- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2016

Hawaiian Airlines may suffer bad PR for it, but the commercial carrier’s policy of requiring overweight passengers to sit in certain seats doesn’t violate federal law, the U.S. government has determined.

The Associated Press reported Friday that the airline adopted the policy in order to promote better fuel economy by ensuring a more even distribution of weight on planes runnings its 2,600-mile-long route between Honolulu, Hawaii and Pago Pago in American Samoa.

“Hawaiian Airlines’ policy of not offering preassigned seats on certain flights is not on its face discriminatory,” a Department of Transportation spokeswoman said in an email, according to the AP.

The airline doesn’t require similar seating arrangements on other routes, although an Hawaiian executive told the AP the company had studied it.

While some passengers on the route saw the move as discrimination, the airline says the action has helped to keep fares low while keeping more seats available on the average flight.

“What they’re doing is logistically the most sensible thing under unique circumstances,” said travel blogger Gary Leff, AP reported.

In 2013, the World Health Organization reported that an astonishing 94 percent of the population of the U.S. territory was overweight. The same year, Samoa Air instituted airfares based in part on passenger weight, but that company only operates small jets and only flies in Samoa and internationally between Samoa and American Samoa.

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