As anyone who’s ever gotten on a plane in the last decade knows, the biggest problem with air travel is that the experience is not nearly degrading enough. There’s only so much humiliation you can get from having to take off your shoes and stand barefoot in the middle of a dirty, crowded airport, after all, and people have become so desensitized to backscatter X-ray technology it barely fazes them anymore. Thankfully, one brave economist has offered a solution to this issue: begin charging airplane passengers based on their body weight.
In this new system, passengers who weigh more will be charged a heftier air fare than their lighter counterparts. And for those who worry that buff individuals will be unfairly discriminated against because of their high proportion of muscle weight, a secondary surcharge would be added to individuals who do not “fit in the 17 inches between armrests”. So it’s only people who are heavy in a way society does not approve of who have to worry.
In response those who accuse this policy of bigotry against the obese, the economist behind the proposal pointed out that, “Charging according to weight and space is a universally accepted principle, not only in transportation, but also in other services.” So, really, he isn’t discriminating against obese individuals, but simply stating that the same rules that apply to inanimate cargo and other things that aren’t considered human should be applied to them as well.
Though this policy will help to make traveling by plane more embarrassing by making passengers submit to a mandatory public weighing in addition to security screenings, some worry that it does not do quite enough. Economists have leapt to the task, giving suggestions like placing security officers near in-airport fast food places to make customers feel uncomfortable, installing stairmasters next to the shoe-shining stations, and having attendants announce passengers’ body mass indexes over the loudspeaker when they’re late to board. Others, recognizing that body weight is not the only sensitive topic for Americans, propose adding surcharges when a passenger smells funny, dresses tackily—I mean, really? You’re wearing a Hawaiian shirt on your honeymoon?—or if one of the security guys decides he just doesn’t like your face.