DETROIT (CBS Detroit) It turns out the highly publicized “pay what you weigh” flights through Samoa Air don’t fly in Michigan.

WWJ legal analyst Charlie Langton reports Michigan is the only state in the country where weight discrimination is illegal. Height is protected from discrimination, too, in the Elliot Larson Civil Rights Act of 1976.

“Essentially, Michigan loves fat people,” Langton said.

Samoa Air, on the other hand, does not. Saying fuel costs are based on weight, the airline created a weight-based fare schedule, writing on its website, “Your weight plus your baggage items is what you pay for. Simple.”

Passengers and their luggage are weighed at check-in. Everyone gets 2 percent of “wiggle room” if their initial weight estimate isn’t perfect.

Chris Langton, Samoa Air chief executive, said travelers have been receptive, adding to CNN, “What makes airplanes work is weight. We are not selling seats, we are selling weight.”

Others say it’s an unfair — and illegal — “fat tax.” In fact, Charlie Langton says if your boss says you have to lose a few pounds, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights may take your case.

Langton said technically the anti-weight-discrimination law applies only to employment, but if Samoa Air decided to fly to Michigan with, say, flight attendants who had to adhere to weight restrictions, that plane would never get off the ground.

Samoa Air is a tiny carrier that only travels between Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Niue, Tokelau, the North Cook Islands and Wallis and Futuna islands in French Polynesia.

But in the works, according to CNN, is a much larger Airbus to whisk travelers to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.


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