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Will overweight passengers be forced to pay for two seats?

Source : Skyscanner Friday, 22nd January 2010

Erroneous reports in the British tabloid media this week stated that French flag carrier, Air France, will force overweight flyers to pay for two seats, or they will be prevented from boarding for 'safety reasons'.

However, Air France has officially denied the accusation, stating on their website that ‘Air France has no intention of making heavier passengers pay for a second seat’, bringing relief to the world’s most weighty people.

Since 2005, Air France has been offering heavier passengers the possibility of purchasing a second seat at a 25% discount, to enhance their own comfort and safety.

The only recent change to Air France’s policy on overweight passengers is to refund passengers the cost of the second seat, if the cabin is not fully booked.

The possibility of a “Fat Tax” for airline passengers is a frequently debated issue, with many flyers feeling that very overweight passengers should pay for an extra seat, if they are invading the space of neighbouring travellers.

Barry Smith, Skyscanner co-founder and director commented:

“Any ruling that alienates obese passengers is likely to deter them from booking with that airline. On the flip side, some airlines may start specifically targeting the overweight sector, by offering wider – but probably more expensive – seating options.”

Ryanair has previously flirted with the idea following a survey that revealed one third of their passengers were in favour of such a move.

Though Americans are typically perceived to be the world’s most overweight people, according to the World Health Organisation, it is in fact Nauru, the world’s smallest island nation that bears this unwanted title, with 94.5% of the population classified as overweight.

In second place is the Federated States of Micronesia, with 91.1%, and in third place are the Cook Islands with 90.9%. Other island nations make up the next four places with Tonga, Niue, Samoa, and Palau in 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th.

Middle Eastern country Kuwait is number 8 with 74.2%, and it’s only in 9th place that we see the USA, with 74.1% of all Americans classified as overweight. The Pacific island country of Kiribati is 10th, with 73.6% testing the scales.

The UK ranks as the 28th fattest country in the world with 63.8% of the population classified as overweight.

Ironically, if Air France were to ever bring in such a rule, it would be unlikely to affect French travellers as much as other nations; France ranks 128th in the ‘fat index’ with ‘only’ 40.1% of the population overweight.

World’s Fattest Countries

1. Nauru - 94.5%
2. Federated States of Micronesia - 91.1%
3. Cook Islands - 90.9%
4. Tonga - 90.8%
5. Niue - 81.7%
6. Samoa - 80.4%
7. Palau - 78.4%
8. Kuwait - 74.2%
9. United States - 74.1%
10. Kiribati - 73.6%

Ranking is % of overweight adults (15 years of age or above) in total population. Overweight is defined as having a body mass index of 25 or more. Statistics are according to The World Health Organisation.

What do you think? Should airlines be able to charge obese people more? Vote in our poll now

About Skyscanner
Skyscanner is a leading travel search site based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Skyscanner provides instant online comparison on flight prices for over 67,000 routes on over 600 airlines, as well as car hire, hotel and holiday price comparison. With Skyscanner, users can browse without having to enter specific dates or even destinations, and Skyscanner is available in 20 different languages including French, German and Spanish
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