Should Overweight Air Travelers Pay A Surcharge?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Should overweight air passengers pay more for their tickets? A Princeton University professor says it only makes sense, since travelers already pay a fee for their oversized bags.

WCCO’s Esme Murphy put the question to her listeners and got a mixed response.

“It’s well overdue,” said Richard from Bloomington.

But a caller from Sarah said, “I don’t believe any large-size person would choose to be large-size.”

Princeton Professor Peter Singer, a bioethics specialist, suggests that ticket prices be based on a standard passenger weight and those with excessive weight pay a surcharge.


One Comment

  1. Eric says:

    I used to be very overweight and of course didn’t wake up one morning and chose to be overweight. However I did chose many poor lifestyle choices which led to my weight condition. I have sense changed my eating and exercising habits and have lost 85 lbs and am close to a normal weight again.

    People who are overweight do in an indirect way chose to be that way by how they chose to live their life. There is no one in the world that is genetically overweight and can’t take control of the issue through a good diet and exercise.

  2. red says:

    if ones body haooens to take the space of 2 seats for the comfort of all on the plane and we all know how spacious a plane iss I would have to say yes sorry

  3. Jeff says:

    Pay by the pound.

    1. mydh12 says:

      Yes, pay by the pound. That’s what FedEx and UPS and the Post Office do. The airline and air freight services are all essentially the same service: moving items across the country for a price. It makes perfect sense.

      1. really? says:

        you do realize you just referred to yourself and anyone you have every known as items…. as freight.. Let’s see do you convert O2 to CO2? Do you have free will? Do you reproduce? Oh the answer is yes?? YAY you and everyone else are LIVING creatures. Wow, I hope no one ever treats me like a package that gets chucked in the mail.

        1. Allen says:

          Do you have a point?

          1. Susan says:

            seriously, better read again!!!!!

  4. BF says:

    Would smaller than average people and/or children receive a discount?

    1. Uncle Rico says:

      posting again as my stalker is trying to censor me: Nope, it’s a sliding scale, priced per pound. They should also do the same thing with clothing, why is the XXL and the Small the same price? Insurance plans too, why do I pay 200 dollars a month when I haven’t been to the doctor in 7 years (I’m healthy)… Everyone wants to live in this uber-individualistic society but no one wants to take total account or responsibility for who and what they are.

  5. Reality says:

    That would be cool for me because my whole life I have been below average weight and can not see that changing ever in my life. Only downfall you could not pay me to go on a large corporations airplane.

    1. Mike says:

      that cool, then don’t go…

  6. Pam says:

    Perfect as long as they make the size of the seat proportionate to the size of the seat we’re paying for.

  7. Jed says:

    they should be paying their ‘fair share’. They have more so they should help the skinny people out and pay more.

  8. Kat says:

    I think they should pay! Encourage them to lose that unhealthy weight. I think the same goes for buses! They should pay more for taking up more of the chair. I would like to discourage these types of people and their unhealthy lifestyle!!!!!!

  9. TH says:

    Charge by the pound. Have us stand on a scale with our luggage then base the ticket price on the total weight.

  10. Honest says:

    I wouldn’t know how to address this issue myself. Do we charge for the person who takes up more room? Point it out objectively? Or do we ignore it and assume we’re all “equal” in body type and be more accommodating? The former can lead to problems arising in the persons self esteem. What if they have an eating disorder due to a psychological predisposition to anxiety and sensitivity?

    Either way, there aren’t many pros in both choices. It’s more so, how do you want to handle it? Personally? Or as a business? Which ever they choose, they’ll be making a large choice in their company’s projected persona on customers.

  11. llp says:

    Except for one thing people are forgetting, the airlines have over the years made the rows and seats smaller to stuff more people on their planes like little sardines and then charge you more for very bad service . So don’t blame it on large people blame it on the greed of a few who make money off of many and don’t care.

    1. Cheers says:

      You are correct – yet I think if American carried the same weights as they did 20 years ago it is a non-factor

  12. Richard in Minneapolis says:

    Will families travelling together pay for their average weight? Seems only fair.

  13. See BS says:

    why not offer a seat for passangers who are bigger? A larger seat with more room for $50 over the ticket price for regular seats. If the seat is not filled by a big person, offer passangers on the flight to upgrade to the seat for big people.

