Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Ryanair may charge a ‘fat tax’ for its overweight passengers

First there was the ‘wee fee’, then the charge for the privilege of checking-in, now it seems budget airline Ryanair has finally tipped the scales by announcing it is considering a fat tax.

Yes, that’s right, a fat tax.

The budget airline (and more largely — pardon the pun — its boss Michael O’Leary) has never really concerned itself with political correctness when it comes to brash promotions, and it would seem this latest headline-grabbing idea is no different.

According to the airline, it was you, the consumer, who voted for this fat tax on its website after it launched a competition giving customers the chance to win free flights by coming up with strange new ideas to save or make the company money.

Around 100,000 passengers took part in the online competition and of those 30,000 (29%) voted for a fee for overweight passengers.

A quarter voted to charge €1 for toilet paper — with Mr O’Leary’s face on it — and 24% voted to pay €3 to smoke in a converted toilet cubicle.

As a result of the response to the so-called fat tax, Ryanair says it was now seriously considering implementing it.

But for those who are only slightly overweight, do not fear, airline bosses have assured the tax — if implemented — will only apply “to those really large passengers who invade the space of the passengers sitting beside them”.

There was no mention of Ryanair making seats larger.

But, just when you thought they couldn’t possibly take this any further, there’s more.

The company needs customers’ help to figure out how to charge the fat tax and its offering the following options:

  • Charge per kg over 130kg/20 stone (male) and 100kg/15 stone (females).
  • Charge per inch for every waist inch over 45 inch (male) and 40 inch (female).
  • Charge for every point in excess of 40 points on the Body Mass Index (+30 points is obese).
  • Charge for a second seat if passengers’ waist touches both armrests simultaneously.

Stephen McNamara, spokesman for Ryanair, explained the four options being offered appeared to be the most “simplest”.

“With passengers voting overwhelmingly for a fat tax, we are now asking them to suggest which format the charge should take,” he said.

“The four points seem to us to be the simplest, fairest and administratively easiest to apply.

“In all cases we’ve limits at very high levels so that a fat tax will only apply to those really large passengers who invade the space of the passengers sitting beside them.

“These charges, if introduced, might also act as an incentive to some of our very large passengers to lose a little weight and hopefully feel a little lighter and healthier.”

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