The Instigator
brian_eggleston
Pro (for)
Losing
25 Points
The Contender
Geekis_Khan
Con (against)
Winning
33 Points

Overweight people should be made to pay their fair share on ‘planes.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/15/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,976 times Debate No: 3633
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (15)
Votes (18)

 

brian_eggleston

Pro

The cost of an airline ticket should reflect the total weight of the passenger and luggage together, as this directly affects how much fuel the aircraft uses.

Fat people should not expect normal people to subsidise them. If I have excess baggage, I don't organise a whip-round amongst my fellow passengers to cover the extra cost.

To add insult to injury, once on the ‘plane, many obese people seem to think it is socially acceptable to invade other passengers' personal space by allowing their blubber to overflow onto their neighbour's seat.

These people have no shame, no dignity, no self-respect – if they did, they wouldn't be so fat, or at least they wouldn't go out in public.
Geekis_Khan

Con

I'll thank my opponent for starting the debate as is customary, and ask that people vote for better argumentation, not what they personally agree with.

Let's begin.

First, you can disregard the argument about blubber overflowing into other people's seats. While it may be an inconvenience for the people in the other seats, it doesn't affect the cost that the airline spends on fuel or anything else. In fact, it is totally unrelated to economics. Making them pay extra because of a reason like this is basically fining people for being fat. If you accept that reasoning, we should be fining all people who are not perfectly healthy, whether it is in the realm of control or not, seeing as how it is not always within the obese individual's realm of control.

Second, you can disregard my opponent's talk about obese people having no shame, dignity, or self-respect, as this does not actually prove anything about what they should pay for airline tickets.

Now, here's why you can't accept his other argument. First off, he's saying that fat people are "subsidized" by the other passengers. But this isn't true. People still only pay for THEIR OWN TICKET. They pay for themselves, and no one else. No customer is picking up the slack for fat people.

Second, since no customer is picking up the slack for fat people, it is ultimately the airline that is picking up the small amount of slack created by the extra weight. They're the ones paying for the fuel. Since it's their fuel, they have the right to use it any way they see fit. If the want to charge all passengers equally, it is their right. And, this is highly recommended, as being discriminatory to fat people in such a way would be a huge capitalistic mistake.

But, either way, the decision remains ultimately to the airline. It shouldn't be one way or the other, it's just a personal preference for the airline.
Debate Round No. 1
brian_eggleston

Pro

Thank you for responding so eloquently to my airline-related assertions!

Before I reply to your comments, however, I would just like to make it clear that I am aware that some overweight people may be sensitive about their body image and could, therefore, take exception to the (deliberately) un-PC language in my introductory argument. I should like to explain that it wasn't my intention to offend, merely to provoke a lively debate.

Furthermore, although most overweight people are the way they are because they consume more calories than they expend, I realise that there are some medical conditions that can affect weight and special dispensation should be made for aeroplane passengers who have a letter from their doctor stating that they are overweight for that reason.

You countered my argument that fat people should pay more by stating their weight "doesn't affect the cost that the airline spends on fuel or anything else. In fact, it is totally unrelated to economics."

I'm afraid I have to contradict you. As of September 2007, fuel made up 27 percent of operating expenses for U.S. airlines, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and airlines will go to extraordinary lengths to reduce weight. For example, last year, American Airlines replaced its silverware on business and first class with another set that was made from a lighter metal. In short, the heavier the aircraft, the more fuel it burns.

The cost of this fuel has to paid, ultimately, by the passengers, but the financial burden is not divided according to use, but evenly across all passengers.

You continued: "being discriminatory to fat people…would be a huge capitalistic mistake.

I don't believe asking people to pay their own way is unreasonable. It certainly cannot be described as discriminatory. For example, if you go out for a meal with a group of friends, sometimes it is easier to divide the cost of the bill equally between everybody. However, this can cause bad feeling if most people just have fired chicken or hamburgers with a cola but one diner orders roast foie gras, crystallised seaweed and oyster vinaigrette for starters, followed by civet of venison, celeriac, marron glace and sauce poivrade with pearl barley for the main course and bavarois of lychee and mango, blackcurrant sorbet and green peppercorn jelly for desert, all washed down with bottle of Dom Perignon Brut 1966!

