Thrifty Samoans looking to take a trip may want to shed a few pounds before booking a flight with Samoan Air after the airline announced the implementation of a “pay as you weigh” system. Unlike some other airlines that have courted controversy by forcing some obese passengers to purchase two seats, Samoa’s national carrier will charge passengers based on their weight.
Samoa has the dubious honor of being one of the fattest countries in the world. It consistently ranks in the top ten fattest countries in the world with over 80 percent of persons aged 15 and over considered overweight. Samoa Air’s fleet of Britten Norman (BN2A) Islanders that carry nine passengers, and a four-seater Cessna 172 are likely to be particularly sensitive to the extra burden of such passengers.
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Established in 2012, Samoa Air flies routes between Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Niue, the North Cook Islands, and French Polynesia, with pay as you weigh rates starting at $1 Samoan Tala (US$0.44) per kilogram (2.2 lb) including baggage, with rates increasing for longer distance flights. Passengers “guesstimate” their total weight (with baggage) when booking online, but are weighed at the airport and pay for only that amount.
While the move has attracted headlines, Samoa Air’s chief executive, Chris Langton, believes the “pay as you weigh” system is fairer for all passengers and could have the added benefit of promoting health and obesity awareness.
A demo fare calculator can be found here.