The Conundrum of a Below-Average Guy

I was just reading with a friend a debate that I am sure has crossed everyone’s minds. I have mixed feelings about the subject and I will try to stay out of controversy! You don’t do whatever you want! It’s mostly a free world after all! But I have two different opinions on the matter… but it’s my personal opinion and maybe it’s not worth the kbs it’s written on! I will carry on anyway.

I am a skinny guy who always carry my luggage on the overhead compartment and hardly ever check-in a bag. I only check-in my luggage when I have my tent, sleeping bags and camping equipment. I am a relatively active person, like going hiking, camping etc and as some of you know, these equipments can be very heavy. Depending on the airline you travel with, the allowances for long-haul flights vary, from a single 20kg luggage (cough cough air france cough cough) to two 32kg. These restrictions are getting stricter and you are being allowed less and less every year.

I am a 65kg average guy who usually carries a 10kg overhead backpack with me. That holds everything I need for non-adventurous trips. When carrying equipment and going for very long holidays, the checked-in luggage can easily surpass the 20kg allowed, which is a problem, as the fees for luggage are out of this world! That’s the time that I starting putting on layers and layers of clothes until my luggage comes down below the threshold of that single bag. What’s the difference? I am not carrying that weight in my checked luggage, but I am carrying that weight on the plane anyway……. so…. what’s the problem?

This is the part that confuses me. The problem with overweight luggage is saving fuel and, in turn, reducing carbon footprint etc etc, so that airlines look that they care less about money than they actually do (with the environmentally friendly label attached!). The truth is, it’s all about maximizing profit, it’s a business after all. So, with the $greens$ in mind, the aim is to reduce the OVERALL weight of the aircraft, not the luggage only. It’s a hard subject because it can invade people’s privacy, personal problems and put them on the spot in public. This is something that none of us really like, to be honest. But anyway, since the point is to reduce costs and maximize profits, here is where my thoughts split.

  1. Luggage allowance should be based on the total weight of luggage + passenger

Well, as I explained above, I can wear layers and layers of clothes on me and have a checked bag that’s under the weight limit. I can then, as I board the plane, throw all those really large jackets and take over more than my allotted overhead space.

I have travelled once beside a bodybuilder and we had this very same discussion with him. He weighed 200kg and was carrying his 30kg (20kg checked + 10kg overhead). He had then, in total, 230kg on board. I weighed 55kg back then and had a 20kg checked bag only (from which I had to remove a jacket), nothing else. Total: 75kg and a bit? So, his combined weight was roughly three times my combined weight. I told him about it and asked, with the fear of being punched in the face and dying on the spot, if he thought it was fair that I should have to pay overweight on my luggage. He said that he was carrying about 155kg more than me and had to pay nothing and there I was, roasting due do the extra layer. This made me think about another way to think about the subject…

  1. Pay-by-Weight (passenger + luggage)

Nothing in the world motivates people more than the fear of overspending (for us poor folk of course). I always travel on a tight budget and I’d love to be able to save a little more and enjoy the place without thinking too much about if I will be able to eat the next day. Again, the overall fuel consumption of an airplane is directly related to the weight of the aircraft. Hey, aerodynamics is a very VERY exact science, so attaching a number of fuel consumption to the average passenger+luggage is not so hard to do, if you are interested in the details. The average passenger + all luggages weighs roughly 110kg. If the fuel consumption, and plane ticket (excluding the taxes that we can’t control) as a consequence, are valued per kg of total mass, you’d see two things happening: People bringing less luggage and using the local launderette at their destination OR filled gyms and parks to work on their bikini bodies more often.

In relation to this last topic and being a less-than-average guy who prefers to remain active, I do feel that I help pay for everyone else’s ticket, since I don’t require as much fuel to be transported as a 230kg bodybuilder+luggage. Assuming that I paid the same for the ticket as he did, in a pay-by-weight system, my ticket-ONLY was three times more expensive than his.

Thinking about it, he didn’t even thank me for the almost free ticket!

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