Weighing In on Samoa Air’s New Policy

Posted on April 3, 2013 by Blane Bachelor

By now, you’ve surely heard about Samoa Air, a tiny airline in the Pacific Islands, and its newly implemented pay-what-you-weigh policy for ticket pricing.

Under the airline’s new policy, which went into effect on April 2, passengers are be charged a fixed rate per kilogram, from about $1 to $4.16, depending on routes. There are no extra bag fees, just a simple scale based directly on weight.

Not surprisingly, reactions have been mixed about the news — The Guardian writer Ally Fogg called the policy “dehumanising and degrading“. But Chris Langton, the airline’s chief executive, has been widely quoted as saying that this is “the fairest way of traveling,” and we here at Girls Who Get Around tend to agree. (Just ask Beth, after a disastrous red-eye experience earlier this year.)

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that more weight, whether in a suitcase or someone’s midsection, means more fuel consumption, which means more money. (And, considering that Samoa Air only has three tiny puddle-jumpers in its inventory, the business model makes sense for the airline.) Plus, for those traveling with children, the new Samoa Air policy offers a chance to save some serious coin. Langton also says that the policy will help promote a greater awareness of health in Samoa, a country with one of the highest obesity rates on the planet.

And yet … there’s a fat chance this will ever take off with larger airlines. Although airlines including Southwest, United, and JetBlue already have policies in place that if passengers can’t fit into the seat with both armrests down and the seatbelt fastened, they must buy two tickets, a pay-as-you-weigh policy would be difficult at best and a disaster at worst. I mean, who hasn’t shaved off a pound or 10 on their driver’s license – how would airlines be able to distinguish between what passengers report and their actual weight? And overweight or not, can you image the trauma of stepping on a scale in front of ticket agents? (Although one savvy commenter on CNN.com’s story suggested adopting what the military sometimes does: Weigh the passenger and his baggage at the same time.)

That said, it’s high time that airlines take a closer look at this issue, and figure out a more equitable, hospitable, and humane way to price fares. It’s not fair to the travelers who find their precious space encroached upon by an overweight traveler, yet it also doesn’t seem quite fair to double the cost for overweight travelers. There’s a thin line, after all, between discrimination and profitability.


Bring Your Own Big Wheel: The Wackiest Easter Party Imaginable

Posted on March 21, 2013 by Blane Bachelor

I promise, these photos really don't even do the real thing justice.

I promise, photos don’t even come close to doing the real thing justice.

If you’re looking to make a weekend getaway over Easter, here’s one very strong reason to consider San Francisco: the chance to watch hundreds of costumed, crazy adults barreling down one of the city’s twistiest, steepest streets — on Big Wheels.

Bring Your Own Big Wheel, which takes place on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, is one of the most fantastically zany events SF has to offer — and that’s saying a lot for this whacked-out city. BYOBW, which was started by some of the same folks behind Burning Man, takes place in Potrero Hill, on Vermont Street, which is Lombard’s lesser-known but equally twisted sister. (The ensuing insanity on Lombard apparently inconvenienced snooty Russian Hill residents en route to their botox treatments or wine country weekend mansions, so it was moved to the much ‘hipper hood of Potrero a few years back.)

Last year, Chris and I just watched from the sidelines (which is pretty exciting on its own — check out the video I made below), avoiding the wreckage from flying plastic and me trying not to wet my pants from laughing. This year, however, we’re planning on racing. However, being the top-rate procrastinators that we are, we’ve just now started to look for some used wheels, which apparently are pretty hard to come by in these parts this time of year (and I’m sure as heck not dropping cash for brand-new Big Wheels. Watch the video and you’ll see why.).

So, as either participants or spectators, we’ll be there again next Sunday, reveling in the magic and insanity of such a uniquely San Franciscan event. Chocolate bunnies, Peeps, and grown people on Big Wheels — I can’t imagining celebrating Easter any other way.

Bring Your Own Big Wheel in San Francisco

Today is Passport Day in the USA 2013

Posted on March 9, 2013 by Beth Yost

Today marks the 5th annual Passport Day in the USA hosted by the Department of State.

(photo courtesy of Daniel Clayton Greer via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

(photo courtesy of Daniel Clayton Greer via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

What’s the point of Passport Day in the USA? It’s the only day of the year when travelers can walk right into a passport agency or non-department passport accepting facility and apply directly — no appointment, no snail mail. How efficient and convenient! Wow, go US Government!

Well, there is a bit of a kerfuffle this year.


10 Quotes from Women Travelers, in Honor of International Women’s Day

Posted on March 8, 2013 by Blane Bachelor

Today is International Women’s Day, in case you haven’t noticed from the myriad of women-centric posts, Tweets, and stories that have exploded all over the Internet. And we’re adding to the tsunami – with a travel twist, of course – with these inspirational quotes from some of the most spectacular women on the globe, both alive and dearly departed.

Read, enjoy, and go give an amazing woman in your life a hug – or, better yet, a plane ticket to somewhere supremely awesome.

Happy International Women's Day to all of the wonderful girls who get around.

Happy International Women’s Day to all of our fellow Girls Who Get Around.


TSA: Knives in Carry On Luggage Ok, Plus Golf Clubs, Bats, and Hockey Sticks

Posted on March 6, 2013 by Blane Bachelor

TSA allows knives and bats

Please, please, please let these be next on the ok list …

It’s time for yet another slow clap for the geniuses at TSA, which recently announced that it will now allow small knives and sports equipment, including hockey sticks, golf clubs, and small bats, as carry-on baggage.

TSA’s allowance of small knives – specified as those with non-locking blades of less than 6 centimeters – is a little unsettling, but with locked cockpits and armed pilots days, it’s pretty unlikely that anyone could hijack a plane with a Swiss Army knife.

What’s more troublesome is the bulky sports equipment. As if the overhead bins weren’t crowded enough, now we have to contend with hockey sticks, golf clubs, and bats seriously jacking up the mix – and threatening to crash down on unsuspecting passengers when bins are opened.

Passenger rights groups and associations that represent flight attendants told the Los Angeles Times that the move, which takes effect on April 25, is a “poorly thought out decision” and “a recipe for disaster.”

Maybe so, but as we see it, there are two possible upsides of the TSA’s move: 1) Flight attendants should be allowed to use a now-allowed hockey stick or golf club to move things along when those inevitable slowpokes unnecessarily jam up the aisle while boarding.

2) DOES THIS MEAN THAT CORKSCREWS WILL NOW BE ALLOWED IN CARRY-ON LUGGAGE? If that’s the case, you just might see us raising a glass (of Duty-Free wine that we purchased post-security, brought on board, and opened ourselves, thank you very much) to the TSA.

Photo credit to Flickr/Skazama.


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