Samoa Air offers supersize seats

Published on 1 January 1970 by Raffick Marday

Pacific national airline Samoa Air is going to start offering ‘XL class’ seats for passengers that can’t fit into the plane’s regular seating.

Weight limits

The airline already charges passengers based on their weight, and has seen this new development as a necessary reflection of Samoa’s extremely high obesity rate.

The new wider seating row will be for passengers weighing over 286 pounds, and will enable them to enjoy a level of comfort which usually isn’t available for people of a certain size during air travel.

This happens at a time when Australia has recently ruled out ideas about introducing a ‘size surcharge’ for obese passengers, although it’s widely acknowledged that these larger individuals require more fuel to transport.

Chris Langton, the head of Samoa airlines, said that once passengers were obese “a traditional seat on any airline is going to be uncomfortable”.

He added: “Quite often the access is difficult, and even the space between the seats is enough that even when you've squeezed into the seats there's no room for your legs. That's where the XL has come in – we do it with shirts and clothing and other things where we have different standard sizes.”

There’s some debate over whether this new development will become more popular internationally, as other airlines seek to make weight a factor when selling seats to passengers.

“The airline industry is going to have to do that – we're going to have to provide a range of seats categorised in terms of weight and maybe some other indexes like height, so when people travel they can give us those indicators and we can allocate them to an appropriate seat,” Mr Langton continued.

The issue is a tricky one. While airlines want their customers to sit in comfort, increasing the size of certain seats naturally raises the issue of the pricing system that goes along with them, risking negative publicity.

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