Will overweight passengers be forced to pay for two seats?
Online PR News – 22-January-2010 – – Erroneous reports in the British tabloid media this week stated that French flag carrier, Air France, will force overweight flyers to pay for two seats, or they will be prevented from boarding for 'safety reasons'.
However, Air France has officially denied the accusation, stating on their website that ‘Air France has no intention of making heavier passengers pay for a second seat.’
Since 2005, Air France has been offering heavier passengers the possibility of purchasing a second seat at a 25% discount, to enhance their own comfort and safety.
The only recent change to Air France’s policy on overweight passengers is to refund passengers the cost of the second seat, if the cabin is not fully booked.
The possibility of a “Fat Tax” for airline passengers is a frequently debated issue, with many flyers feeling that very overweight passengers should pay for an extra seat, if they are invading the space of neighbouring travellers.
Ryanair has previously flirted with the idea following a survey that revealed one third of their passengers were in favour of such a move. However, despite the budget airline regularly introducing new routes and additional cheap flights this policy has not yet come into fruition.
Barry Smith, Skyscanner co-founder and director commented:
“Any ruling that alienates obese passengers is likely to deter them from booking with that airline. On the flip side, some airlines may start specifically targeting the overweight sector, by offering wider – but probably more expensive – seating options.”
Though Americans are typically perceived to be the world’s most overweight people, according to the World Health Organisation, it is in fact Nauru, the world’s smallest island nation that bears this unwanted title, with 94.5% of the population classified as overweight.
The UK ranks as the 28th fattest country in the world with 63.8% of the population classified as overweight.
Ironically, if Air France were to ever bring in such a rule, it would be unlikely to affect French travellers as much as other nations; France ranks 128th in the ‘fat index’ with ‘only’ 40.1% of the population overweight. So flyers on flights to Paris needn’t worry about the French passengers invading their space.
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