Hawaiian Airlines faces an investigation by the Department of Transportation after allegedly discriminating against two overweight American Samoan businessmen during a flight from Honolulu. These passengers claim they were weighed before boarding the plane and were assigned different seats to distribute the airplane’s weight evenly.
This is apparently the airlines’ new policy to redistribute the weight in the airline’s Boeing 767 aircraft to meet the manufacturer’s guidelines to promote safe travel. Consequently, the airline would limit the number of adult passengers each row and allocate specific rows for young children.
However, Avamua Dave Haleck, one of the two businessmen who filed a complaint to DOT, insists that the new rule is still discriminatory because it is only enacted in flights to and from American Samoa. Haleck does not believe that safety is the issue here since he has been flying all his life without any problems involving his weight.
Alison Croyle, a spokeswoman for Hawaiian Airlines, told FoxNews.com that the alleged new airline policy of weighing passengers is not true. The spokeswoman asserts that the two complainants simply got mixed up during Hawaiian Airlines’ survey of weighing each passenger travelling between Hawaii and Pago Pago, the capital of the American Samoan.
“This action resulted from the recognition that over time, our fuel burn on Pago Pago (PPG) flights was consistently much higher than projected, indicating that our weight assumptions were inaccurate,” Croyle adds. “We review weights on any flight within our route network that demonstrates such a discrepancy.”
This policy could have been in response to the fact that American Samoa has the highest obesity rate in the world. Around 74.6 percent of its adult population is obese.
The Department of Transportation says that officials are now investigating the complaints of the two passengers.
Samoa Air became the first airline to charge passengers according to size in 2013. Passengers were required to pay for each kilo that they weighed, combined with their baggage.