However, you are right to say "the decision remains ultimately to the airline". Southwest Airlines considered including the weight of the passenger in the cost of the ticket but dropped the idea due to fierce opposition from overweight people. Perhaps if people of normal weight were as vocal as the fat lobby, the average passenger would get a better deal.
Geekis_Khan

Con

"Before I reply to your comments, however, I would just like to make it clear that I am aware that some overweight people may be sensitive about their body image and could, therefore, take exception to the (deliberately) un-PC language in my introductory argument. I should like to explain that it wasn't my intention to offend, merely to provoke a lively debate."

How is this not meant to be offensive:

"These people have no shame, no dignity, no self-respect – if they did, they wouldn't be so fat, or at least they wouldn't go out in public."

Anyways...

"You countered my argument that fat people should pay more by stating their weight "doesn't affect the cost that the airline spends on fuel or anything else. In fact, it is totally unrelated to economics.""

No, that's not what I was countering at all. You were complaining about fat people allow " their blubber to overflow onto their neighbour's seat." This is what was entirely unrelated to economics (which is why it's completely unrelated to the resolution). You're just complaining about having to sit next to someone who happens to be fat. Get over it.

"I'm afraid I have to contradict you. As of September 2007, fuel made up 27 percent of operating expenses for U.S. airlines, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and airlines will go to extraordinary lengths to reduce weight. For example, last year, American Airlines replaced its silverware on business and first class with another set that was made from a lighter metal. In short, the heavier the aircraft, the more fuel it burns.

The cost of this fuel has to paid, ultimately, by the passengers, but the financial burden is not divided according to use, but evenly across all passengers."

I already countered that. But I'll go at it again. People pay the same amount. An airline doesn't know how much fuel they're going to use for one trip, therefore, it makes sense to make it even, since they're all paying for the same trip without the knowledge of how much fuel it will take.

And it isn't paid ultimately by the passengers. It's ultimately paid by the airlines. Ultimate means in the end. Who's paying the bill for the fuel, the airlines or the passengers? True, the passengers are the ones who keep the airlines in business, but it is up to the airlines to allocate their profits as they see fit.

I'd also like to point out that you have not proven at all that these passengers are actually paying more because of fat people. You have shown no actual evidence for this.

"I don't believe asking people to pay their own way is unreasonable. It certainly cannot be described as discriminatory. For example, if you go out for a meal with a group of friends, sometimes it is easier to divide the cost of the bill equally between everybody. However, this can cause bad feeling if most people just have fired chicken or hamburgers with a cola but one diner orders roast foie gras, crystallised seaweed and oyster vinaigrette for starters, followed by civet of venison, celeriac, marron glace and sauce poivrade with pearl barley for the main course and bavarois of lychee and mango, blackcurrant sorbet and green peppercorn jelly for desert, all washed down with bottle of Dom Perignon Brut 1966!"

Your analogy doesn't apply for the reason I just gave you: people pay before the actual trip, not after. There's no way to know how much fuel it would take.

Furthermore, is weight the only thing going into how much fuel it takes? No. There is no way to actually do the math to figure out how much each passenger should pay proportionally, so not only does your argument fall through, but it isn't even applicable.

"However, you are right to say "the decision remains ultimately to the airline". Southwest Airlines considered including the weight of the passenger in the cost of the ticket but dropped the idea due to fierce opposition from overweight people. Perhaps if people of normal weight were as vocal as the fat lobby, the average passenger would get a better deal."

That proves my point that it would be a huge capitalistic mistake (a point that you failed to counter). They would lose business if they did this. Since the route that the "should" take would be the best way to (legally) maximize business, the CON should win this debate.

And as for "normal" people not being as vocal as fat people, what are we defining as "normal"? You see, about 20% of the population is obese (http://www.socialreport.msd.govt.nz...). Are you saying that such a huge demographic isn't normal? And even so, are you saying that the airlines should just ignore this group's concerns?

So remember:

It's a huge capitalistic mistake.

It is inapplicable (in more ways than one).

Other passengers aren't carrying the burden of "extra fuel" (and my opponent has not yet offered any evidence for this).
Debate Round No. 2
brian_eggleston

Pro

Thanks for your persistence, I would have thought you would have accepted the unassailable nature of my arguments and conceded the debate long before now!

Anyway, let's revisit the ongoing dispute over fuel.

You wrote: "People pay the same amount."

That's why it's so unfair, but carry on…

"An airline doesn't know how much fuel they're going to use for one trip, therefore, it makes sense to make it even, since they're all paying for the same trip without the knowledge of how much fuel it will take."

