Mario Di Simine's Profile
Should the obese pay more for seats?
It can’t get more uncomfortable than this: Asking people to pay more because of their size. But most people, it seems, are just fine with that.
A poll by travel website Skyscanner found that 76 percent of people believe airlines should charge what amounts to a “fat tax” to overweight folks needing an extra seat. Only 22 percent of the 550 people questioned disapproved of a surcharge.
Obesity is a problem in the United States — all you have to do is look around to see how prevalent it is. But there are statistics to back up the view: In 2008, 34 percent of Americans were obese, the Journal of the American Medical Association said.
There is also little doubt that weight plays a role in health, and costs a bucketload of cash — obesity-related health care costs upward of $100 billion a year, some research shows. An ABCNews report said obesity will cost the United States about $344 billion in medical-related expenses by 2018.
But pulling out a statistic and saying this is what obese means is much different than looking at someone and saying you’re too fat to fit here, pay us some money.
This isn’t a new issue. Southwest Airlines and United Airlines have a policy where “oversize” people need to buy a second seat and can claim a refund if the plane is not full. This followed complaints from neighboring passengers.
The latest hubbub comes after an erroneous report that Air France KLM would start charging the fat tax, which the airline denied. In fact, the national carrier will take a similar stance as that of Southwest and United. Starting Feb 1. overweight passengers who had freely chosen to buy an extra seat for comfort would get their money back on flights that were not fully booked.
It begs the question, what’s next? Should taxis charge the overweight? How about your local bus? Railways? The seats in most modes of transportation are designed to squeeze in the maximum number of passengers in the smallest possible space. How many “average sized” people are comfortable in economy class?
Some would argue that efforts to charge by the pound, so to speak, amount to discrimination, perhaps even a violation of a person’s civil rights.
And besides, how do you judge and who does the judging? Many overweight folks do fit into those airline seats. But you won’t know it till they sit down. Will they be charged then, or judged before?
What do you think? Is a “fat tax” a good idea?