any carrier on the planet.
It would be like getting a bank to admit to overcharging, or a power company to truthfully refund self generated solar panel energy to the grid. Not on, ever.
The truth is that airlines know we are bigger and fatter on average, and their operational estimates of fuel burn are based on existing performance data (at least for large aircraft) which means there is no additional adjustment to be done, unless they saw a practicable way of trumping up yet another way of selling a flat rate people-of-size surcharge to the customers, designed of course, to apply to 90% of them by rigging the figures.
Fat taxes are unwieldy, discriminatory, and grossly offensive. And impracticable. If you can’t fit in a seat you may be refused carriage, or required to buy an additional seat, hopefully on the same side of the aisle.
Remember, as Mr Webber may have forgotten, that the way the airlines recover the additional costs of flying a population that is getting heavier over time is through the day-to-day operational data. There is no extra adjustment to be made.
You must be logged in to post a comment.