Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Samoa airline begins pay-by-weight

A small airline is offering a new reason to lose weight before your next holiday - tickets will be sold not by the seat but by the kilogram.

Samoa Air has started pricing its international flights based on the weight of its passengers and their bags.

Depending on the flight, each kilogram (2.2lb) costs 93 cents (61p) to 1.06 dollars (70p).

That means the average man weighing 195lb with a 35lb bag would pay 97 dollars (£64) to go one-way between Apia, Samoa, and Pago Pago, American Samoa. Competitors typically charge 130 dollars (£86) to 140 dollars (£92) round-trip for similar routes.

The weight-based pricing is not new to the airline, which launched in June. It has been using the pricing model since November, but in January the US department of transportation approved its international route between American Samoa and Samoa.

The airline's chief executive Chris Langton said "planes are run by weight and not by seat, and travellers should be educated on this important issue. The plane can only carry a certain amount of weight and that weight needs to be paid. There is no other way".

Travellers in the region are already weighed before they fly because the planes used between the islands are small, said David Vaeafe, executive director of the American Samoa visitors bureau. Samoa Air's fleet includes two nine-seat planes for commercial routes and a three-seater for an air taxi service.

Mr Langton said passengers who need more room will be given one row on the plane to ensure comfort.

The new pricing system would make Samoa Air the first to charge strictly by weight, a change that Mr Vaeafe said is "in many ways... a fair concept for passengers". He added: "For example, a 12 or 13-year-old passenger, who is small in size and weight, won't have to pay an adult fare, based on airline fares that anyone 12 years and older does pay the adult fare."

Mr Vaeafe said the pricing system has worked in Samoa but it is not clear whether it will be embraced by travellers in the US territory. Mr Langton said the airline has received mixed responses from overseas travellers since it began promoting the pricing on its website and Facebook page.

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