10.4.13

FREIGHT TARIFFS ARE CALCULATED IN HUNDREDWEIGHTS.

Soon, too, might airline passenger tariffs be?
Samoa Air is the first airline to adopt what many others are no doubt contemplating: charging per pound. They actually weigh you at the check-in counter.

Oh — the horror. You already take off your belt, shoes, sweater and coat. You get felt up by strangers. You get ordered into the naked body scanner.

Now this.

A pay-what-you-weigh pricing plan: 93 cents for every 2.2 pounds of your luggage — plus you. It’s like the post office: The heavier the package, the more you pay.

But wait: I just learned that 
Samoans are even fatter than mainland Americans. Only a third of us, so far, are actually obese, compared with 75 percent of American Samoans — who are U.S. citizens, though at 55,000, there aren’t enough of them to tip the nation’s statistical scales.

And teeny tiny Samoa Air flies teeny tiny planes. Ever fly one of those teeny tiny Cape Air planes to Hyannis or New Hampshire, look around at six or seven supersized passengers and wonder, in panic, Can we get off the ground?

Did the pilot get a gander at that side-by-side refrigerator in 2A?

So I’m down with Samoa Air. Liftoff is everything.
I see the potential for a startup, should such pricing diffuse to the major carriers: an airline that flies only planes with bigger-than-first-class seats, at a flat rate that makes the large passengers strictly prefer flying that airline, rather than pay by the pound to get onto a standard airplane. It's not going to be a pure separating equilibrium, however, a plane with fewer seats can be loaded and unloaded through the one door more expeditiously. Almost as expeditiously, in fact, as getting thirteen bulls off the circus train.

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