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Airline weighing passengers before they board

Passengers go through security at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. (Ellen M. Banner/Seattle Times/TNS)
February 09, 2024

Finnair started weighing passengers and their carry-on luggage this week as the Finnish airline pushes for a more accurate weight measurement for its flights prior to take-off.

In a statement obtained by Barrons, Finnair spokeswoman Kaisa Tikkanen announced, “Measurements began at Helsinki Airport this week on Monday … So far, more than 500 volunteer customers have participated in the weigh-ins.”

The airline explained that the voluntary weigh-ins are currently scheduled to take place in February, April, and May. According to Finnair, for the airline to have accurate flight balance calculations, the company has to take into consideration the “weight of the aircraft itself and the weight of fuel, checked baggage and cargo, onboard catering, water tanks, and of course customers,” Finnair said.

“We use the weighing data for the average calculations required for the safe operation of flights, and the collected data is not linked in any way to the customer’s personal data,” Satu Munnukka, head of Finnair’s ground processes, noted.

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According to Munnukka, Finnair will not ask passengers participating in the volunteer weigh-ins for either their booking number or their name in an effort to preserve privacy. Munnukka added, “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.”

According to The New York Post, other airlines that have weighed passengers include Air New Zealand, Korean Air, Hawaiian Air, and Uzbekistan Airways. The Daily Caller reported that Air New Zealand requested over 10,000 travelers participate in a weight survey in May of 2023.

Flight experts have warned that an increase in heavier passengers can have a direct impact on the safety of commercial flights.

Shem Malmquist, a Florida Tech College of Aeronautics instructor, told CNBC, “Three hundred people that weigh more than average can put an airplane significantly over weight, and all of our performance calculations — runway length, climb, obstacle clearance, landing distances, altitude capabilities — all are dependent on weight, among other things.”