“How much do you weigh” is a question most people would find offensive unless they are bodybuilders. There is a lot of stigmas put on weight in our culture. However, some airline companies are considering weighing passengers before they board a plane.

Passengers who are obese sometimes need to take up two seats. Some companies actually require them to buy two tickets in order to keep everyone comfortable [1]. The policy is normally based on whether or not the person can comfortably sit in the passenger seat with the armrest down. On full flights, this may result in passengers having to reschedule their flights.

With airlines shrinking the sizes of airline seats to fit more passengers, and the waistlines of many Americans growing, where do airlines draw the line for passenger’s comfort and to meet flying requirements?

Fuel for planes is incredibly expensive. The costs are also rising exponentially every year. Packages are weighed before they enter the plane. With some people carrying hundreds of pounds more than the other ones, where do airlines draw the line?

 One British start up has plans in the works to discretely weigh passengers in order to cut down on costs. Roy Fuscone is the CEO and founder of FuelMatrix.

The company proposed installing discrete weighing pads that weighs passengers before they enter the plane. This helps the crew to know how much fuel the plane needs before they take off.

They would be installed at check in, or at the self-service luggage drop offs. This helps them to not appear insensitive to customers.

The addition of weighing passengers could help the flights to be more environmentally conscious, with less fuel use. It will also help with flight safety beforehand.

Airlines currently rely on outdated averages to estimate the fuel needed for each trip. This is 88kg (13.8 stone) for men, 70kg (11 stone) for women and 35kg (5.5 stone) for children.

However, reports say that these estimates are currently inaccurate. It can cause an excess use of fuel. If fuel amounts are accurately estimated before the plane takes off, then it can mean savings of up to s £750 million worldwide.

Says Nick Brasier, the chief operating officer,

“”We’re not suggesting people should stand on the scales, but airports could fit ‘pressure pads’ in the bag-drop area in front of each screen.

“After the bag has been checked in, the system can ask, ‘Are you standing on the pressure pad?’.

“If the passenger taps ‘Yes’, then the weight can be recorded and passed confidentially to the airline.”[3]

This method helps to protect overweight customers from potential embarrassment. They won’t be charged extra. The airlines will simply be told how many pounds they are expecting to be carrying, and then they will adjust their fuel use according to the measurements the pads tell them. Precise and accurate measures of weight will be a big step in potentially saving billions on flights. Passengers may be able to enjoy lower ticket prices or updated planes because of this.

References:

  1. Airline Obesity Policies: Will You Be Forced to Buy an Extra Seat?, Independent Traveler, Apr 16, 2019
  2. How Are Airlines Adjusting to Higher Jet Fuel Prices?, Woodrow Bellamy III, Avionics International, August 24, 2018
  3. Passengers Could Be Weighed At Airports To Cut Down Fuel Costs, Daisy Phillipson, Avionics International, April 18, 2019
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