LH707330
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Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:29 pm

This ANZ weight pricing policy was posted as an April fool's joke, but it seems to be cropping up again, as in this article, in which "Rolls-Royce has calculated that if every passenger lost 1kg in weight, it would save the airline industry a total of approximately $1 billion per year in fuel costs." I've been thinking about this issue for a while in terms of economic issues (free rider problem, product differentiation, etc), and have the following idea that I wanted to bounce off other a.nutters.

You start an airline (most likely an LCC) with a ticket price based on seat size and passenger gross weight (PGW). Humans are not homogeneous, and deviations from "the average passenger" are disadvantaged for some reason. Small people without luggage are cross-subsidizing heavier pax, tall pax have legroom issues, wide pax don't fit in seats, etc. The solution, as I see it, is to price the two variables (cabin space and weight) accordingly to prevent free ridership and allow pax to buy what they need. During booking, pax buy the following:

Seat pitch: 30" or 32" (slimline)
Width: 17" or 20" (wide A320 aisle seats)
kg price (PGW)

If you show up and are under your weight, you get refunded at the kg rate you bought your ticket at. If you're over, you pay the day of travel rate x delta. This incentivizes everyone to budget their travel weight properly and go to the restroom pre-boarding, etc.

As I see it, this will eliminate a few problems, but potentially create others. On net, it's difficult to see how these would balance.

Pros:
-Lighter average pax: 50 kg passengers will get cheaper tickets (no more cross-subsidies of heavy pax) and flock to your carrier, allowing you to carry more freight or save fuel.
-Fewer bin issues: due to bag fees, people bring heavy roll-ons to avoid the charge, slowing down boarding. Gross weight pricing will leave them relatively ambivalent and speed up boarding, reducing turn times
-Tall/wide pax are better off than F/C: a small premium for a wider seat or longer pitch in Y and 30 kg over average is still cheaper than getting an F/C ticket or a second seat

Cons:
Controversy: some people might get upset at the concept.
Business travelers: Many people traveling on business are adult men, who are heavier on average. If there is a significant delta at the 80-100 kg PGW point, they may get their high fare tickets elsewhere

Thoughts? What other considerations am I ignoring here?
 
sw733
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:45 pm

In the USA, the ACLU would go crazy and call this discrimination. The politicians, in an effort to always keep their jobs, would agree. You would also run in to disabled people with more weight, both physically and through other equipment they would need to carry and travel with, that would claim discrimination. Sometimes, excessive weight gain can be something the person has little to no control over. The airline would be in trouble.

That's my opinion.
 
cytz_pilot
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:56 pm

Interesting topic. The more I think about it, it just seems like sure, it's one of those ideas that would have many pros, but the complexity of implementing it would be an absolute nightmare.

Right now, if you have only a carry on, you can check in at home and go straight to security. You wouldn't be able to do that in this case (having to line up to be weighed), meaning airlines may have to increase the number of check-in staff available. When you arrive at the airport, you must be weighed, where airline agents (or possibly other passengers) can see your weight. Like it or not, some people would take real issue with that (possibly annoying more people away from flying, affecting sales). And when they're weighed, what if the weight is different than what the passenger expects? Maybe the scales are crooked, or the passenger has gained weight but didn't know until now. Now you have the passenger in a foul mood which could certainly be taken out on the staff that is doing the weighing (increased security needed?). There's so many variables, it's hard to know what the true costs are.

Quoting LH707330 (Thread starter):
"Rolls-Royce has calculated that if every passenger lost 1kg in weight, it would save the airline industry a total of approximately $1 billion per year in fuel costs."

I believe they're just giving those numbers as a base for comparison. You could also it turn around and say that the airline industry must be thankful that their passengers are the weight they are (and not 1kg heavier).
 
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AirlineCritic
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:21 pm

Weighing the passengers would create a hassle at the airport, and require some new equipment. And you couldn't guarantee that shortly after being weighed, they wouldn't stuff their pockets again full of power supplies, batteries, books, and climbing gear. I know I would.
 
Gemuser
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:26 pm

What a great idea! To boost Amtrak's business 1000%!

Gemuser
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roseflyer
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:51 pm

It sounds good on paper since heavier people result in higher fuel burn, the delta cost difference between passengers is not that big. Most costs are sunk in operating a flight. The airplane, the crew, maintenance, fuel for the empty plane, etc are the majority of the cost. When divided by the number of passengers, fuel burn is significant, however if you look at how much extra fuel is burned because of another passenger, it is only dollars. A fare of $500 for a lightweight person and $510 for a heavy person serves no practical benefit other than discriminating against heavier people and inciting drama.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
 
LH707330
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:26 pm

Quoting SW733 (Reply 1):
In the USA, the ACLU would go crazy and call this discrimination. The politicians, in an effort to always keep their jobs, would agree. You would also run in to disabled people with more weight, both physically and through other equipment they would need to carry and travel with, that would claim discrimination. Sometimes, excessive weight gain can be something the person has little to no control over. The airline would be in trouble.

