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It's finally happened.

A small island-hopping airline says it has begun charging passengers by weight, according to media reports from around the world.

The carrier is tiny Samoa Air, which flies turboprop flights within the Samoan islands.

As for the carrier's weight-based pay scheme, the BBC reports "passengers pay a fixed price per kilogram, which varies depending on the route length."

ABC News appears to have broken the report, though it says Samoa Air apparently introduced the practice in January.

"People who have been most pleasantly surprised are families, because we don't charge on the seat requirement even though a child is required to have a seat, we just weigh them," Samoa Air Chris Langton tells Australia's ABC News radio.

"So a family of maybe two adults and a couple of mid-sized kids and younger children can travel at considerably less than what they were being charged before," he adds, according to Australia Network News.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Samoa Air's "rates vary depending on the distance flown: from $1 per kilogram on the airline's shortest domestic route to about $4.16 per kilogram for travel between Samoa and American Samoa. Passengers are then weighed again on scales at the airport, to check that they weren't fibbing online."

One kilogram equals about 2.2 pounds.

As background, the Morning Herald notes "Samoa has a serious obesity problem and is often included in the top 10 countries for obesity levels."

CEO Langton says he hopes his airline's policy "has raised the awareness of weight" in Samoa.

Langston adds to ABC News that charging by weight helps address safety concerns for the company's small Britten and Cessna aircraft.

"Aeroplanes don't run on seats, they run on weight," he says to ABC News. "The smaller the aircraft you're in, the less variance you can accept in terms of the differences in weights between passengers."

By Ben Mutzabaugh

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