The controversial “pay what you weigh” airline is now creating a wider row on its aircrafts to comfortably seat passengers who weigh more than 130 kilograms (286 pounds). The new row gives larger passengers an extra 12 to 14 inches of space, alleviating the discomfort large people often face when sitting in small airline seats.
“Quite often the access is difficult, and even the space between the seats is enough that even when you’ve squeezed into the seats there’s no room for your legs. That’s where the XL has come in – we do it with shirts and clothing and other things where we have different standard sizes,” Chris Langton, the airline’s head, tells Business Insider.
Samoa Airline’s efforts to accommodate larger passengers make sense in Samoa, a country with one of the world’s highest rates of obesity. When flying on the airline, passengers pay a fixed price per kilogram for themselves and their luggage that varies anywhere from about $1 to $4 per kilogram, depending on the length of the route. Samoa Airlines seems to believe other carriers will follow suit and soon develop similar methods of calculating rates for passengers.
Considering the number of fake travel stories we posted in celebration of April Fool’s Day on Monday, we can understand why you might be skeptical of the following post. But it has actually been confirmed by a number of news outlets across the globe, including the BBC. Still, considering the timing, I was double and triple checking the news.
Samoa Air has announced that it will now start charging passengers based on weight. The controversial new pricing means that it will now be cheaper for thinner customers to travel with the tiny airline, which operates just two aircraft over a few relatively short routes. Those planes are small, which makes them more susceptible to heavy loads as they fly between Samoa, American Samoa, North Tonga, Niue, the North Cook Islands and French Polynesia.
According to the new policy, passengers, along with their bags, will be weighed at the airport to determine just how much they’ll have to pay. They will then be charged a fixed rate per kilogram, which varies based on which route the passenger is actually flying. Those rates range from as little as $1 all the way up to $4.16 per kilogram. There are no extra bag fees of any kind, just a simple scale based directly on weight.Chris Langton, the Chief Executive of Samoa Air, has been widely quoted in the media as saying that this is “the fairest way of traveling,” and I’m sure many would agree. Sitting next to a particularly large passenger who takes up half of your seat isn’t especially comfortable and while this new pricing scheme won’t alleviate that issue, at least svelte customers will have the satisfaction of knowing that they paid less for their fare. Langton also says that the policy will help promote a greater awareness of health in Samoa, a country that is known for having one of the highest obesity rates on the planet.
This is an interesting approach to pricing to say the least. As someone who tends to travel light, I personally wouldn’t mind seeing some of the bigger airlines adopt a similar approach. But considering the size of many passengers, not to mention their bags, I’m not sure how popular it would be with the general public. Besides, going through a TSA screening can be harrowing enough, how bad would you feel if you had to step on a scale at the ticket counter too?
The famous Spanish explorer Ponce de León spent parts of his travels on an unfruitful search for the fountain of youth.
Sailing from Puerto Rico to Florida in 1513 on a voyage, which would become the first documented European exploration of the American mainland, rumors of de León’s search for the mythical fountain wouldn’t arise until documents published after his death (which, as it turns out, wasn’t due to old age, but from being wounded in the thigh by a poisoned arrow during an exploration of Southwestern Florida).
Unfortunately for de León, not only was he was searching in the wrong ocean for the secret of anti-aging, he was also searching in the wrong century. Had de León been sailing around the western Pacific in, say, 1910, he would have discovered a completely arbitrary line, which has the ability to make a traveler an entire day younger.
Sure, you might only be younger on the calendar as opposed to in actuality, but thanks to the existence of the International Date Line, trans-Pacific travelers technically possess the ability to go back in time.For those who aren’t familiar (or who have never crossed over the non-existent line), the International Date Line was established as a way of making sense of the world’s time zones for explorers who were traveling across oceans.
Magellan found out on his first circumnavigation of the globe that despite the fact he had kept meticulous record of the days on his journey, he nevertheless returned to Europe and was off by an entire day. Similarly, those traveling eastbound would discover that upon returning home, days, which they had recorded as having happened, actually hadn’t happened yet.
Since no imaginary line had been crossed, which would denote you had “crossed into yesterday,” explorers would continue with their erroneous calculations until an International Meridian conference was finally held in Washington D.C. in 1884. Delegates from 25 nations decided that the “International Date Line” would be 180 degrees from the Prime Meridian in England, and conveniently, this line passed mostly through water.
Over the course of its 129-year history, however, the specific location of the “line” has been conveniently shifted on numerous occasions, most recently in 2011 when Samoa up and decided they were going to move across to the other side of the line.
The reason? The government figured that being closer in time zones to Australia and New Zealand would attract more tourists who simply couldn’t be bothered with flying all the way to a country, which is located in yesterday.
