$29 One-Way Fares for the Very Light and Very Gullible

About a year ago “This is That”, a Canadian show hosted by Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring, ran an episode in which they spoke to the CEO of Atlanta-based North Gulf Air. The CEO, Clarence Hickey, was on the show to discuss a new fee the airline had introduced – namely a charge-by-the-pound fee based not only on the weight of the passenger’s luggage, but on the weight of the passenger him or herself.

According to Mr. Hickey, tickets on North Gulf Air cost just $29 one-way between any of the destinations the airline serves, however:

The $29 flat rate includes 90 pounds of passenger travel. So what that means is, if a passenger is 90 pounds or under and they are traveling with no additional luggage well then they get to take advantage of truly America’s least expensive airline rate.

And if they exceed the 90 pound limit? Mr. Hickey explains that the passenger is then charged an additional $2.50 for every pound over.

City-Data forum members, having stumbled upon this interview only recently, are engaged in quite an intense discussion about this North Gulf Air policy. And while the discussion is actually pretty interesting, the original story is a spoof.

From the “About” page on the ThisisThat website:

This Is That is a current affairs program that doesn’t just talk about the issues, it fabricates them.

Despite being based on a completely satirical sendup of the ridiculousness of airline ala carte fees, the discussion is still a good read. Oh sure, it devolves into the occasional fat bashing, but for the most part it’s a thoughtful discussion, with some interesting information and ideas being shared.

Yet another thing that would tick passengers off. No, not a good or practical idea. People are hassled and abused enough as it is without the added stress of stepping on a scale. ~FlightAttendant

The policy is not supposed to punish/reward someone for its lifestyle or general health. It is about paying the fuel that is used to transport you from A to B. ~botticelli

I did find some calculations for a hypothetical 737 flying Boston to Denver. Empty, the typical plane would cost $6600 in fuel to make the trip. At 85% capacity (122 passengers), about $7900. Or a little more than $10 a passenger. I do not see how an airline could justify $2.50 per pound over a certain price point, if the TOTAL cost of a passenger was relatively around $10. That seems exhorbitant. Of course, thats the point isn’t it? To create one more exorbitant fee on passengers, justified by some “cost” to operating the flight, but really intended to bring in higher profits. ~Checkered24

Y’all do realize that the cut off weight of 90 lbs means CHILDREN will be flying really cheap……Be much more economical to take those kiddies on vacation now ~njkate

It’s a gimmick like Spirit Air to try to rope people in with unbelievable bargain fares which end up being priced more than a ticket on a regular airline after all the additional fees. They push these fees to the check in so that people are stuck paying them since they’ve already bought the ticket and committed to the trip. What’s likely is this airline will charge a flat rate one can pay to avoid the embarrassment of being weighed. ~rzzzz

Is “This is That” putting them on, or are they putting me on? 🙂

Actually, some City-Data forum members point out pretty early in the conversation that the article is a spoof. But the conversation continues – perhaps more as a thought experiment, but still highly entertaining.

Read the thread in its entirety: Should airlines charge according to passenger weight?

And listen to the very funny “interview” with the CEO of North Gulf Air in its entirety: Airline to start charging passengers for their total body and luggage weight

Bathroom Scale” by -Paul H-. CC BY 2.0.


  1. I like the way you think Manda. There’s something “there” there. If one airline would just do something to really woo parents traveling with kids, not only would many families switch to that airline, but all of the others would become relatively kid-free … a win-win.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.