Ryanair has an airline that’s giving it a run for its money—on being the worst airline ever! Uzbekistan Airways announced they would weigh its passengers pre-flight to determine the average weight of passengers and their carry-on luggage. They claim it is to aid the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in research for flight safety. I say that is complete rubbish and this new weigh in is just an excuse.
I am not the only one that calls this out as rubbish. CNN reported that the IATA has no such request and that the airline is not required to provide this information to them. In fact, the Manager of IATA corporate communications explained they issue formulas for airlines to calculate the average weight a passenger adds to a plane, including values for adults vs. kids. They even change these numbers to the season, presumably to account for heavier clothes.
Apparently, Uzbekistan Airways’s new fattist policy will direct their passengers to a weigh in station at the departure gate. But I say, why not just have it in the security line? After all, it’s the least they can do, as the passengers will already have their shoes off!
If this were about implementing a pay as you weigh structure, Uzbekistan Airways wouldn’t be the first ones to institute one. Samoa Air has been doing it since 2012. Their chief executive is non-apologetic about it, too. The page even says, “A kilo is a kilo is a kilo.” They are proud of the fact that they use real weights because “Real weights are for real people..[Stet].”
Being overweight myself (What? I’m big boned!) and flying a lot for business, I am likely to be a little more sensitive about this policy. I suppose I can count myself lucky I don’t have cause to fly Uzbekistan Airways or Samoa air.
A weigh in policy is the height of insensitivity. This policy is just another form of discrimination. We say, and rightly so, that race, ethnicity, sex, and disability should not be discriminated against. So why is it okay to discriminate based on weight? It’s fattist, a term coined by Amanda Platell on the Daily Mail a few years back. In the same column she describes fat people as having “a lack of self-control and even less self-respect.”
Let’s be clear, weighing passengers before boarding is clearly the thin end of the wedge. After all, why should it stop at body weight? If airlines need to introduce more obnoxious policies to make money why not add fees for bad flight behavior? Like a toddler-kicking-a-seat fee? Or a body-odor fee? Arm-rest-hogging fee? And don’t get me started on those people who use the bathroom a lot!
Of course, I am joking, as none of these fees are okay. My point is airlines with these types of policies are not customer-focused, but operationally focused. We call it an inside-out focus instead of outside in. Inside out means the airline thinks about what’s best for them in how they provide their flight experience. Outside in means the airline thinks about how to provide things that are best for the Customer.
It’s the height of an inside-out focus to charge passengers based on their weight. It’s simply bad manners, as my mum would have said. Treating passengers with respect is an important key to any person’s experience with an airline. I think we can all agree that paying more for being “big boned” lacks respect.
What do you think? Is it okay to be fattist? Should airlines charge you based on weight? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments below.
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Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX