In response to a rising number of obese passengers several airlines, including Thailand’s Bangkok Airways, are temporarily implementing a new practice – weighing passengers before they board their flights. The airlines claim the data is crucial for accurately calculating the aircraft’s take-off weight, ensuring flight safety.
They say, as the average weight of their passengers has risen sharply over recent years, they need to reassess their averages when calculating aircraft take-off weight.
A recent study conducted by RMIT University in Australia revealed that obesity is becoming a growing issue worldwide, and it’s on the rise. To address this concern, airlines are adjusting the average weights of male and female passengers periodically to improve the accuracy of take-off weight calculations.
At this stage, the airlines stress, there is no plans to charge heavier or larger individual passengers a ‘weight’ surcharge.
This weight adjustment is especially vital for wide-bodied aircraft, which can carry 300+ passengers. Even a small error, like a one-kilogram mistake in the average passenger weight, can result in an aircraft carrying 300 kilograms more than estimated, leading to an incorrect take-off weight.
The US Federal Aviation Administration has updated the average passenger weights to 88.4 kilograms for males and 70.3 kilograms for females, based on a survey conducted in 2017. This adjustment reflects the changing demographics of air travellers.
More than sixty years ago, when the US federal standards on the strength of airplane seats and seat belts were written, US government regulations specified that seats be designed for a passenger weight of 77 kilograms. But now the average American man weighs nearly 88 kilograms and the average woman 75 kilograms.
Bangkok Airways recently joined the airlines adopting this practice, requesting passengers’ cooperation in voluntarily stepping on the scales before boarding. Air New Zealand had already weighed over 10,000 passengers since June this year, and Finnair and Hawaiian Airlines have previously implemented similar measures. Korean Airlines have also undertaken a passenger weighing program for similar reasons recently.
It’s important to note that these weight checks are usually temporary and not mandatory, relying on passengers’ willingness to participate.