The Instigator
brian_eggleston
Pro (for)
Winning
5 Points
The Contender
natoast
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points

Air fares should reflect the combined weight of the passenger and their luggage

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
brian_eggleston
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/21/2013 Category: Economics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,795 times Debate No: 30469
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)

 

brian_eggleston

Pro

As a result of international sanctions, certain commodities are in very short supply in Iran and last month my friend "Insane" Hussein Avhadmedinnerdad, who is a stallholder in Tehran's Grand Bazaar, asked me to send him a consignment of cornflakes over as they cannot be officially imported into Iran. So I went to my local cash-and-carry, bought a 1m² wholesale box of this decadent Western breakfast cereal and sent it to him by air freight, for which the airline charged me $50.

Then, this month, Hussein got in touch again and asked me if I could send him something else that he couldn't get in Iran - highly enriched uranium - which he said is much in demand at the moment. For some reason, however, the cash-and-carry doesn't stock uranium so I went to see my friend "Bonkers" Boris Pantzov, a Ukrainian arms dealer who drinks in my local pub, and who can get his hands on anything for a price, and he kindly sold me a 1m² crate full of weapons-grade uranium billets.

To my great indignation, though, the freight forwarder wanted to Jew me out of whopping $50,000 to send the container even though it was exactly the same size of the one I sent before for just $50!

The reason for this extra cost was, of course, that the price was determined more by the weight than the physical dimensions of the packages and uranium weighs 19,050.00kg/m² (1), whereas cornflakes only weigh 8.25kg/m² (2), and the weight of my crate of uranium equated to over a third of the maximum payload of a Boeing 767-300 Freighter cargo plane. (3)

In the case of passenger planes, the cost of fuel normally accounts for around 30% of airlines' revenues (4) and is their most significant single expense. On medium-haul flights every extra kilogram of weight uses an extra litre of fuel, and even more on long-haul flights. (5)

So why, then, does a little old lady travelling only with hand luggage pay the same air fare as some huge obese woman travelling with a big heavy suitcase plus hand luggage when we know the the little old lady costs the airline so much less in fuel to transport?

Presumably, the answer has something to do with airlines not wanting to be accused of discriminating against overweight people, but this means that normal people are, in effect, subsidising the air travel of fat people, which is plainly unjust.

That's why I propose that air fares should reflect the combined weight of passengers and their luggage. This is a simplified version of how the fares could be calculated in the future:

Current fare for all passengers including 1 piece hold baggage allowance - $500
Future fare for below average weight passenger with no hold baggage - $400
Future fare for below average weight passenger with 1 piece hold baggage - $450
Future fare for below average weight passenger with 2 piece hold baggage - $500
Future fare for average weight passenger with no hold baggage - $450
Future fare for average weight passenger with 1 piece hold baggage - $500
Future fare for average weight passenger with 2 pieces hold baggage - $550
Future fare for overweight passenger with no hold baggage - $500
Future fare for overweight passenger with 1 piece hold baggage - $550
Future fare for overweight passenger with 2 pieces hold baggage - $600

Using this pricing method all passengers will make the appropriate contribution to the cost of fuelling the plane for the flight and the air fares will reflect the true cost of the tickets.

Thank you.

(1) http://www.rsc.org...
(2) A 750g box of Kellogg's cornflakes has volume of 0.080626499m² allowing 11 boxes to be packed into a square metre container, thus cornflakes have a mass of 8.250kg/m², meaning that billets of uranium are 2,309 times heavier than boxes of cornflakes
(3) http://www.boeing.com...
(4) http://www.airlinefinancials.com...
(5) http://www.airliners.net...
natoast

Con


The average American weighs 177 pounds(1). If we assume that the average hold baggage weighs 20 pounds, then each person brings, on average, 197 pounds with them. Now, the average fuel cost per person is about $65(2). 197 divided by 65 is equal to 33 cents per pound. For the airlines to justify a $50 increase in prices, like you suggested, a person would to be 150 pounds heavier then average, or 327 pounds. to charge people only a few pounds overweight $50 more is arguably more unfair then the healthy weight individuals subsidising the costs of the overweight.

Furthermore, 69.2% of Americans are overweight(3), so the majority of passengers would be paying more while only a few would actually have their prices reduced. This plan would favor underweight passengers over the overweight passengers.