I agree that some people have little control over their weight. At 1.91m (6'3") and 86 kg (190 lb) I fall into that bucket and would be perfectly willing to pay my fair share, the same way I pay more for food because I eat more (use more, pay more). I fail to understand how paying for what one uses, irrespective of one's control over it, constitutes discrimination, but I do suspect that the US government would have something negative to say regardless.

Quoting AirlineCritic (Reply 3):
Weighing the passengers would create a hassle at the airport, and require some new equipment. And you couldn't guarantee that shortly after being weighed, they wouldn't stuff their pockets again full of power supplies, batteries, books, and climbing gear. I know I would.

Just have a scale in front of the jetway: you walk over it right as they scan your boarding card.

Quoting Roseflyer (Reply 5):
A fare of $500 for a lightweight person and $510 for a heavy person serves no practical benefit other than discriminating against heavier people and inciting drama.


If that's the case, then I agree, but I'm inclined to think there's a bigger delta than that, not just because of fuel burn, but because of other stuff you could have been transporting. If you assume you're going out near MSP, 100 pax that each add 10 kg is a ton of cargo left on the ground. How much revenue would the airline be leaving behind under those circumstances?
 
roseflyer
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:31 pm

Quoting LH707330 (Reply 6):
If that's the case, then I agree, but I'm inclined to think there's a bigger delta than that, not just because of fuel burn, but because of other stuff you could have been transporting. If you assume you're going out near MSP, 100 pax that each add 10 kg is a ton of cargo left on the ground. How much revenue would the airline be leaving behind under those circumstances?

It doesn't matter what an individual passenger weighs since it is all based on average passenger weight. All passengers are assumed to be 190lbs in the summer and 195lbs in the winter including carryon luggage, so cargo is not being left behind if a heavier passenger gets on board.

The calculations aren't that accurate, and I don't know of anything in the industry moving towards having to weight every passenger for more accurate weight and balance. The FAA heavily reviewed passenger weights and changed them after the Air Midwest crash in 2003.

[Edited 2012-06-18 16:32:31]
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
 
trex8
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:36 pm

If I mail something or send it by air or ground freight I pay by weight/size! Why not people!

Reminds me years ago we were driving near LAX and my dad saw a sign which said something like helicopter ride $5 (0r something) So we stopped as he thought this was a great deal. It was $5 for every 10 lbs of your weight!!
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:31 am

Quoting SW733 (Reply 1):

In the USA, the ACLU would go crazy and call this discrimination.

I think you misunderstand what the ACLU is there for...they only defend violations of the Bill of Rights. There's nothing discriminatory about applying the same policy to everyone. The Bill Of Rights is also only binding on the government, not airlines.

Tom.
 
LAXDESI
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:35 am

On a 4,000 nm trip, a person weighing 80 lbs. more than average weight would end up burning 18 gallons more fuel on a B788. So the additional fuel cost is around $55, or about $0.70 per pound on a 4,000 nm trip..

One could also look at the lost revenue of transporting 80 lbs. of additional cargo on the above trip as a proxy for additional cost due to heavier passengers.

If fares by weight were to be introduced, in which country is it more likely to happen first?
 
PPVRA
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:01 am

You are focusing too much on operating costs while ignoring fixed costs, which are a huge deal for airlines and are not affected by how heavy a pax is. You are also focusing on covering the costs of a certain pax, while not giving thought to determining the value of a seat.

Now, implementing this idea for luggage may be a good idea. .

Quoting LH707330 (Thread starter):
-Lighter average pax: 50 kg passengers will get cheaper tickets (no more cross-subsidies of heavy pax) and flock to your carrier, allowing you to carry more freight or save fuel.

This assumes your competition doesn't adopt this model. If they do, the average pax will be just as fat.
"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
 
LH707330
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:20 am

Quoting Roseflyer (Reply 7):
It doesn't matter what an individual passenger weighs since it is all based on average passenger weight.

If you get exact weights, can you take extra cargo, or is that a regulatory issue?

