Finnish airline Finnair recently began a program to monitor weight on its flights by weighing passengers before they board the plane. The new procedure is in place to gather data about how weight affects their operations.
It should be noted that the company does not force passengers to reveal their measurements to the world, though most people are game to participate. About 180 travelers volunteered so far.
"So many people wanted to take part in this," said Paivyt Tallqvist, director for media relations at Finnair, noting that the weigh-ins are voluntary and anonymous. "No one is forced on the scale.”
The program will run intermittently into 2018 to gain a clearer picture of the average weight of people who patronize Finnair; carry-on baggage is also thrown into the mix with passengers required to hold it on the scale with them.
The goal of this new endeavor is to collect more modern data for weight calibration practices. Usually, the benchmarks are provided by the European Aviation Safety Agency, which calculates 88kg for a male passenger, 70kg for a female, 35kg for a child - plus carry-on bags for each. But their information is based on numbers from 2009. Finnair wants to stay on course with these new figures.
"The weight of the aircraft impacts on so many things," including fuel levels and the speed and balance of the aircraft, said Tallqvist. "We just want to verify that the data we are using is as accurate as possible.”
Finnair is aiming to get around 2,000 weigh-ins from passengers (men, women, and children) and will continue the study into the changing seasons, considering the weight fluctuations caused by coats and excess baggage during the winter months.
"All airlines have their own routes which may differ greatly in terms of passenger profile," he said. "Corporate travelers often have different amounts of carry-on baggage than leisure travelers, and there are differences in weights of males and females,” a Finnair representative told the BBC.
Weighing In On Other Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines came under fire last year when it was alleged that they were weighing passengers on their flight between Honolulu and Pago Pago in American Samoa. The airline was accused of marginalizing Samoan people on this particular route. Samoans have among the highest rates of obesity in the world.
However, six complaints were filed with the US Department of Transportation with regards to the practice.
Hawaiian airlines stated at the time claiming it was down to a voluntary six-month passenger weight survey.
“Using FAA protocols, a survey was conducted on all of our PPG flights during a six-month period beginning in February. During this timeframe only, all passengers along with their carry-on luggage to be weighed. The survey results confirmed that our aircraft cabin weight was heavier than projected. This requires us to manage the distribution of weight across each row in our cabin, and we have elected to do so by making sure that one seat in each row is either empty or occupied by a traveler under the age of 13," said Hawaiian Airlines at the time.