I have one major travel gripe in life. Those who know me personally, know how I feel on the subject below. For those who don’t, read on…
Ever have this happen to you?
After a night spent of packing, agonizing what to bring or not, you arrive at the airport only to hear your luggage is overweight. Overweight by only a few pounds maybe, not nonetheless, overweight. Now on top of the $25 fee for the right to check a bag, you will be charged extra $75 because you decided to bring a few extra outfits. At the next counter, someone triple your size is checking in. They don’t have to pay a dime more. ARGHHH.
Let’s think about this.
The average woman in America is 5’3.8″ tall and weighs approximately 135lbs. For our purposes, passenger #1 will be of average female height and size. Add on the 50 pound baggage limit, a few extra pounds for overweight luggage and we have 190lbs worth of fuel the passenger will be using. Next to her, is a larger woman checking in weighing closer to 240 pounds, passenger #2. Now add in #2’s luggage and we are hovering just under to 300lb weight marker. Even if passenger #2 flies solely with a carry on weighing 20 pounds, she is still utilizing 70lbs more worth of fuel.
Costs passed on to passengers:
Passenger 1, 190lbs: $345 plane ticket + $25 checked bag fee + $75 overweight luggage fees= $445
Passenger 2, 260lbs: $345 plane ticket + $25 check bag fee= $370
The whole reason airlines slap us with fees for our baggage and extra weight is the added fuel costs associated with the said extra weight. It doesn’t seem to make much sense at all to then base the charges off of baggage. As shown above, someone who is creating more fuel costs due to weight, is actually paying less. Clearly, ticket and weight charges should be based off of total weight- you and your bag. For every ticket purchased, the ticket holder is given an allotted weight.
No, I don’t expect or want the airlines to make you get on a scale in front of everyone to even further the embarrassment encountered at the airports these days. Between the full body screenings and risque pat downs, one’s body privacy is already pushed to the limit. I think there should be a large scale, similar to the one already used for weighing baggage. Both the passenger and their luggage can then be weighed at the same time. That way, the actual weight of the person or luggage is not known, nor matters. All that does, is if the total sum of their parts are above or below the allotted weight limit. However the passenger fills this limit is up to them.
While the above comparison is based on average weight and height, I understand that a large number of people fall above this line. I am not proposing that the allotted weight per ticket be only 200lbs- a majority of people would be paying extra at the check-in counter and, I imagine, be quite hostile at the arrangement. Men, by nature, are heavier and taller than women and this too would be unfair. I don’t have any scientific reasoning behind my assumption, but I think 265lbs would be a fair limit. This number is far above the average weights for both men (190 lbs) and women (135 lbs) in the United States and allows for the standard 50lb baggage allotment plus some extra. Of course, not everyone will have their weight plus the weight of their baggage fall under this limit, but that’s not the point.
People will be angry. But people were angry when airlines first implemented checked bag fees. Now, when I walk into an airport, I don’t blink twice at the extra $25. The fury, as with most initial upsets, has died down. Checked bag fees are now just another inconvenience of domestic travel. People who are extremely tall, muscular or heavy will not be pleased. Well sorry, Charlie. Fact of the matter is, you take up more fuel. I spend more altering clothing to fit because I’m short. It’s just the way of life, so deal. Fair and square, it’s pretty simple. MOST people, more than the average amount of people in fact, will fall within this weight limit.
I think that implementing such a policy would actually benefit both travelers and the airlines in many ways. With the rise of the checked baggage fee came the carry-on boom. How many times do you walk onto a flight only to find, there is no room for your carry on. Carry on luggage has gotten bigger and bigger- evolving from a bag to carry only your most valuable or immediately needed positions to your only bag for that two week trip. After paying X amount of dollars for their flight, few passengers want to pay an extra $25 just to check a bag. Why would you when you can just bring it on the plane and pay nothing. Cabins are more crowded, people have less space and the airlines have accomplished nothing in their scheme to make more money. Instead by incorporating a weight allotment, people would be more inclined to check the bags they did not need during flight because they would not have to pay more to do so. With no more waiting for passengers to try and squeeze in there carry on somewhere, more flights could even take off on time! For those passengers who really did decide to take the whole closet, they’ll be charged. The proposed weight limits does not allow for excessive baggage weight. More money for the airlines. Additionally, while most travelers balk at the extra fee, if a ticket went on sale for $325 instead of $300, I doubt many less people would purchase.
By incorporating weight into a ticket everyone wins. The airlines can guarantee an increased revenue, cabin space will be freed, and I for one, will on longer be disgruntled over the fact that I just paid $75 for an extra few pairs of shoes.