Quoting ppvra (Reply 11):
You are focusing too much on operating costs while ignoring fixed costs, which are a huge deal for airlines and are not affected by how heavy a pax is. You are also focusing on covering the costs of a certain pax, while not giving thought to determining the value of a seat.

Perhaps I was unclear with my idea: you would pay a base fare for the seat that covers the fixed costs, and a per kg price for weight.

Quoting ppvra (Reply 11):
This assumes your competition doesn't adopt this model. If they do, the average pax will be just as fat.

Unless all the competitors do it, you get a net lighter pax load. By aligning the incentives to the cost, you're most likely to see a reduction.

Quoting LAXDESI (Reply 10):
One could also look at the lost revenue of transporting 80 lbs. of additional cargo on the above trip as a proxy for additional cost due to heavier passengers.

What's the average rate for a ton of cargo, just out of curiosity?
 
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lightsaber
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 3:00 am

Quoting trex8 (Reply 8):

If I mail something or send it by air or ground freight I pay by weight/size! Why not people!

I'm ok with that. And if there isn't a base fare for the seats, my two young kids will fly practically for free!

Quoting gemuser (Reply 4):
What a great idea! To boost Amtrak's business 1000%!

As long as time has no value.

Quoting LH707330 (Reply 6):
I fail to understand how paying for what one uses, irrespective of one's control over it, constitutes discrimination, but I do suspect that the US government would have something negative to say regardless.

They could say something, but an airline could market itself well. Its all about young women. If all the young women are flying one airline, everyone else will follow (as per the "Starbucks rule of marketing"). This rule would cater to them... and small clothing.  

Lightsaber
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PPVRA
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:02 am

Quoting LH707330 (Reply 12):
Perhaps I was unclear with my idea: you would pay a base fare for the seat that covers the fixed costs, and a per kg price for weight.

So essentially, keep the current system but give the pax a small refund based on his weight or, if he has excessive "luggage", charge him a penalty fee?

It's still complex and will certainly be frowned upon, but if we look at what Southwest et al are already doing, if you are too heavy they make you buy two seats. . . so what you are proposing is really, in a sense and to an extent, already in place.
"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
 
DLD9S
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:13 am

So passengers would not know the final cost of flights till at the gate while boarding the flight?

I know how much I weigh now, but I don't know what I will weigh on the Sunday after Thanksgiving after eating all weekend... not to mention I might be wearing a big winter coat or t-shirt and shorts depending on the weather.

Also, would the cost of processing possibly 10s of thousands of refunds a day be a bit tough to manage and budget for?
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phxa340
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:17 am

Quoting AirlineCritic (Reply 3):
Weighing the passengers would create a hassle at the airport, and require some new equipment.

China Airlines made me and my friend stand on the bag scale at LAX while checking in for our Tapei flight - no joke. I have no idea why and when I pushed back , they basically presented it as company policy. After weighing us, sure enough - people in line had to be weighed in as well.

Anyone know why ?
 
Gemuser
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:37 am

Quoting lightsaber (Reply 13):

As long as time has no value.

Not quite true. As long as time has MORE value than peoples self esteem.

I would expect this idea would desamate airline traffic around the North East Corridor, Mid-West (based on Chicago) and parts of the West Coast. Longer routes far less, of course, but the free publicity for Amtrak would spark demand across the whole system.

Gemuser
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Mir
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:51 am

Quoting SW733 (Reply 1):
In the USA, the ACLU would go crazy and call this discrimination. The politicians, in an effort to always keep their jobs, would agree.

And they'd be right to do so.

Quoting LH707330 (Reply 6):
I'm inclined to think there's a bigger delta than that,

It really is quite small. Unless you're talking about people so much heavier than the norm that they need a second seat, but then that second seat more than covers the extra cost.

Quoting LAXDESI (Reply 10):
One could also look at the lost revenue of transporting 80 lbs. of additional cargo on the above trip as a proxy for additional cost due to heavier passengers.

Not really, because average weight programs mean that you can take the same amount of cargo for a certain number of passengers, regardless of how much they actually weigh.

Quoting LH707330 (Reply 12):
If you get exact weights, can you take extra cargo, or is that a regulatory issue?

It's a logistical nightmare.

-Mir
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EricAY05
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RE: Per Kg Ticket Prices A Possibility?

Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:42 pm

How about this? Every ticket includes a base fare and an additional charge, which is the combined weight of the passenger and the baggage times fixed price/kg. This fixed price could vary depending on the lenght of the flight This way the weight is not the most important factor, but still a significant one.

Btw, I've always found it very unfair that kids occupying a seat pay so much less for their ticket. They still use a seat and can weight as much or even more as a small-sized adult.

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