The former chief economist at Qantas thinks it's about time that airlines charged heavier people more for plane tickets as a matter of policy. "The rationale is simple," writes Tony Webber in the Sydney Morning Herald. "The fuel burnt by planes depends on many things but the most important is the weight of the aircraft. The more a plane weighs, the more fuel it must burn." This kind of fat tax may seem discriminatory, but it's sound business practice, he argues.
Webber advocates setting a standard weight (he suggests 165 pounds) and then charging people a certain amount per pound that they exceed it. Conversely, those under the limit would get a "petite" discount. Of course, this would mean weighing passengers at check-in, perhaps together with their luggage, and he acknowledges that the idea "won't be easy to implement." But as people get fatter and fuel gets more expensive, he predicts low-budget airlines will adopt the idea before long. (AFP surveys airlines in Australia, including Qantas, and gets a resounding "no thanks" to the idea.)