But the airline does know exactly how much fuel is required for each flight. That's why you have to pre-book freight and advise them the exact weight of the cargo – so they can calculate how much fuel to put in.

Of course, there is a bit of leeway, just in case someone turns up unexpectedly with a bit of extra luggage, but you are still supposed to advise the airline in advance if you intend to bring excess luggage so they can fuel the plane accordingly. On more than one occasion I have seen check-in staff refuse to check ad-hoc excess bags into the hold because there was already the maximum scheduled weight on board the aircraft.

You continued: "It's ultimately paid by the airlines…but it is up to the airlines to allocate their profits as they see fit."

True, but the airlines calculate the fares on a "cost plus" basis, and the cost of fuel is a significant (27%) factor in that calculation. Since it costs them more in fuel to transport 400lbs of flesh and luggage than it does 200lbs of flesh and luggage, shouldn't this be reflected in the fare paid? After all, you'd expect to pay more to send 400lbs of cargo than 200lbs.

In respect of my anecdote about Southwest dropping plans to introduce this type of pricing you wrote: "That proves my point that it would be a huge capitalistic mistake (a point that you failed to counter). They would lose business if they did this."

The reason I didn't attempt to counter it directly was that by telling that story I was implicitly conceding your point, but I added that this was because the fat lobby were very vocal, but remember, those that shout the loudest aren't always right.

"And as for "normal" people" you went on "not being as vocal as fat people, what are we defining as "normal"? You see, about 20% of the population is obese. Are you saying that such a huge demographic isn't normal? And even so, are you saying that the airlines should just ignore this group's concerns?"

20% of the population obese, you say? Well, I agree with you, it's absolutely appalling. It's an even higher percentage than here in the UK and we're a right bunch of flabby, indolent slobs!

I mean, how can these people justify consuming so much more of the world's finite food resources than they actually need to stay healthy when millions of children go to bed hungry every night?

Sorry, that should be for another debate. Now, where were we? Oh yes, by "normal" I was referring to the Body Mass Index as follows:

Less than 18.4 underweight
Between 18.5 and 24.9 normal
Between 25 and 29.9 overweight
Between 30 and 39.9 obese
Over 40 morbidly obese

No, the airlines should not ignore the concerns of the obese, but they should also consider the concerns of the majority. To this end, a fair pricing structure would be as follows:

Underweight people get a discount;
Normal people pay the normal fare (see how reasonable that sounds);
Everyone else pays a supplement according to how much extra weight they're carrying on their bodies.

An airline who introduced this system would be able to reduce or maintain fares for most people while a few would pay a little extra to reflect the extra cost the airline incurs by carrying them.

In every other aspect of life, one is expected to pay one's fair share and this should apply to air travel too.
Geekis_Khan

Con

"Thanks for your persistence, I would have thought you would have accepted the unassailable nature of my arguments and conceded the debate long before now!"

You should vote CON just because of how much of an egotistical jerk my opponent is being.

But let's go on, anyway.

"But the airline does know exactly how much fuel is required for each flight. That's why you have to pre-book freight and advise them the exact weight of the cargo – so they can calculate how much fuel to put in."

Obviously they don't know how much fuel is needed, since they don't ask for your weight. And I just took a flight a few months ago. There was no questioning about the weight of my luggage, and I paid the same rate as everyone else.

I'm also taking a flight at the end of May. They're not concerned about how much my luggage weighs.

"True, but the airlines calculate the fares on a "cost plus" basis, and the cost of fuel is a significant (27%) factor in that calculation. Since it costs them more in fuel to transport 400lbs of flesh and luggage than it does 200lbs of flesh and luggage, shouldn't this be reflected in the fare paid? After all, you'd expect to pay more to send 400lbs of cargo than 200lbs."

But we're not paying more to send 400 lbs of cargo than 200 lbs. There's an extra fee for extra bags, but in my experience, they have never cared about weight. They don't know the exact weight before a flight.

And besides, we're not asking them to transport weight, we're asking them to transport people.

"The reason I didn't attempt to counter it directly was that by telling that story I was implicitly conceding your point, but I added that this was because the fat lobby were very vocal, but remember, those that shout the loudest aren't always right."

You haven't proves to me that the "fat lobby" is more vocal than anyone else. Even if you want to accept that they're more vocal, then the reason that they're more vocal is that the other 80% of people don't care. And if they don't care, what are we arguing about?

