Over the last few days, ITV’s Daybreak pursued me across Britain with requests to appear on the programme to talk about their new poll on whether fat people should be charged more when flying. I was unable to get to their London studios and with the Cardiff studios otherwise occupied, they ended up by suggesting they would try and send a satellite truck up to my sister’s house in Trehafod, a small village near Pontypridd in the Welsh Valleys. I was greatly flattered – and astonished by the extraordinary lengths they were going to. My family were greatly amused. Lots of comments about Muhammed coming to the mountain, being big in Trehafod etc etc… Sadly, in the end, the satellite truck was unavailable and I didn’t get to spend my Monday morning in the back of a lorry on a Welsh hillside being interviewed on telly. However, I had spent the weekend thinking about the issues, just in case, and it seemed a shame to waste all that brainwork (as my neighbour Olive used to say).
Pound per pound?
The issues – we’ve already had the one about whether fat people should pay for two seats. Now some bright spark has suggested that people should be weighed along with their luggage and should pay per pound as they use more fuel. I can just see it now…
Stansted Airport on a Sunday evening. Tickets will have been sold on the basis of combined weight and luggage. At least 90% of the travelling public will have lied not only on their tickets but to themselves. Who hasn’t moved the bathroom scales onto the wonky board in the corner because you can lose a couple more pounds that way? Who doesn’t take off their clothes, glasses, watch and go to the loo before weighing themselves – in the morning, to ensure lowest possible weight? And who but the crowing diet mafia doesn’t jealously guard their exact weight from everyone, including their nearest and dearest.
So the form is filled in, weights have been adjusted to fit aspirations and ticket price policies and people get to the airport. Enter the weight police and check-in scales. Carefully guarded marital secrets will be laid bare. The diet mafia will have hysterics as the spare jumper and the hair straighteners thrown in at the last minute tip them over the edge. The rugby club who’ve been on a binge the night before and had a few extra beers will see it as a mark of manhood – like a strongman machine. I can just see the point at which some bright spark decides to strip off and travel in his knickers to beat the weight limit. And the queues will wind round and round and round the airport as people queue to pay and no one actually ever gets on a plane.
One size fits no one
And what about the disabled? You are at a real disadvantage if you have a wheelchair. They are really heavy. What is a reasonable weight and should it be done on reasonable weight for your height or just a blanket one size fits no one? I regularly travel with a friend who is just under 5ft, should she get a discount or perhaps team up with another small person on a 2-for-1 bogof? My partner is 6ft 2in but not fat, should he be penalised for being tall? Could people combine weight allowances? My short friend could make a fortune by hiring out case space for big knickers.
Presumably First Class passengers will be exempt from this humiliating mass weigh-in. Just imagine the paparazzi frenzy that would await the arrival of Angelina Jolie and her designer bags – or the headline possibilities of Lord Sugar?
So airlines, stop being greedy and try to remember that you are meant to be a service industry. In your headlong rush to squeeze your pound from the flesh of the overly endowed, pause for a moment and use a little common sense. It’s going to be unworkable and inconvenience everybody. No one is going to like this one.