Finnair Will Weigh Some Passengers Before Flights

Nov 1, 2017

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Check-in, baggage drop and security — just a few things passengers have to deal with when flying. Now, stepping on a scale could be added to the list. 

Finnair has announced a program to weigh passengers before they board flights. This may sound alarming and even offensive to some, but fortunately Finnair has said participation will be voluntary.

Over the course of November, Finnair will ask at least 150 travelers departing from Helsinki (HEL) airport if they can weigh themselves and their baggage. The Finnish carrier will use the data to more accurately calculate an aircraft’s average weight and balance.

Right now the Oneworld airline is still using data and standards from 2009 provided by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Finnair wants more updated and relevant information, not generalized numbers from EASA.

An aircraft’s weight can determine how much fuel it burns — and jet fuel is one of the biggest costs of an airline. With more accurate weights airlines can better predict how much a flight will cost and increase operational efficiency.

Finnair’s media relations director Päivyt Tallqvist told YLE News the reasoning behind the study:

“Loads are different in the summer, for example, when people don’t have their winter jackets and shoes and other paraphernalia. There is also a considerable seasonal difference in hand luggage weight for business and leisure travelers.”

The scales will measure the total weight of the passenger and any hand luggage they are carrying. And for those worried about privacy, Tallaqvist said that “no one but the customer service provider will see the results, which will be entered into the database anonymously.”

In addition to weight Finnair will collect the customer’s age, gender, reason for travel, class of service and whether they had checked-in luggage. Finnair is one of 15 airlines worldwide flying the Airbus A350. It flies the A330 to the US, where it serves New York JFK, Chicago O’Hare (ORD), San Francisco (SFO) and Miami (MIA).

Tallqvist hopes to woo 150 travelers into the program’s first phase, and once that is complete the airline will determine how much more data it needs. She predicts that between 1,000 and 1,500 will need to participate in the study before it’s over.

Other airlines have garnered media attention for weighing their passengers, including the now defunct Samoa Air, which actually based the price of a ticket on the passenger’s weight. Hawaiian Airlines also weighed passengers on its Honolulu (HNL) to Pago Pago (PPG) route in order to properly distribute weight around the aircraft for safety reasons.

Featured image by Vladimir Floyd/Getty.  

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