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Weighing In On Airlines Weighing Passengers

file photo (credit: Getty Images)

file photo (credit: Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – You thought being charged extra for your bags on an airplane was awful. How about for the baggage around your middle? Is it legal for airlines to charge you per pound you weigh?

Samoan Air announced plans last month to add an XL class for its larger customers to provide larger seats. Sounds awesome. Except that it’s going to start weighing all passengers and then charging them per pound they weigh. Sounds awful! But is it illegal?

Some claim that it’s a violation of privacy to be weighed on a baggage scale near other passengers. To determine if there’s an invasion of privacy, you’d need to ask if you have an expectation of privacy. And in an airport in 2013 the answer to that is a resounding no. But more importantly, the airline is telling you in advance to expect it. So you couldn’t claim your privacy is invaded.

Others say it’s discriminatory – but being overweight is not protected against bad treatment under the law. And everyone, no matter gender, age, or weight is weighed. So the treatment is the same as others. The fact that you pay a different price than someone else doesn’t make it illegal. Infuriating. But not illegal.

And while Samoan Air is the first to implement the policy since the nation has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, we’ll see how long it takes other airlines to follow suit.

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