Obese people paying more for seats

A relatively new form of price premium to a particular group is new rules for “people of size” levied by Texas-based no-frills flier Southwest Airlines. Customers who are too fat to lower the seat armrest are required to pay for a second seat. The rules state clearly that two obese people travelling together may not share an extra seat – each must pay their own surcharge. A detailed advice section on the Southwest website warns customers that airports tend to be public places and advises large customers to avoid embarrassment by buying two seats just in case — the second seat will be refunded if they are able to lower the armrest on the plane!

Tony Cram, Smarter Pricing


Lol “people of size”. I have always toyed with such a proposal, but never thought that an airline would actually implement it. Not sure if this is outdated though.

I like Southwest Airlines. They are innovative, accommodating, and value-for-money.

This is quite smart – on the grounds that there are fewer morbidly obese people than non-obese people. You may lose some obese customers, but this will appeal to the larger market who has some sense of fairness (not to mention fear of ending up next to an obese person for a long-haul flight).

Then again, they are based in Texas – and might lose more market share than we expect.


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