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Today there is a growing awareness that business-as-usual corporate and lifestyle practices jeopardize the health of the planet and the ability of future generations to sustain a good quality of life. Awareness in turn has created a confusing array of sustainability-oriented decisions. The Greenophobe takes a skeptical, practical, informed look at a variety of sustainability topics. Explore a mix of common sense solutions and in-depth discussions that demystify how to live green and live well.

02 April 2013

Introducing FatAir - the world's first weight-based passenger airline ticket

In addition to causing pain at the gas pump, volatile fuel costs are causing a revolution in passenger air travel pricing. 

April 2, 2013 -- CNN's Erin Burnett reports on Out Front that Samoa Airlines has become the world's first passenger airline to implement a fare based on a passenger's body weight and baggage weight combined. The weight-based fare is the latest in a series of airline pricing grabs aimed at covering rising fuel costs. Spirit Airlines made headlines and raised tempers with travelers in 2012 by announcing a $100 fee for carry-on bags. Around the same time, United implemented a record high $100 fee for the second checked bag on transatlantic flights. As usual, the other big carriers followed suit with their own maze of increased fees.

Samoa Airlines' weight-based fares boldly reinforce a growing trend. From healthcare costs to food prices, consumers are increasingly picking up the bill for systemic sustainability problems that went unnoticed in the bygone days of cheap energy and strong economic growth. The immense threat posed by long-term impacts such as climate change historically has little to no impact on business. Weight-based fares may be the first of many near term pricing strategies that finally motivate changes in the way we address our global fossil fuel addiction.

The unprecedented intensity of these new fee models means that shopping for the lowest fare becomes riskier and more complicated for consumers. For example, the impact of today's bag fees can easily double the cost of a domestic airline ticket. Consumers must expend additional effort to carefully compare fare policies and compute fees while shopping around.

Triple digit airline baggage fees are simply an indirect surcharge on fuel -- last ditch fees designed to postpone the destruction of airlines' financial health as oil prices fluctuate, trending ever higher.
The New York Times reports that fuel costs will cause airlines' profits to drop 62 percent this year. Also according to The Times, fuel costs now exceed 30 percent of airline operating costs. Carriers are doing radical things including