Fat tax for Qantas pax?

written by australianaviation.com.au | January 12, 2012
The October Qantas fleet grounding has been named the top PR disaster of 2011 by a social media tracking site.

Former Qantas chief economist Tony Webber says overweight passengers should pay a surcharge to offset extra fuel costs.

Webber says passengers are already weighed along with their luggage in some parts of the world – citing rural Indonesia as an example – and imposing the fee in Australia would help carriers deal with ballooning fuel costs.

“When the passengers weigh more, or where there’s extra weight on the aircraft, that generates more fuel burn and higher fuel costs,” he told the ABC. He said the surcharge would only amount to $5 or $10 on a flight between Sydney and London.


Some airlines have sought ways to grapple with the growing size of passengers. The majority of US airlines have imposed policies requiring obese passengers to purchase two seats.

But Qantas – as well as the rest of Australia’s airlines – say they have no plans to introduce a fat tax. As Webber himself acknowledged, the surcharge would likely “humiliate” some passengers and could lead to a public relations backlash.

Speaking of which, a social networking tracking site this week tagged Qantas with three of the year’s top 10 PR disasters.

The October grounding of the Qantas fleet took top place while the airline’s luxury pyjamas contest came in second. It’s “golliwog” social media promo came in fifth. The list was compiled by monitoring site Cyber Chatter.



  • Dane


    Good grief, what has the world come too. Ok, so the ailrines need to raise profits and attract customers, but this will do the exact opposite. This idea should remain just that, an idea.

  • Tony


    Top idea. Why should people who choose not to be fat be entitled to less weight on a plane than fat people? Why not have a total weight limit instead of a baggage limit? I, like many, have spent quite a few unpleasant flights having my personal space invaded by fat people who overflow into the seat next to them. Further more, perhaps ‘fat sections’ of seating would be practical. If fat people think it they are entitled to take up more room, maybe they should sit with people of similar physique who feel the same way.

    While I’m sure some people out there will highlight the corner case of fit body builders who are heavy, the sad fact is the overwealming majority of people in question are just plain fat. The standard passenger these days is a sad mith.

  • Nat


    Shame on Tony Webber…. Thank God that the Airlines aren’t considering as this would bring down there customers and there ratings…. If i was that uni i wouldn’t want that on the news…. Outrage the public…. Its a personal thing your weight, would you want everyone to know your weight or the size of your gentals that is private….

  • Clive Derwent


    This should only apply to people who take up more than an economy seat. More than once I have been SQUASHED by an obese person sitting next to me!

  • Fattist


    Great idea! Bring on the fat-tax!!

    It’s analogous to passive-smoking, if someone wants to destroy their own health then that’s their choice, but it shouldn’t be at the detriment of others. Why should the health-conscious citizen have to pay for other peoples laziness??

  • Isaac Boyle


    With prices ever increasing, why should “healthy” people be forced to foot the bill for those people who are obese? Extra seats are taken up, more fuel is needed and airlines pass that extra cost onto consumers that are in a healthy wate range. Might be an incentive for those that are obese to swap a hamburger for a banana to avoid such a surcharge.

  • Julien Taillardat


    I can see the merit in what he is saying, however, agree that the public backlash would be horrendous.

    Second however, what I disagree with is when I’m slugged with an excess luggage fee because I’m over by 2-3KG’s. I don’t see people that are 20KG’s heavier than the combined weight of me and my luggage penalized.

  • Kimberley


    You’re a disgusting bunch of closed-minded, shallow and disgraceful human beings.

    I am appalled I have to share this planet with people so incapable of love and acceptance.


  • Tony


    Perhaps fat people could ‘love and accept’ that I would like to sit in my seat without having fat people invade my seat. Apologies if we have interupted your eating schedule.

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