Tiny Samoa Air First To Charge Passengers Based On Weight

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?

[Photo Credit: Samoa Air]

Ask Gadling: Travel weight gain

Traveling into unknown territory can bring up a lot of questions. We’re here to help. This week’s question comes from Andrew in Long Island, who has a problem that many — if not most — of us have.

“I’m trying to lose weight. I’ve lost 15 pounds since February, but I keep wrecking my progress when I go out of town. I travel once per month for business and also went on a vacation, and every time it’s the same thing. I don’t feel like I’m eating that much.”

Gadling: First of all, congratulations on losing 15 pounds. I’m sorry to hear that travel has been getting in your way, though. Provided that you are not on a special diet and under the close supervision of a doctor, here are some tips that might help:

Don’t eat on the plane.

Airplane food can have a lot of hidden calories, not to mention preservatives. Is it really that great, even in first class? Not great enough to justify eating it. We tend to not even count airplane food as a real “meal.” You’re still going to want to try some local cuisine when you get off the plane, so save your appetite. If the flight is really long (I’m already assuming it’s decently long if they’re serving food at all), try packing sandwiches and fruit so that you have control over what you’re eating. At the very least, grab yourself a small square of dark chocolate or an apple and forgo whatever sugary cake they put on your tray table.

View more Ask Gadling: Travel Advice from an Expert or send your question to ask [at] gadling [dot] com.

Get some exercise.

Exercising can be a great way to see a new city. If you’re on vacation, it’s easy to justify going for long walks; you may not even notice them. Additionally, check out what bike rides, kayak tours, hikes and other active-activities are available. On the other hand, if you’re just in some industrial complex in middle America every other week for meetings, getting out can be a little trickier. Make a commitment to use the hotel gym at least once for every two days you’re out of town, and if the hotel your company uses doesn’t have one, bring it up with your boss and see if they can start using a new one or provide you with a local gym membership while you’re there. Asking for a way to help you stay healthy may seem embarrassing, but it’s not out of the question. Just don’t phrase it like you’re looking for an upgrade.

Don’t “vacation eat.”

We’ve all said it: “I can eat whatever I want, it’s vacation!” or thought: “I might not ever get to eat at this restaurant again, so I’d better have a feast.” Well, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s not a vacation from that, and whether you’ll ever be at a restaurant again or not, overeating doesn’t make any logical sense. The way to avoid “vacation eating” is to make sure you’ve lined up lots of fun things to do; that way, you don’t find yourself coasting from meal to meal. If there’s nothing planned but breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner, you’ll naturally try and get all you can out of those events, which can include multiple courses and cleaning your plate — neither of which is necessary. Use the same tricks you would at home; ask yourself how hungry you are on a scale of one to ten and order accordingly. Don’t make food the main event of your day or your vacation.

If work for you involves long, multi-course lunches, first of all, congratulations, your job rocks. But really, you don’t have to eat all that much. Keep drinking water, eat more of the salad and less of the potatoes. Don’t clean your plate. These things may seem ineffectual, and on their own, they are; but if you do them as a rule, they can make a big difference.

Keep the drinking under control.

Not that you have a problem or anything. Most of us tend to drink more when we’re away. Whether it’s boredom while alone in a hotel room, work buddies, friends you don’t usually get to see or you’re just plain “vacation drinking,” keep the caloric content of drinks — and the fact that drinking can lead to more eating — in mind. If you’re concerned that someone will give you a hard time if you don’t have a drink in your hand, or that you won’t have as much fun, try just replacing a drink here and there with a plain soda with lime from the bar. It looks like a drink, so you won’t feel (or look) like you’re not participating.

How to lose weight on a cruise – Cruise tip

Avoid the elevators, and use the stairs.

Ships have lots of decks with lots of stairwells – and stairs. But don’t think of them as stairs; think of them as giant, sea-going step-climbers.

Bonus: These step-climbers are carpeted and surrounded by museum-quality art!

Air India fires 10 employees for being fat

State-run Air India gave 10 air hostesses the boot last week for being “exceptionally overweight.”

According to Reuters, a medical board in India had declared them “unfit for duty,” and they had been grounded for two to three years each. Air India finally decided to cut them off — and while several of the air hostesses apparently approached the New Delhi High Court about challenging the firings, the case was quickly scrapped.

This isn’t like back in the 60’s when American flight attendants had to meet almost ridiculous weight restrictions (read our Interview with a Retro Stewardess here), or is it? A five foot 18 year old air hostess for Air India had to weigh under 110 pounds, while hostesses ages 26-30 had a little more leeway at 123 pounds.

The air hostesses, who were between 24 and 70 pounds over their allotted weights, were declared medically incapable of doing their jobs. Now, they are jobless. USA Today spoke with one woman, Sheila Joshi, who had 27 years of service under her blazer.

From USA Today:

The Times notes the move comes as “a new breed” of Indian airlines “aims to entice travellers with promises of svelte cabin crew.” One such carrier is Kingfisher. On that note, flight attendant Joshi says: “Kingfisher was founded four years ago. Its cabin crew are all in their twenties. Let’s see how much they weigh in 20 years.”

Would a five foot tall, 134 pound 18 year old woman pushing a beverage cart really make anyone less likely to fly Air India?

Eesh. I bet Air India wouldn’t want these women on board their planes either (but for different reasons):

Flight attendant ruled too fat to fly

A 20-year legal battle between Philippine Airlines and flight steward Armanda Yrasuegi has finally ended with a Supreme Court ruling that grounds Yrasuegi for good. The airline dismissed Yrasuegi in 1989, because the 5’8 217-pound man had failed to lose weight, as required in his contract.

Yrasuegi cried discrimination, stating that his weight was a “sickness and physical abnormality” beyond his control, but this argument carried little weight when the flight attendant refused repeated offers of medical weight loss assistance. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling in favor of the airline, stating that Yrasuegi’s weight “indicates absence of willpower rather than an illness.”

The ruling went on to say that Yrasuegi’s weight would likely keep him from performing his job efficiently, especially in the case of an emergency. According to Gadling’s own flight attendant, Heather Poole, flight attendants must be able to fit through the exit door and buckle up in the jump seat, which may be difficult for a man nearly 60 pounds overweight.

The airline industry is one of the few where weight requirements aren’t discrimination, but rather simply necessary. We don’t know what Yrasuegi’s contract with Philippine Airlines specifically required in terms of weight, but it doesn’t seem that any airlines are asking their employees to have unrealistic Hollywood bodies. It also sounds like Philippine Airlines was willing to pay for its employee’s weight loss program — how many other companies would do that?

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