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Airline brings in a pay-by-weight plan for Samoa, known for its obese men

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

April 3, 2013 | 2 min read

A small South Pacific airline is trying out an idea no other airline has come up with: charging passengers based on their weight.

Fly Samoa Air - pay by weight

Passengers flying Samoa Air on short international hops to next-door American Samoa will be asked to to pay $0.92 per kilogram, or $0.42 a pound, for each flight, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Samoans, says the WSJ, "are renowned for their girth." More than half the country's population aged over 20 is considered obese.

Samoa Air currently has only small propeller planes that seat between three and 10 passengers .

"That means a significantly overweight passenger could drastically reduce a plane's capacity, " Samoa Air CEO Chris Langton told The Journal."It's a pay by weight system and it's here to stay."

A 160-kilogram passenger will pay four times as much as a 40 kilogram customer, but the airline will ensure the larger traveller gets more space .

On the airline's Facebook page, some accused the company of discrimination. One person said: "I used to be almost 200 pounds and just lost a lot of weight. When I first read this it kind of hurt. However... I am all for getting people healthy."

Others backed the move. One poster said, "The only people [complaining] are the heavy ones. At the post office you pay extra for posting a heavy parcel. It's the same thing."

Passengers give their approximate weight when booking but are warned that they will be weighed ahead of boarding.

The airline will introduce the Airbus A320 jet later this year - and plans to extend the price-by-weight scheme.

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