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.

  • Eric

    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.

  • red

    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

  • Jeff

    Pay by the pound.

    • mydh12

      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.

      • really?

        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.

        • Allen

          Do you have a point?

          • Susan

            seriously, better read again!!!!!

  • BF

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

    • Uncle Rico

      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.

  • Reality

    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.

    • Mike

      that cool, then don’t go…

  • Pam

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

  • Jed

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

  • Kat

    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!!!!!!

  • TH

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

  • Honest

    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.

  • llp

    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.

    • Cheers

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

  • Richard in Minneapolis

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

  • See BS

    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.

    • Cheers

      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

    • cls

      Ummm, yes, it is called first class

  • Matt

    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.

  • Mel

    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!

    • No Reason

      Quit reclining your seat then you midget!

      • Mel

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

        • Uncle Rico

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

          • mel

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

            • Uncle Rico

              just you

        • No Reason

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

          • mel

            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.

            • No Reason

              Do you get an androgynous discount?

    • SO SAD

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

  • minn

    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.

  • wish he was our GOV

    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

  • Erin

    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.

    • Erin

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

      • Uncle Rico

        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.

    • yup

      He he he!!!

    • Mel


    • Kato

      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 .

    • Erin's friend

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

  • Barb Altman Cline

    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.

    • Uncle Rico

      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

  • Kat

    Who’s gonna determine what is overweight?

    • Mary Kay


    • Matt

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

    • Allen

      A scale?

  • j speedbag64

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

    • BKinMN

      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.

  • lisa

    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.

  • Whatever

    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!

    • Uncle Rico

      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.

  • sue

    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.

  • missy

    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.

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