Even as I glanced at the headline, I thought to myself, "I have discussed this somewhere." The headline was this: An American airline wins the right to weigh passengers on its Samoan route.
I spent a couple of minutes thinking about where it was ... and then it came to me. It was the blog that this lazy business-focused guy has stopped working on. I tracked down his post and my own comment as well.
The other day, I told students in one class that understanding the world, which is what learning is about, is to a large extent nothing but conversations--with those around us, with authors of texts that we read, with speakers we watch, and--heck--even with Socrates. So, along those lines, I suppose this post is a continuation of the conversation from three years ago ;)
First a recap of the issues for those who are jumping into the conversation without any idea of what happened: "Samoa Air in 2013 became the first airline to charge passengers by weight." That was what the retired businessman had blogged about in joy. Since then, Hawaiian Airlines came to the same idea of weighing the Samoan passengers:
The problem for Hawaiian Airlines began when the carrier discovered it was burning through more fuel than anticipated on its route between Honolulu and the small Pacific island territory of American Samoa, according to reporting by the Associated Press. The airline ruled out explanations like strong winds and decided to conduct a voluntary survey among its passengers on the route. The results were clear: passengers and their carry-on luggage were, on average, 30 pounds (14 kilograms) heavier than expected.Now, if Samoans weighed only as much as the sports-maniac did, then nothing to worry about. But, Samoans "have among the highest rates of obesity in the world."
So Hawaiian Airlines instituted a new policy. People flying between Honolulu and American Samoa would no longer be able to select their seats before arriving at the airport. Instead, they would be assigned seats when they checked in so that the carrier could distribute their weight evenly around the plane.
Three years ago, my comment was this:
Hmmm ... you should be happy that you are not in the US--by now, a lawyer would have sued for a pound of flesh from you. Oh wait, you don't have a pound on you!!!Well ... in a way, yes, this Hawaiian Airlines decision did not go unnoticed. The people complained that:
Hawaiian’s decision is discriminatory because it applies only to that one route, most of whose passengers are Samoan or of Samoan descent.How do you think that the U.S. Department of Transportation ruled on this? I will leave it to you infer that from the headline of the article ;)
One of the comments in response to the article is interesting:
As a small person who has been subsidizing large people on airline flights forever, all I can say is get over it. You've had it lucky for years. A truly just and equitable system would be to charge everyone by total weight (body plus luggage). We seem to accept that principle for freight. Well, that's what we all are, human freight.We are human freight? It is one heck of a strange world in which we live. Am reminded of the Brazil minister's response to the notorious memo authored by Larry Summers back when he was the World Bank's chief economist: " reasoning is perfectly logical but totally insane." Hey, that's another memory recall; how about that! ;)