“That’s great. Enough history. Where does the time travel part come in and how can travel make you younger?“
While the establishment of the line was a mere calendar convenience during the days of oceanic travel, with the advent of the airplane and trans-oceanic flights, travelers suddenly had the ability to reach a nation on the other side of the line in less time than it takes the world to spin and catch up. Thanks to the ability to propel ourselves through the air at speeds in excess of 600 mph, it’s now possible to actually live the same day twice.
This was a trendy realization of novelty-seekers who actually celebrated the year 2000 in Sydney, Australia, and then promptly hopped on an eastbound plane to Honolulu so that they could experience the whole party for a second time.
They departed on January 1, 2000, landed on December 31, 1999, and after a quick nap on the plane were geared up and ready to party all over again.
While this isn’t exactly news for those who cross the dateline regularly, what if that day where you skipped back in time … just so happened to be your birthday? Technically, then, according to a calendar and whole numbers, would you not actually become younger?
As it just so happens, I experienced this phenomenon this very past year. My wife and I met a friend for my birthday dinner in Auckland, New Zealand. We went to an Indian restaurant. We drank wine (Gewurtztraminer goes great with curry), and the date was February 13. On the stroke of midnight we clinked glasses to the day of my birth, February 14, and I had officially turned 29.
Hopping on an eastbound flight to Honolulu the next morning at 9 a.m., I drooled on the window in a semi-hungover fog as we passed up and over the imaginary line. Landing nine hours later in Honolulu, I awoke to the reality of it once again being February 13.
I was now 28. Again.
Have you ever experienced your birthday twice in the same year? Share your tales of dateline madness in the comments section below.
Andrew Zimmern insists that yak penis “melts in your mouth.” The author, chef and host of the Travel Channel show “Bizarre Foods” also claims that delicacies like snake and deer penis, live frog heart, lizard sake, cow placenta, squirrel brain, sugar cane rat, wildebeast eyeballs and fried tarantulas are all perfectly edible, if not downright delicious. In Madagascar, Zimmern witnessed a circumcision ritual in which the foreskin was eaten, and, though he estimates he’s eaten 60-70 types of animal penis and testicles, he says he draws the line at eating human flesh (see videos below).
Zimmern, 51, is a native New Yorker and graduate of Vassar College who struggled with drug and alcohol addiction in the early ’90s. He was homeless for a year and fed his drug habit by snatching purses and selling the credit card numbers and passports he found. With the help of friends, he moved to Minnesota, got clean, and turned his life around as a chef.
Zimmern claims he’s never gotten sick from any of the bizarre foods he’s eaten and he’s on a mission to get Americans to expand their culinary horizons. In the new season of the show, which premiers on February 11, he’ll feast on baked muskrat, deep fried pig testicles and fermented fish eggs, among other treats. We caught up with Zimmern to ask him how he stomachs all the crap he puts down his gullet.
I’ve seen you eat some ridiculous things over the years but find it hard to believe that the one food you dislike is walnuts?
Don’t I get to not like something? I just think they’re soapy and gross. I just can’t stand them.
Are there other foods you won’t eat?
But, some of the things you eat just boggle my mind. In Goa, for example, you drank cow urine and ate a fish that hadn’t been refrigerated for more than a year (see video below). What were you thinking?
Terrible, I know.
Does your producer ever suggest something so vile that even you say, ‘No – I am not eating that!’
It’s extremely rare. There’s nothing that happens in the show that I don’t either create or vet or both. I’m usually the one who finds foods in the field and says, ‘We’ve got to include this.’ This show is driven by my curiosity and desire to interpret cultures through food. It’s not driven by a producer saying, ‘This sounds really gross, let’s use that.’ If there is no cultural relevance to something, if it’s just thrill seeking eating, it’s not in our show.
In this upcoming season, you’ll be sampling deep fried piglet testicles, among other things. How were those?
Testicles of animals are delicious. The larger the animal the faster they need to get from the clip into the frying pan. Smaller testicles – roosters, ducks, geese, vermin – are very, very delicate and creamy and are easier to keep fresh. Pig’s balls are great. An animal’s testicles are just another piece of meat that can be cooked the right way and taste very good or cooked the wrong way and they’re not.
You ate those pig balls at a fair in Iowa?
No, we were on a pig farm, Rustik Rooster, in Iowa. Certain breeds of pigs if you let them grow too big with their testicles attached, the meat will develop a gamey flavor as the animal matures. So when the piglets are young, they snip the testicles. We cleaned them, soaked them in a brine, and then breaded and deep-fried them. They were delicious.
You visited a restaurant in Beijing that specializes in animal penises (see video below). How was that?
We used to be able to eat everything because whole animals went into butcher shops but we’re returning to that in some parts of the country. Ten years ago, you couldn’t buy pig livers or lamb kidneys, for example, and now you can. There’s a renewed interest in snout to tail eating and people are understanding that if we are going to eat meat, we need to eat the whole animal to be environmentally sustainable, and people are seeing how delicious that can be as well.
Americans are pretty much the world’s wimpiest eaters aren’t we?
Extremely so. Not even close.
I wonder if your show has turned people on to some funky foods they otherwise wouldn’t have tried?
It’s hard to say ‘yes’ without sounding like a douchebag but yes, you’re right. The show has been on since 2007. I had been trying to sell this idea well before that. I am extremely proud of what we’ve been able to contribute to the national conversation about food. The show has had a positive impact on helping to remake taste here in America.
Your show is the only one my 5-year-old son and I can agree on.
You should buy him my book. My son is 8 and all the 5-year-old kids in our neighborhood just devour it. No one counted on “Bizarre Foods” being as popular with kids and families as it has been. There are very few shows that a mom, dad, 5-, 10- and 15-year-old can sit down and enjoy together. “Bizarre Foods” is one of them and I’m very proud of that.
My favorite moments on the show are those very rare occasions when you find something that even you can’t stomach. Durian is one of those really challenging foods, right?
There are a lot of foods I have a hard time with. Sometimes I speak in code on camera because I’d rather be a good guest, not this TV guy who is making fun of people who are trying to accommodate, entertain or inform us.
Tell us about a few of the things that have been very hard to swallow?
Lots of things, from fermented skate wing in Korea to fresh animal blood, even little things like eating fresh milk right from a cow, donkey, horse, a reindeer, or a camel. Warm, foamy milk out of an animal’s teat is not how people are used to drinking it. There is a mind over matter aspect to this that is always difficult to deal with. But the practice of tasting and acquiring knowledge allows you to say, ‘that’s not that bad’ and then you get pleasant surprises that I think make for a very interesting eating life. Because I’m most often pleasantly surprised, I’ve learned that you really need to try things.
I can’t recall ever seeing you spit something out. You swallow just about everything, right?
I always do. I can count maybe two or three items I spit out. One was a snack food on the streets of New Delhi that was made with putrid water that I knew would make me sick. Another occasion was in the Philippines when someone offered me a rotten chicken intestine that was raw. In the pilot, I spat out my first taste of durian, which was just horrific. And I learned a valuable lesson.
The orchard manager was so hurt because he was so proud of his country’s favorite fruit. It was quickly smoothed over, but I realized that I wanted to accomplish my goal of broadening peoples’ minds and open them up to the idea that we could share ideas about our differences and resolve them if we could talk about our love of food. And I couldn’t accomplish that goal if I was spitting things out.
I hear you, but there’s no way I could swallow some of the things you eat. Bat, for example. How do you eat a bat?
I ate grilled bat in Thailand and Samoa. I loved it! [In Samoa] there was a giant fruit bat; I shot it out of the sky while standing underneath a breadfruit tree.
You’ve traveled to more than 100 countries, many of them pretty tough places. Watching the Suriname episode, that looked like the hardest travel experience. Was it?
Not enough close – it was by far the most strenuous travel experience. The entire experience was absolutely brutal. We travel with a crew and they need a clean place to sleep and regular meals. I love eating a fried turtle stew or wild pig liver in the jungle, but the crew needs to be looked after in a different way and Suriname was extremely hot, hard living. We had a 52-kilometer hike over a 30-hour period through virgin rain forest. It was extremely brutal.
A little over 20 years ago, you were a homeless drug addict in New York. Could you have envisioned then that you’d be able to turn your life into a success story?
Never in a million years when I was a homeless addict and alcoholic living on the streets in 1990 and 1991 did I think that I would get sober or live to see my 31st birthday. I was scooped up off the streets by friends who did yet again another intervention on me. [They] put me into a treatment facility in Minnesota and I’ve been sober ever since. That is the greatest blessing of my life. That I’m alive is good enough but the fact that I’m in a position to have the type of life that I do is extraordinary and it’s why I place so much emphasis on giving back to the community because my gratitude is immense. I’m the luckiest person in the world.
A powerful cyclone that left at least four dead as it ripped through Samoa late last week caused flooding and structural damage when it hammered Fiji on Sunday, The Daily Telegraph is reporting.
The worst of Cyclone Evan, the first tropical cyclone of the season in the South Pacific, seems to have passed, but the storm left a path of destruction as it made its way through Wallis and Futuna, Tonga, American Samoa, Samoa and Fiji.
Fijian authorities scrambled to evacuate more than 8,000 residents and tourists in low-lying areas on Sunday, and airlines suspended flights in and out of the country. Two ships ran aground near the entrance to Suva Harbour as 160 mile per hour winds hammered the Fijian capital.
The storm is said to be the worst cyclone to hit the island in 20 years. It caused flooding, structural damage and downed power lines, but so far there have been no reports of deaths or serious injuries in Fiji.
Four deaths have been confirmed from Samoa, where 10 people remain missing and thousands of people have been left homeless.
To see more of the damage in Samoa and Fiji, click through the gallery below.