Here’s why airlines weigh passengers

Stepping on the scale can be a stressful experience for many people. Whether it’s the fear of judgment or the anxiety of seeing a number that may not align with our expectations, weighing ourselves can often be an emotionally charged activity. Now, imagine being asked to step on the scale just before boarding a flight. That’s exactly what some Finnair passengers may encounter in the coming months at Helsinki Airport in Finland.

Finnair has announced a voluntary program in which passengers can weigh themselves at the departure gate. The information collected will be used to calculate the collective weight of consenting passengers and their carry-on belongings. While the program is optional, the airline hopes that enough passengers will participate to provide valuable data on weight and balance.

Why would an airline want to collect this information? The answer lies in the importance of weight and balance in safely operating an aircraft. Every airplane has a weight and balance program that must be followed to ensure the safety and efficiency of the flight. This program takes into account the weight of the plane itself, as well as the weight of the fuel, equipment, cargo, and passengers. If the weight distribution is not properly balanced, it can affect the aircraft’s performance and stability.

By collecting data on passenger weights, airlines can accurately calculate the total weight of the aircraft and distribute it evenly. This is particularly important in situations where an aircraft is operating in extreme weather conditions, such as high temperatures. In these cases, the weight of the aircraft can affect its ability to take off and climb over obstacles.

While the practice of weighing passengers may seem controversial to some, it is actually fairly standard within the airline industry. In the US, airlines can determine the average passenger weight from surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, airlines are also allowed to weigh passengers at any given time, as stated in an advisory circular from the Federal Aviation Administration.

In the cases of Finnair, Korean Air, and Air New Zealand, the carriers are following mandates from their respective countries that require them to periodically update their calculations for average passenger weight. This data is used to ensure that weight and balance calculations are accurate and up to date. The information collected is confidential and anonymous, with no personal data linked to the weight measurements.

While the idea of being weighed at the airport may be uncomfortable for some, it is a necessary practice to ensure the safety and efficiency of air travel. Passengers can participate in these programs with peace of mind, knowing that their information will be used solely for the purpose of calculating weight and balance. So the next time you step on a scale at the airport, remember that it’s just another way airlines are working to keep us safe in the skies.

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