Norwegian professor says obese travelers should pay 'fat tax'

Professor says overweight passengers generate higher costs for airlines

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A professor out of Norway is stirring up some controversy over his report that airlines should start charging a "fat tax" for obese travelers.

Under a plan suggested by Dr. Bharat P. Bhatta, heavier passengers would pay more for their plane tickets and lighter ones would pay less.

Writing in this month's Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management publication, Dr. Bhatta said weight and space should be taken into account when airlines price their tickets.

POLL: Should airlines use your weight to determine the cost of your ticket?

Bhatta put together what he describes as three workable models:

Fare according to actual weight: Charging passengers according to how much they, and their belongings weigh, fixing a rate for pound per passenger so that a person weighing 130 pounds pays half the airfare of a 260 pound person.

Base fare' minus or plus an extra charge: This option involves charging a fixed base rate, with an additional charge for heavier passengers to cover the extra costs. Every passenger could have a different fare according to this option.

Same fare if the passenger has an average weight, but discounted/extra fare for low/excess weight below/above a certain limit: This option results in three types of fares: high fares, average fares and low fares.

Bhatta said, "Charging according to weight and space is a universally accepted principle, not only in transportation, but also in other services. As weight and space are far more important in aviation than other modes of transport, airlines should take this into account when pricing their tickets."

Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management editor Dr, Ian Yeoman said, "For airlines, every extra pound means more expensive jet fuel must be burned, which leads to CO2 emissions and financial cost."

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