Finally, airlines are still companies. If they consider the bad PR of discriminating against fat people to be more important then slightly decreasing the price of tickets for skinny people, then they shouldn't discriminate against fat people. The simple fact that a majority of Americans are overweight would cause any airline to put this into effect to seriously lose revenue.

In the end this would only benefits the underweight, according to your plan the prices wouldn't change for an average weight person, and it would be detrimental to both the airline and overweight people.




(1) http://en.wikipedia.org...

(2) http://www.airlinefinancials.com...

(3) http://www.cdc.gov...
Debate Round No. 1
brian_eggleston

Pro

First of all, I should like to thank natoast for accepting this debate.

Next, I would like to challenge my opponent's statistics. He claims that the average American weighs 177lbs / 80kg, and while I broadly agree with this figure (my source actually states 178lbs / 80.5kg), aviation is an international industry and the average global body weight is only 137lbs / 62kg. Furthermore, the population of Asia accounts for 61% of the world's population and the average weight of people in Asia is only 127lbs / 57kg. (1).

That is to say, that on a flight between an an Asian country and the United States, where half the passengers are Asian and half are American, the American passengers will be on average 50lbs / 22kgs heavier than their Asian counterparts.

On a long-haul flight between the two continents, the fuel required to transport an Asian passenger weighing 127lbs / 57kg will be approximately 1.6 litres per kg / 0.5 US gallon, that is 85.5 litres / 22.5 US gallons at a cost of $3.20 per gallon / $12.60 per litre (2) totalling $273.60 per passenger.

Meanwhile, on the same flight, the fuel required to transport an American passenger weighing 177lbs / 80kg will be approximately 1.6 litres per kg / 0.5 US gallon, that is 128 litres / 33 US gallons at a cost of $3.20 per gallon / $12.60 per litre (2) totalling $409.60 per passenger.

So we can see the average American costs the airline $136.00 more to fly across the Pacific than the average Asian, so my $50.00 increments are actually very conservative.

Surely my opponent wouldn't suggest that relatively wealthy Americans deserve to be subsidized by relatively impoverished Asians, or, indeed, that overweight passengers internationally should be subsidised by underweight or normal people?

It is in recognition of this weight differential that airlines offer children between 2-11 years discounted fares and charge extra for excess baggage. (3,4)

Finally, I recognise that airlines do not currently oblige overweight people to pay the true cost of their tickets for PR reasons, and prefer to maintain the status quo whereby less hefty passengers pick up the extra cost, but this is the point of my argument - the current pricing system obliges people of normal and below average weight to subsidize overweight passengers, which is unjust.

This concept is almost unique in capitalism where usually consumers pay according to their level of consumption, rather than according to their need, which is an idea more commonly associated with communism, and, as my opponent points out, airlines are companies, not state-run utilities, and their current pricing structure discriminates against people who are not overweight, and this system must be replaced with an equitable and fair pricing structure.

Thank you.

(1) http://www.bbc.co.uk...
(2) http://www.indexmundi.com...
(3) http://www.britishairways.com...#
(4) https://www.britishairways.com...
natoast

Con

I'm sorry, but I just don't have the time to do this properly. I forfeit.
Debate Round No. 2
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by brian_eggleston 3 years ago
brian_eggleston
BREAKING NEWS!

An airline has implemented my proposal on their flights:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
I once worked out in detail the costs associated with weight and space for a 747. It turns out that the space for the passengers dominates the cost. The cost of weight is only about $15 per hundred pounds. When figuring the costs, remember that the aircraft itself with it's fuel load is very heavy, so even if passengers weighed nothing the costs of moving the aircraft would not be much less. Added weight does increase fuel consumption, so that's the $15 per hundred pounds. (I have a degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from M.I.T., and I know how to do these calculations. Trust me.)

What things cost is not necessarily how they are charged. Airlines overcharge for baggage and undercharge for the basic airfare, because that sells better. First class airfare is grossly above cost, because rich passengers will pay it to escape coach.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
brian_egglestonnatoastTied
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Another obese/Jew debate from the egg-man. :D
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 3 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
brian_egglestonnatoastTied
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Total points awarded:41 
Reasons for voting decision: Arguments to Pro because Con forfeited, although conduct to Con for not actually forfeiting the round. S/G to Pro for his excellent usage of the verb 'to Jew'.