    1. Cheers says:

      Sense what this brings is a 89# over-weight person will continue to stuff themselves into that smaller seat more often than not so where is the gain and point in it?
      More weight is more fuel of course – size restraints aside.
      In the summer over a weekend of boating it’s easy to tell if it’s just my spouse and myself – tack on 2 people it’s up 40-50% in gas costs. A plane is more efficient but it has to be huge extra cost as an industry

    2. cls says:

      Ummm, yes, it is called first class

  14. Matt says:

    Pay per seat, if someone can’t fit into a seat because the person next to them is so huge the over weight person should have to pay for that seat.

  15. Mel says:

    I’m short and I’d like for those taller or long legged people pay more for bumping into the back of my seat with their knobby knees!

    1. SO SAD says:

      Yes, and I would like the people with crying babies and whiny kids to pay extra too.

    2. No Reason says:

      Quit reclining your seat then you midget!

      1. Mel says:

        My seat that I paid for it I’ll do with it what I want!

        1. Uncle Rico says:

          Napoleon Complex Mel? Its the reciprocal of the Big Friendly Fatty Complex.

          1. mel says:

            Ha, ha! Probably not as I’m female. Hate much, Uncle?

            1. Uncle Rico says:

              just you

        2. No Reason says:

          Maybe you could sit on someone’s lap then you could look out the window.

          1. mel says:

            Nope. I chose the aisle (or upgrade to first class at times for free) as I am a frequent flyer and get those good perks.

            1. No Reason says:

              Do you get an androgynous discount?

  16. minn says:

    Next it will be pay more for being tall. c’mon, it’s called a gene pool, diabetes, many health issues. So look at a person and judge them poorly. Pathetic society.

  17. wish he was our GOV says:

    I very much dislike people who make rediculous statements like the one you just made. I am happy to hear you can deal with Ugly people, how arrogant can you be

  18. Erin says:

    I really hope the next time your on a plane you have to sit next to one of those overweight people you “just bother you” I hope they do exactly that. If you are so bothered why don’t YOU pay for the better seat? It is your prerogative to get the service you want. You knew that there was a chance you would be seated next to an overweight person when you bought your ticket, therefore if you cannot or do not want to deal with such a problem then it is up to you to make sure don’t have to suffer through a bothersome flight. Whether that means you upgrade to first class or pay for your own private flight, but it is your problem to avoid. It is not the overweight person’s responsibility to accommodate you.

    1. Erin says:

      Think whatever you want but I really just do not enjoy the rude and discourteous people in the world.

      1. Uncle Rico says:

        You don’t like rude or what you consider to be discourteous people and “Not Quite” doesn’t like fatties. Neither of you are wrong you know. You are allowed to like and dislike things, it’s ok.

    2. Kato says:

      I pay for my space. If someone is in it, they should pay for it.
      I cannot tolerate a person of oversize to be in my space I paid for. It is sick that I pay for half of their seat .

    3. Erin's friend says:

      Just wash between the folds Erin, and know I enjoy sitting sideways. It’s all good.

  19. Barb Altman Cline says:

    Who is next, we picked on hispanic, women, now fat. Keep us upset and angry at each other then we can not ban together and solve the big problems.

    1. Uncle Rico says:

      Try to censor me again psychopath… Here is my comment once again: Don’t be foolish, BAC, Fatties are an enormous drain on society, it’s really pathetic when you think about it, and a total waist of the amazing human body

  20. Kat says:

    Who’s gonna determine what is overweight?

    1. Matt says:

      a sign “You must fit between these two lines.”

  21. j speedbag64 says:

    c’mon professer pete….it’s per person not per pound…..i hope a ”fat guy” beats the hell out of you…..

    1. BKinMN says:

      Bags……we all know this would never happen, because Fatty McFatterson would need to take a break, due to shortness of breath, and/or hunger pangs.

  22. lisa says:

    If this is the case then I say, a surcharge for added seat space instead of ‘extra weight’ that takes up extra space. It’s all in the way you phrase it. I would pay an extra ‘surcharge’ to have all the seating around me, just so I wouldn’t have to put up with another person.🙂 I’m sure alot of others would as well, as long as the added fee is UNDER the amount of an extra ticket.

  23. Whatever says:

    So apparently the issue is that overweight people overflow into your seat, so it’s a comfort or space thing right? Why not also charge those parents who cannot control their children extra as well. I can’t tell you how many times a child sitting behind me constantly kicks the seat and the parent does nothing. Or the child running up and down the aisle and the parent does nothing. If we’re talking about comfort, those thing impede on my comfort so there should be charges for those as well!

