Saturday, 10 February 2024 04:39

Airline announces it will now weigh passengers as well as their carry-on luggage

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An airline has announced it will begin weighing passengers with their carry-on luggage in order to better estimate the plane's weight before take-off.

The controversial move comes from Finnish carrier Finnair, who told media they began 'measuring' passengers departing from Helsinki on Monday.

'So far, more than 500 volunteer customers have participated in the weigh-ins,' spokeswoman Kaisa Tikkanen said.

Finnair, which services the UK with budget flights to and from Finland, noted in a statement airlines work out the weight of the plane, its interior and passengers on board to balance the flight and make for safe transit.

Airlines may use average weights provided by aviation authorities - assumed to be 88kg - or collect their own data, it said. 

Finnair assured potential passengers that collected data is not linked 'in any way' to customers' personal data in their statement.

'Only the customer service agent working at the measuring point can see the total weight, so you can participate in the study with peace of mind,' said Satu Munnukka, head of ground processes at Finnair.

But some social media users have been left 'horrified by the announcement, which they argue will lead to embarrassment for overweight passengers, describing the plan as 'cruel'. 

People said that the news meant that they would 'not flying Finnair any time soon,' while others welcomed the plan 'one way of solving the obesity crisis'.

One user has lashed out at the airline, stating that she would not be travelling via Finnair, because she 'won't be fat shamed by a bloody airline', adding that she never weighs herself out of choice. 

Another furious user said: 'Finnair are to start weighing their passengers? Have I read that correctly? I am utterly shocked! And disgusted'.

Others went as far as describing the move as 'draconian', with one user posting: 'Finnair’s weigh in rules are not about passenger safety. No airplane has ever crashed because of overweight passengers. This is draconian law and nanny state.'

Another user on X, formerly known as Twitter, saw a comical side to the announcement, and wrote: 'Finnair saying they will start weighing passengers is one of the funniest things I've ever heard in my life'.

The company told The Huffington Post that passengers would stand on a scale in all their clothes and with their carry-on luggage at the same time to get a combined reading. 

It is not just body weight Finnair are interested in, then, but the whole package. Communications director Päivyt Tallqvist told the outlet that Finns tend to bring a lot more weight onto the plane in colder months as they come prepared with thick, heavy coats.

'This is part of having a very strong safety culture in our organization,' Tallqvist said. 

'We want to see if the data we're using for calculations is accurate. We use them for every flight, and they're important for the aircraft's performance. 

'When you explain this to [passengers], they understand.' 

Weigh-ins will take place in February, April and May and are on a voluntary basis, the company said today. It was not clear why they would not measure travellers in March.

They will also take a note of age, gender and class of travel. 

Finnair are not the first airline to take the initiative and measure the weight of passengers themselves.

In August last year, Korea's largest airline, Korean Air, announced it would start weighing passengers at Gimpo Airport on domestic routes and Incheon Airport on international flights for a short period through September.

The company said the move was aimed at reducing wasted fuel and helping more accurately estimate the weight of the plane. 

A month prior, an easyJet flight from Lanzarote to Liverpool asked 19 passengers to get off the plane because it was deemed 'too heavy to take off'.

A spokesperson confirmed the incident in a statement, writing: 'easyJet can confirm that 19 passengers on flight EZY3364 from Lanzarote to Liverpool volunteered to travel on a later flight as a result of the aircraft being over the weight limits for the weather conditions.

'This is a routine operational decision in these circumstances and weight restrictions are in place for all airlines for safety reasons.'

The spokesperson said that in the event a plane is found to be too heavy to take off, passengers are asked to volunteer to transfer to a later flight free of charge, and volunteers are provided with compensation in line with regulations.

Airlines offer similar compensation when they oversell tickets for a flight and ask some passengers to volunteer to reschedule.

In the case of the Lanzarote to Liverpool flights, passengers were offered 'up to €500 per passenger', according to a crew member, citing easyJet.

In 2010, 58 per cent of Britons said they wanted overweight passengers to pay more to fly, according to research from Holiday Extras.

45 per cent believed it made no difference to them if an airline started charging extra based on weight, and six percent even said the measures would actively encourage them to fly more often.

In 2017, another poll by revealed nearly 90 per cent Britons believed overweight passengers should pay more to fly.

Nearly 80 per cent also said they thought 'plus-sized zones' should be introduced on flights. 


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