Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pies in the skies

Here we go again. Airlines, seeking to increase their profit margins, are looking at fat passengers as a means to fill their coffers.

Euphemistically described as having ‘unique seating needs’, a fatter passenger is sometimes obliged to buy a second seat if he or she can’t get the armrest all the way down, or need the seatbelt extension, or if someone at Check-In decides he or she is a suitable target for additional charges. What an outrage! Imagine the scene in a crowded airport terminal. 

Now imagine that scene if it’s the choleric Goat who gets singled out. 

According to the World Health Organisation, the planet is suffering from an obesity epidemic. Translated into air travel, this means heavier planes, more fuel, and more drowned polar bears. Perhaps airlines shouldn’t persist with minuscule seats, and instead take a realistic view that the population as a whole is getting bigger. Charge more if you have to.

Cattle Class seating is tiny. Instead of providing luxury in the sky as promised by the adverts for the newer, larger airliners (The ads invariably show happy, smiling First Class passengers who almost certainly had someone else buy their tickets), we find more seats crammed into the back with minimal seat pitch and width. OK, so the Goat could do with losing a stone or three, and he’s currently working on this. But no amount of diet and exercise is going to decrease the distance between his shoulders or the length of his thigh-bones.

The Goat contends that picking out only certain passengers for weigh-in as if they’re jockeys at the Grand National is deeply offensive. If an airline is insistent on charging by body weight, then it should certainly not single out only the fuller-figured. Every passenger should be weighed, along with their carry-on as well as the checked baggage, and the fare decided based on the total weight carried by that passenger. Thus, some racing snake with a couple of massive bags in the hold, plus a gigantic carry-on holdall, plus a bag of Duty Free might well end up paying more than Muggins with his overnight bag and no checked luggage.

But that doesn’t suit the airlines’ Grand Plan, does it? Make fat passengers pay more, but don’t offer any form of discount for anyone travelling light. It doesn’t feel so good to be slim now, does it? Paying over the odds because you’re underweight. Rather like the current system with checked bags, where you have pay ‘excess baggage’ if it’s overweight but receive less than a brass farthing if it’s under.

Assuming that it’s unrealistic to boycott any airline that is going to charge extra to any passenger who looks a bit porky, there is a more practical solution, which is this: fly Business Class. One Business seat costs no more than two in Cattle Class, it’s certainly more comfortable; wider and longer, plus you get more baggage allowance, better food, and better service.


1 comment:

Jayne said...

I only fly cockroach class on flights less than 4hrs duration - which basically means JNB-EL or CT. Otherwise, I pay the obscene amounts for Business Class & enjoy it, plus I know I won't get (another) DVT because I've been cramped up for so long. Thankfully, I won't be doing much flying now!


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