"20% of the population obese, you say? Well, I agree with you, it's absolutely appalling. It's an even higher percentage than here in the UK and we're a right bunch of flabby, indolent slobs!"

You completely ignored my point that it's a high percentage. This is a demographic that we can't just ignore.

"I mean, how can these people justify consuming so much more of the world's finite food resources than they actually need to stay healthy when millions of children go to bed hungry every night?"

It's pretty appalling that instead of doing something about it you spend your time complaining to a teenager about how much you hate fat people over the internet, too. But that's also another debate.

"Underweight people get a discount;
Normal people pay the normal fare (see how reasonable that sounds);
Everyone else pays a supplement according to how much extra weight they're carrying on their bodies.

An airline who introduced this system would be able to reduce or maintain fares for most people while a few would pay a little extra to reflect the extra cost the airline incurs by carrying them."

Alright, so now you're saying that they have to pay a little extra. If it's only a little, then why can't the airlines just continue to cover it, and not make people angry by charging them more?

Once again, this is the idea of capitalism. The airline will keep profits up more by keeping fares the same. Whichever side is better capitalistically for the airline is the side you should vote for. This is clearly the CON, as it would only cost the airline, using my opponent's words, "a little extra" to compensate for any minuscule extra amount of fuel used to transport someone who weighs fifty pounds more than the average, while at the same time the CON side allows for more business and consequently more profits, as it does not alienate an entire fifth of the population.
Debate Round No. 3
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by thereal_yeti 8 years ago
thereal_yeti
Like many things in life..

In principle I agree with one side(pro)but as far as it being practical.. I have to go with con..

It only makes SENSE that if you consume more, you should have to pay more. However, how exactly do they measure that?

I weighh 209, I WOULDN'T find it all that unreasonable to pay more then someoen who was 150.. (As long as it was a reasonable amount)

Also, I don't find it to be discriminating against "fat people" because it wouldn't differentiate between a short fat person, and A tall muscular person..
Posted by bexy_kelly 9 years ago
bexy_kelly
Pro was very offensive, but if youve ever sat beside the fat one on the plane, you'll know why!
Posted by Geekis_Khan 9 years ago
Geekis_Khan
And this debate was never about seats. It was about fuel.
Posted by Geekis_Khan 9 years ago
Geekis_Khan
One again, it's still capitalistically better to cater to them. You're talking about a minuscule amount of extra fuel.

It's fine if you want to vote PRO, but I believe I proved that the CON side is better capitalistically than the PRO.
Posted by Paradigm_Lost 9 years ago
Paradigm_Lost
CON stated, "it isn't paid ultimately by the passengers. It's ultimately paid by the airlines." Think about that for a moment. Who pays the salaries of airline employees? The passengers do. That's how a business works.

Now, it may be insensitive to the obese to expect them to pay for their weight, but airline companies are fighting for their very lives right now. They can't be bothered by one fat guy when thousands of their employees have to feed their families.

Airplane seats are designed to fit average-sized people. They do not cater to the minority-sized individuals who, literally, take up two seats. If one buttock engulfs one seat, and the other buttock engulfs another, shouldn't they be expected to pay for the two seats, rather than one -- political correctness be damned?
Posted by triguy12 9 years ago
triguy12
the 'pro' side offers no substantial evidence, and is swayed by discriminatory views. its free market society and the airlines can chose as they will what to charge
Posted by Korezaan 9 years ago
Korezaan
Just call them obese, sh!t. Is it really that hard?
Posted by brian_eggleston 9 years ago
brian_eggleston
It seems I've broken the golden rule of debating; don't offend the voters.

I am planning to instigate another debate concerning obese people, but I don't want to lose any votes by offending them through the use of politically incorrect terminology.

Therefore, I should be most grateful if anybody could advise if the following descriptions of a person with a BMI greater than 30 are considered acceptable:

A Gravitationally-Challenged Person.
A Heavy-Treader.
A Salad-Dodger.

If not, could someone suggest appropriate alternatives?
Posted by Korezaan 9 years ago
Korezaan
Changed vote. The fatness debate was unnecessary.
Posted by birdpiercefan3334 9 years ago
birdpiercefan3334
Vote CON, the PRO was SO Offensive. Counterargs were expounded through, voters made, definite CON win.

P.S. Blubber flowing into people's seats? That is insulting. No way that remark had anything to do with this debate.

"Thanks for your persistence, I would have thought you would have accepted the unassailable nature of my arguments and conceded the debate long before now!"

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UGH.
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