Editorial columns are generally polarizing, but one writer for the Daily Mail seemed to intentionally drum up controversy when she argued airplanes should charge overweight people more. In her column, “Why fat people should be charged more to fly: It’s not fair for thin people to suffer through the age of the supersize traveler,” writer Julia Stephenson threw all tact aside when advocating for an airline fat tax.
Referencing her experiences flying with “gargantuan” plane neighbors, Julia said she’s felt like “the wafer-thin filling in a human sandwich” and once feared she “might suffocate.” She added, “As far as I am concerned, we need to stop being PC and let people take responsibility for themselves.” So, Julia suggested airlines should start charging people by weight, as is done with luggage. “I was livid last year when I was made to pay excess baggage costs because my case was a fraction over the allowance,” she said. “How could this be fair when the woman behind me – at least 17 st – paid nothing extra because she had a smaller suitcase? What good is traveling light if you’re tipping the scales in the wrong direction?”
Julia spoke with several people who agreed with her, including her friend who works as a stewardess for American Airlines, who said, “Passengers are getting so fat, we’ll soon be able to give up using tray tables and they can just use their stomachs.” Another friend told Julia, “If I had to pay more for a seat on a flight, I’d eat more healthily. No one is going to lose weight if the rest of us pretend they don’t have a problem.”
However, as people noted in the comments, Julia’s argument didn’t make sense in one big way: How would charging an overweight person more for a single seat make Julia’s flying experience any more enjoyable? As one person put it, “Even if they charge fat people extra you won’t get a discount for being slim & you’ll still end up sitting next to them.” What’s more, as a final note in her column, Julia referenced Samoa Air, which instituted a “pay by weight” system in 2013. What she overlooked or didn’t mention is that Samoa Air now seems to be defunct…so she might want to think her position through a bit better.