    1. Uncle Rico says:

      There was discussion at one point to have kid free flights. Unfortunately the non-breeding people with self control would likely take on the luxury tax associated with not wanting to fly with other peoples brats, while Im sure the society polluters get a discount or a reward for adding to the infestation. Upside down world.

  24. sue says:

    Yes, they should pay more. I also think people with screaming annoying children should have to be put in the back of the plane (with a dividing wall preferably). I’m not paying outrageous prices to have your fat hang in my seat or your screaming child in my ear.

  25. missy says:

    You’re telling me that the airline forced paying passengers to get off the plane? I think we would have heard about that in the news.

  26. eathelbard says:

    If I pay for extra weight, I’m damn sure gonna expect a seat that fits me. Not only are they too narrow, I sit with my backbone straight against the seat back and my knees touch the seat in front. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my kneecaps crushed by dopes who recline the seat in front of me, and finding it doesn’t move easily, throw themselves against it until I yell in pain.

    1. SO SAD says:

      Boy, you guys are very immature with your comments and name calling. I bet you call yourselves “christians” too.

    2. Eathelbard says:

      Precisely how is having long legs due to being 6 foot 7 in any way related to weight?

      Grammar-addled prick.

  27. Oh Whatever says:

    Fine charge me more for my size, to be frank I could use the extra room. But in doing so, let me bring twice the carry-on allowances as well. If I pay fo two seats I should get all the benefits have having two seats.

    Furthermore, if parents are going to carry their child and hold them in their lap during the trip. the weight of that child should also be taken into consideration for that seat?

  28. Pshredder says:

    If we are going to have overweight people pay extra, then maybe we should also expect pregnant women to pay for an second ticket as well. They take up seat space too.

  29. Greg says:

    It is okay to charge by the pound if balding people get dicounts for hair cuts and perms.

  30. Greg says:

    It is okay to charge by the pound if balding people get a discount for haircuts and or perms.

  31. Tony says:

    On an airplane you are buying space. The airline should tell us how much space we are getting for our dollar. If I want or need more space then I would have the option to buy it. Just like pants. Extended sized pants cost more then the basic S, M, L and XL.

  32. tj says:

    Are you a doctor? don’t make a claim if you cannot back it up. I don’t have a problem with the second half of your statement.

  33. Really? Really?? says:

    Wonder how it will be determined what the average weight is? BMI; unfair subsidy to those strapping 6″6″ folks with a BMI of 25 vs. a 4’11” person with a BMI of 30. How about a parent with a lap child? What if the kid pushed their total seat limit over the weight limit? Or should those folks over 200 pounds start paying more?

    As a frequent flyer the BIGGEST hassle is people who hog the over head carry on space with more than their alloted luggage and/or refuse to stash their smaller allowable carry on under the seat in front of them. Only a couple of times have I sat next too a terribly obese person and it really did not bother me. But then again I’m not easily offended, misguidely angry nor a person who demands much.

    I was obese once. Misdiagnosed in my early twenties for 4 years. Went from 140 pounds to over 200 because for 4 years idiotic MD’s took my money I had saved for college without bothering to accurately diagnose me with hypothyroidism. Friggin’ nightmare time until my mother with her high school diploma trumpted the MD’s by diagnosing me accurately. So yes, there are medical reasons for obesity.

  34. C'Mon Man says:

    I love how people judge someone through a posting but yet non of you that are rude on here would ever look at someone 6ft 3and 285 pounds and say any of this to ones face. Got to love the ones that are judgemental they are the same ones that if you asked they think the whole world owes them something.

  35. C'Mon Man says:

    What about screaming kids or the bad breath ones sitting next to you? I didn’t pay to listen to your kid scream for 3 hours so should you be charged for interrupting my movie? Or that woman next to you that has the nastiest breath, should she be made to buy gum? I am a frequent flyer and happen to be a bigger guy yet not fat but 6-3 285. Yeah I could drop a few pounds probably but I have shoulders that are wide. I never intrude on the one next to me for I am courteous to the one next to me and make sure my big shoulders don’t in their space. Now I may have contributed to my weight some but my build I didn’t choose but if the airline told me I needed to pay more I would fly another one that doesn’t require it. It’s that simple.

