Matt’s previously advocated a fat tax, but really he was talking about a tax on unhealthy food. Now United Airlines has decided to tax people for just being big: if you’re too big to fit in one seat then you’ll have to buy two. There are two reasons why they get large people to pay more:
- Large people cost more in fuel to fly.
- Large people bother other passengers by encroaching on their space.
I’m totally fine with people paying their way, but this seems a bit extreme. I have to side with William Saletan at Slate here in suggesting that they could have gone about their pricing scheme a little better. Basically, they’re missing out on revenue from all those people who are too big for one seat but unwilling to pay for two. They’re also likely to enrage a lot of people through their stance.
Why could they not introduce a section with wider seats that cost more to alleviate the second problem? Or charge a premium to heavier people to solve the second problem? Of course I don’t know about all the practical details of airline pricing, but it seems like they could have made more money and less fuss by going about it in a slightly less extreme fashion.