Air New Zealand launches passenger weight survey for data collection

Air New Zealand is asking passengers on international flights from Auckland to step on the scale as part of a data collection initiative aiming to enhance flight safety.
Daniel Lehewych
Air New Zealand 777

Air New Zealand has begun a new protocol that might surprise some passengers: asking them to step on the scale. The weight check, part of what the airline calls a passenger weight survey, will take place on international flights departing from Auckland International Airport until July 2, 2023.

Stepping on the Scale: Air New Zealand's New Data Collection Initiative

What is the rationale for this unusual procedure? It's all about data. Alastair James, the airline's load control improvement specialist, explained, "We weigh everything that goes on the aircraft – from the cargo to the meals onboard, to the luggage in the hold. We use average weights for customers, crew, and cabin bags, which we get from this survey."

James added that this is a familiar initiative. The airline conducted a similar survey for domestic passengers in 2021, but the international survey was delayed because of the pandemic. The weight check will be particularly significant on the airline's flagship route from Auckland to New York City's JFK Airport, one of the longest flights in the world.

Ensuring Passenger Privacy during the Weight Survey

Getting weighed before a flight may not sit well with some passengers, but the airline has taken steps to ensure privacy. James states, "We know stepping on the scales can be daunting. So we want to reassure our customers there is no visible display anywhere. No one can see your weight, not even us."

In addition to weighing the passengers, their luggage will be placed on a separate scale. The airline insists that the collected data will remain anonymous and not be visible on the agent's screen.

This new procedure seems peculiar to some. Still, it is one of the airline's methods better to understand the weight load and distribution of planes. This data, collected over time, can be used to adjust operations and enhance flight safety.\

The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority has requested this initiative, indicating the national importance of collecting accurate weight data. Given the national significance of this survey, it'll be interesting to see if other countries' aviation authorities follow suit.

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