Obese passengers who are unable to squeeze into a single seat on an airliner are to be charged double to fly with Air France.
From next month seriously overweight flyers will be asked to pay for two seats, or not be allowed on board for “safety reasons”, the airline announced yesterday.
“People who arrive at the check-in desk and are deemed too large to fit into a single seat will be asked to pay for and use a second seat,” said Monique Matze, an Air France spokesman.
“They will be charged 75 per cent of the cost of the second seat, which is the full price excluding tax and surcharges, on top of the full price for the first.
“The decision has been made for safety reasons. We have to make sure that the backrest can move freely up and down and that all passengers are securely fastened with a seatbelt.”
She added: “People who cannot fit into a single seat will then be fastened by slotting the belt tip of one seat into the plug of the next, stretching over both seats.
“However the charge will only apply on flights that are full booked. They will get their money back on flights where spaces are available.”
Two years ago Air France was ordered to pay £5,000 in damages to a 27-stone passenger who had his stomach measured at an airport check-in desk before being told to buy two seats.
British Airways has no weight limits for passengers, but advises overweight people to buy a second seat for their own comfort and safety if necessary.
Last year a picture, posted the aviation news website, Flightglobal, reignited the debate about obese passengers on aeroplanes.
July 27, 2009
by Stephanie Condon
While Democrats await the results of bipartisan negotiations over health care reform in the Senate Finance Committee, one of the proposals put before the committee received a nod of approval from health officials today: taxing soda.
The committee — the last congressional panel expected to produce its own recommendations for health care reform — listened to arguments earlier this year both for and against imposing a three-cent tax on sodas as well as other sugary drinks, including energy and sports drinks like Gatorade.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a three-cent tax would generate $24 billion over the next four years, and proponents of the tax argued before the committee that it would lower consumption of sugary drinks and improve Americans’ overall health.
At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Weight of the Nation” conference today, CDC chief Dr. Thomas Freiden said increasing the price of unhealthy foods “would be effective” at combating the nation’s obesity problem, reports CBS News chief political consultant Marc Ambinder.
Freiden said he was not endorsing the tax as a member of the administration but was “just presenting the science,” according to Ambinder. He also said policies that would reduce the cost of healthy foods would effectively bring down obesity rates.
Obesity-related health spending reaches $147 billion a year, double what it was nearly a decade ago, according to a study published Monday by the journal Health Affairs.
Given that evidence, the argument goes, a soda tax could plausibly pay for health care reform both by raising revenues and bringing down the medical expenses associated with obesity.
“It is extremely difficult in reality to make such a snapshot estimate of something so complicated as obesity,” Ambinder notes. “This is one reason why researchers in the field tend to focus on suffering and disparities within populations, rather than aggregate cost.”
Even though the growth rates of American obesity are leveling off overall, he points out, the rate is not slowing among African American women, Hispanics, Native Americans, or among poorer Americans.
Those opposed to the soda tax, however, are also emphasizing the impact it could have on poor Americans. The American Beverage Association, which strongly opposes the tax, told the Wall Street Journal the tax would hit poor Americans the hardest.
The association announced this month it has formed a coalition called Americans Against Food Taxes to oppose the soda tax, the Hill newspaper reported. Made up of 110 organizations opposed to raising taxes on food and beverages to pay for health reform, the group is running an advertisement that shows a family enjoying soda on a camping trip.
Given the current state of the economy, the ad says, “this is no time for Congress to be adding taxes on the simple pleasures we all enjoy.”