Highlights of the article:
Imagine two scales at the airline ticket counter, one for your bags and one for you. The price of a ticket depends upon the weight of both.
That may not be so far-fetched.
"You listen to the airline CEOs, and nothing is beyond their imagination,’’ said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group. "They have already begun to think exotically. Nothing is not under the microscope.’’ He declined to discuss what any individual airline might be contemplating, including charging passengers based on weight.
With fuel costs almost tripling since 2000, now accounting for as much as 40 percent of operating expenses at some carriers, … airlines are cutting costs and raising revenue in ways that once were unthinkable. U.S. Airways Group Inc. has eliminated snacks. Delta Air Lines Inc. is charging $25 for telephone reservations. … American Airlines last month became the first U.S. company to charge $15 for one checked bag.
Even a cold drink may be harder to come by aloft.
Airlines may report combined losses of $6.1 billion this year… Swierenga said the only meaningful way for them to reach profitability is to idle a portion of their fleets, which would allow them to reduce costs associated with fuel and labor.
“The solution lies in capacity cuts,’’ he said.”
Airlines have also taken shorter-term steps even if they have stopped short of weighing passengers.
Japan Airlines Corp. is using crockery in first-class and business-class cabins that is 20 percent lighter than the service items they replaced.
Southwest Airlines Co. is flying slower – by 72 seconds, for example, on Houston-Los Angeles flights, which now take 3 hours 14 minutes. That saves 8.7 gallons of fuel for each of the airline’s four daily nonstops on the 1,387-mile route, 34.8 gallons a day overall, said Marilee McInnis, a company spokeswoman.
Southwest comes closest to charging for weight, asking passengers to buy a second seat if their girth prevents the armrest from lowering.
One airline that is unlikely to start weighing its customers is Dubai-based Emirates, the largest carrier in the Gulf region.
"That is something that when I was a check-in agent in the early 70s I used to do and it was the most horrific experience, trying to get people to stand on scales,’’ said Tim Clark, the airline president. ``It’s not something that we would do.’’