  36. Wow says:

    I am so appalled by so many of the comments on this article. Its totally astounding to me that people would say these things about someone who is overweight. All you are doing is bullying people into loosing weight to fit into what you look at as the “ideal” body weight and image. Its people like you who make others feel so poorly about themselves, it makes them turn to anerexia and bulimia. Obviously most overweight people would like to be in better shape, no one is arguing that point. But the insults and the name calling is at the level of elementary aged children. People need to get a grip and have more compassion for others.

    1. Uncle Rico says:

      Having all this “compassion” is why half of the country is walking around with an extra 50+ pounds and hearts that are going to explode any minute. Lardo’s need to take some initiative and get moving, it’s disgusting and costs everyone an astounding amount of money to support their lack of motivation and self control. And quit hijacking the bullying term, its really starting to wear thin.

  37. Kato says:

    The comments listed are very interesting… from pregnant women to those with children. During the last two flights I have taken, I have sat between two very, extremely large individuals. It was terrible. Their bodies extended into my seat which made me need to cramp into my own space, which I paid for. Arms and extended portions of their body were in my space. My flights were terribly uncomfortable and long. There must be a resolve to this issue. There either needs to be a size or weight limitation and an added pay for an extra seat or some option. My flights were awful, simply awful. I feel for these folks but I should not have to suffer due to their size. I had only one half of my seat during my flights due to the size of these individuals. It was terrible.

  38. Meaa Joh says:

    What a bunch of hateful, ignorant, stupid, cruel, pigs most of you are. No doubt hiding behind the computer screen in mommy’s basement, clutching your bag of Cheetos and swilling diet Mountain Dew. No wonder this country is going down the drain; the stupidity of many Americans is mind-blowing.

    1. Kato says:

      No, I just was frustrated with half of my seat with paying full price.

      1. Carl says:

        I’m frustrated that half their butt is on my lap and I’m the one that is going to get in trouble from a law suit.

  39. Kato says:

    I am commenting on this page due to my frustratiions during my last flights. I am very glad this topic is being addressed. The airlines need to determine what to do with folks who are in two or three seats, as were the last two folks I sat next to. It is simply not equitable in our ticket prices. If I pay for a full seat I deserve a full seat without needing to shift or accommodate a person who is extra large in my space. Something needs to be done to address this issue!

    1. cls says:

      Maybe we could just humbly suffer for a plane ride and have empathy for those you are struggling with food issues. What is all the hate. If it was me i would be uncomfortable, but I know my first thought would be thank goodness I don’t have this problem.

      1. Frankie says:

        At some point and time the overweight person needs to take responsibility for themselves. When the overweight person does not seem to care about how their condition effect other people why should I suffer?

  40. pretty simple says:

    No, if you’re socialist, Yes if you’re not.

  41. squished into a seat says:

    They can be used for pillows, footrests, or flotation devices in case of a water landing. In tight leggings or skinny jeans, they are poetry in motion.

  42. get 'em says:

    I think they should be rounded up, put in camps, and eventually exterminated because they’re socially and politically vulnerable. Then we’ll go after the short people, ’cause they just ain’t got no reason to live.

  43. the only option says:

    Fat people should be made to wear yellow badges shaped like doughnuts. Then they should be ostrasized, kicked out of their jobs and homes, there businesses destroyed, and finally killed. How dare they flout our culture of thin, which thanks to globalization has produced anorexia in Brazil. We have been programmed by evolution to eat when there’s plenty, but that’s no excuse when our culture only values the impossible body dimensions of a Barbie doll. They gave into human nature so they must be subhuman. Our only option is to get rid of them

    1. Susan says:

      Hitler is alive and well in “the only option”. above, read history, stars were required on all Jews, God help us if you were allowed to round up all the people you deem too large. You have no soul!!!!

      1. the only option says:

        I think the sarcasm and its message were blatantly obvious. Sorry it went over your head. To put it bluntly for you Susan, our culture is valuing an impossible body image while denigrating those who don’t try to live up to it. Got it?

        1. Susan says:

          sorry couldn’t get past wearing yellow doughnuts.

          1. Susan says:

            you didn’t have to be such a snot though

  44. Eathelbard says:


    1. right says:

      And you add to the bile pile by referring to another poster as a “grammar addled prick.” Who appointed you as the moral guardian of this comment forum?

  45. Uncle Rico says:

    You two must be a couple of doughnut devouring fatties.

  46. Crucero Costa says:

    Woah this blog is great i love reading your posts. Keep up the good paintings! You realize, lots of people are hunting round for this information, you could aid them greatly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From WCCO | CBS Minnesota

Good Question

Listen Live