Buying your airplane seat “by the inch”…

Loyal readers know that I’ve been a long-standing fan of airlines charging by the pound rather than having a flat fare that is applied to all passengers – small, big and supersized.

Here are some ‘greatest hits’ posts on the topic.

Prices: Why don’t airlines charge more for these bags?

Norwegian economics professor jumps on the scale … endorses “pay what you weigh”

Air fares: Public weighs in …

Tipping the scales: Airline starts weighing all passengers …

Airlines weigh-in on cost-cutting ……

Let’s continue the dialogue.

According to The Economist ….

The average American man bulked up from from 166lb in 1960 to 190lb today, while the average woman jumped from 140lb to 166lb.

Note: That today’s average woman weighs about the same as an average man in the 1960s.  Whoa, Nellie!

While Americans were ballooning, airline seats’ widths were constricting —   from 18 inches in 1960 to 16.5 inches today.

To address the obvious issue, Congressman Steve Cohen proposed a law  mandating a minimum amount of seat space for air passengers.

The measure failed.


Very clever cartoon from The Economist


Not to worry, airlines are on the case.

We’ve previously reported on airline programs to charge passengers by-the-pound.

Now, there’s a new tactic being pursued …


The Economist reports that Airbus – following the  pay-by-size principle — has filed a patent application for a “re-configurable passenger bench seat”.

The innovation would, in effect, allocate more girth-wise seat space to bigger passengers … with narrower allocations to less weighty travelers.

Of course, airlines would charge a higher fare for a  wide-body who takes up mucho seat … and a lower price for slimsters who take up little space.

The Airbus patent application proposes a complicated, but flexible seat structure … think, the folding back seat of your SUV with a 2 sections – different widths – that fold up and down.

I think the Economist cartoonist has a much better idea: simply put price markings on seatbelts (think, measuring tapes) … cinch ‘em up … and charge what the belt says.


Or, you can just put scales at the gates and charge passengers by the pound.


On a related,  serious note:

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Waist circumference is a simple measurement that appears to say a lot about your potential life expectancy.

A large waist circumference is a red flag for excessive abdominal fat, which is associated with obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.

So, waist circumference is an important number when looking at your health and longevity … an effect independent of other risk factors, such as age, BMI, physical activity, smoking history and alcohol use.

Specifically, data shows that men with a waist circumference of 43 inches are at 52 percent greater risk of death than men with a 37 inch waist.

For women, a 37 inch waist puts them at 80 percent higher risk of death than women with a 27.5 inch waist.

The estimated decrease in life expectancy for highest versus lowest waist circumference was approximately 3 years for men and approximately 5 years for women.


Longer  life, lower fares …. think about it.



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