Samoa Air is the first airline to base its airfare on weight.
The news is all over this story, especially after Dr. Bharat P Bhatta’s study was published (see, my last post “As if the Skies Aren’t Unfriendly Enough for My Fat Ass”)
So I went online to see what was going on with Samoa Air – turns out Samoa Air flies Britten Norman (BN2A) series and Cessna (172) aircraft.
The Britten Norman (BN2A) series carries up to 11 people (including the crew). Empty the plane weights 3,675 pounds and its maximum takeoff weight is 6,600 pounds – for a net weight for people and luggage of 2,925. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britten-Norman_Islander
The Cessna 172 is even smaller. It can carry up to 4 people (including the crew). Empty the plane weighs 1,691 pounds, and its maximum weight is 2,450 pounds – for a net of 791 pounds. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cessna_172
The loads these planes can carry are very limited and not distributing the weight correctly in small planes can lead to very dangerous situations. These planes are also flying from island to island – over a lot of open water, so if something goes wrong, your options for emergency landing will be more limited.
In other words, Samoa Air is not your typical airline. In fact, it’s not much of an “airline” at all.
In fact, according to The Huffington Post
“Air Samoa typically serves domestic routes, and other Pacific destinations such as American Samoa, North Cook Islands and French Polynesia using two aircraft: a Britten-Norman BN2A Islander twin-engine and a Cessna 172 single engine propeller plane.”
This “airline” has two planes. Two small planes. Two “puddle jumpers”.
Just look at the photos – when is the last time you flew on an airline that had sheepskin seat covers? It appears that most of the “seats” are bench type – not separate seats. It is operating in an area and region with equipment that creates fairly unique circumstances. They are creating a policy from a safety-necessity and trying to make it beneficial for both the airline and its passengers.
But you’d never know that looking at all the news articles, would you? Many of the articles (and the accompanying photos) make you think that Samoa Air is the same as Air France or Alaska Airlines. And it doesn’t help that the CEO for Samoa Air, Chris Langton, says he believed his airline’s new payment policy was helping to promote health and obesity awareness. What a crock. I suppose he’s enjoying all the attention and doesn’t want to have to admit that his fleet is two small planes which are more susceptible to problems due to weight
If I have to get on a very small plane, I would like to know that the weight limits of the aircraft are recognized and accounted for, and if that means you have to weigh my fat ass to make sure we all stay in the air, I understand. Just like before I buy a ladder, I’m going to check on the weight capacity. I’m fat, I’m not stupid.
And if I don’t want to be weighed, then I won’t fly Samoa Air – I’ll fly on Virgin Samoa with a fleet that includes: Airbus A330-200 (maximum takeoff weight 513,671); ATR72 (maximum takeoff weight 50,705), Boeing 737-700 (maximum takeoff weight 154,500), Boeing 737-800 (maximum takeoff weight 174,200), Boeing 777-300ER (maximum takeoff weight 775,000) and Embraer 190 (maximum take-off weight 114,199).
Now if Virgin Samoa wants to weigh my fat ass, they better be prepared to kiss it (and my money) goodbye.