Airlines might weigh passengers

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agouderia

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This discussion has been around for about 15-20 years by now and is a favorite pet child of all fat bashers.

The only known case to enforce it was Samoa Air, a tiny "airline" that operated 2012-2015 between Samoa and American Samoa. Apart from gaining international publicity, the reasons there were that they flew tiny planes over long open-water stretches and were more of a cargo airline anyway. In addition, Samoa is known for having one of the highest obesity rates in the world. So determining the exact weight of what goes on board made sense for safety reasons and offset the additional procedural costs.

The latter is what has turned the issue into the proverbial "dead horse" for the actual airline industry. Because apart from the potential public fall-out over fat-shaming and discrimination controversies, the logistic hurdles of enforcing it in a legally incontestable way literally outweigh any possible benefits by far.

Just imagine the logistical nightmare of weighing passengers at the airport - which would generate huge additional labor costs for ground personnel in times when online check-in has become the main modus operandi. It would also mean the actual weight figures - passengers plus cargo - would reach pilots and handlers way too late in the process, either extending turn-around time (extremely expensive!) or not leaving enough time to make sound calculations for aircraft fleight safety.

Bottom line - this issue is an excellent example of economic and security reality by far trumping ideological zeal.

Why did you bring this up again now? Without referencing some recent media source that this actually is a current debate?
 

agouderia

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Aha - thank you for that reference.

But as so often, this is pretty inaccurate & sensationalist media reporting.

It's not the airlines that want to weigh passengers - it's the FAA that wants to do a large scale data survey to help update their dated data bases. Knowing what we know about the FAA's data bases since the 737 Max issue that probably is a good idea.

The airlines themselves - that have to take care of the lives and safety of their passengers and crews on a daily basis - have long since come up with more precise and realistic data pools for calculating take-off and in flight weights. From (health and life) insurance records we know for instance that the combination of age and postcode - data passengers have to supply on booking a plane ticket - offer relatively precise estimates regarding average height and weight.
I've also heard from European airline pilots that they for instance add 20% to the average weight estimates of US citizen passengers when calculating transatlantic flights.

Because once again - weighing passengers at the gate is way, way too late in the process of preparing any flight for take-off to be of real use. Apart from the obvious facts of bad publicity and disgruntled passengers......

Weighing airline passengers is one of these issues that comes up regularly but is situated somewhere between urban myth, slow news time fodder and perpetual fat bashing staple.
 
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jrose123

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This is a sick, sadistic act. Passenger weight has never been a concern on planes before. But, when you rearrange a plane meant to carry 100 passengers to carry 125, space and weight are the second third behind profit. Didnt airlines receive govt subsidies to assure their operations? That's how they went from making a profit to making huge profits. It's legal, but you can't pick whom to weight. Everyone has to be weighed, the skinny, kids and anything breathing. Everyone needs to be miserable and inconvenienced. Now, if certain people purchase more than one seat, will they stop over booking and disregarding customers who purchase more than one seat? Which is weighs less, someone who purchases two tickets for one body or two bodies and two tickets? 14 inch wide seat with 12 inches of legroom is uncomfortable for anorexics, too.
 

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Few points here as I need to star working for an aviation related article that is being prepared since last year:

The number of the seats on an aircraft is set during the design phase of an aircraft and is determined during certification trials. The number is the maximum number of passengers that can evacuate the aircraft in 90'' using half the available exits. The people participating on those trials need to be a representative sample of the travelling public. And yes airlines like to squeeze more seats to lower the price to respond to the way people choose the ticket. May I remind everybody here the American Airlines initiative to increase the leg room about 20 years ago with a corresponding increase in fares. People didn't like it, AA took it back.

I used to have a file (long lost) of passenger weight at various airport. Unfortunately I don't remember how they arrive with the sample.

It is not easy to determine an actual weight for passenger (man / woman / child) as it may depend on season, route flown and type of operation. A red-eye flight on Tuesday morning between lets say Munich and Torino would have a completely different set of passengers than a Saturday morning flight from Northern Germany to the Greek island of Kos - completely random example. Less families on the flight to Torino, less cabin baggage there too, more kids on the latter case.

If I am not mistaken there is a weight difference on the passenger weight for summer and winter season currently.

Airlines have excellent statistical data for fuel consumption purposes. I seriously doubt they need to weigh the passengers. And they are good to fly their usual routes without too many unscheduled fuel stops due to the additional weight.
 

PeartyB

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I hate this so much, I can't begin to tell you how angry this makes me

Just picking beautiful people to embarrass like this

So wrong, infuriating

Hopefully just news beat up as always
 

DazzlingAnna

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Well, i am definitely not a fan of any kind of public weighing but in this case I'd go with airline physics and security - or I wouldn't go and see this place.

from the article @op user posted:

PUBLISHED ON 6TH SEPTEMBER 2019 AT 11:13


We fly the Dash 8 Q200 – a 36 seat narrow body turboprop – on our flights to Lord Howe Island. And if we have more than 27 passengers on any flight, everyone needs to be weighed before getting onboard.

So if you get asked Howe (see what we did there) much you weigh, it’s not personal, but it does help our pilots to determine the correct amount of fuel needed as well as to ensure we have capacity for freight.
 

agouderia

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I hate this so much, I can't begin to tell you how angry this makes me

Just picking beautiful people to embarrass like this

So wrong, infuriating

Hopefully just news beat up as always
Not to be impolite - but what is it about this issue that makes the pro-fat crowd immediately go paranoid and not read things properly or think?

Yes - this is a press release from Quantas, Australia's national carrier. Nevertheless, it is a fact based, neutral and non fat-discriminatory description of the specific regulations on a flight route to a tiny, remote island, where small turbo-prop aircrafts fly far stretches over open water.

So once again, we are not talking about (evil) airlines weighing passengers to fat-shame them - but about the South Sea exemption, where getting exact weight figures is crucial for flight safety.
Quantas - like all other commercial passenger carriers - is no closer to weighing passengers on regular jet flights than 15 years ago, when the issue first popped up in the media.

On the contrary, for structural reasons - less ground staff, more digitalization - it has become less likely.

Instead of continously taking the phantom bait, it would be better to call out fat-bashers for their ignorance about the airline industry .......
 

tonynyc

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I think that there are several things to consider when examining the issue of weighing passengers.
1. This has to be done respectfully.
2. Privacy concerns - what happens to this data ( in cases of data breach) - and or will it be sold to 3rd parties
 

SSBHM

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With carry-on luggage there is a tremendous fluctuation caused by that element, but most planes have a leveling indicator that would indicate that weight was disproportionately shifted. I'm inclined to not be in favor as a pre-purchase practice of indicating weight, but if the plane could not be properly balanced volunteers might be requested to move after boarding.
 

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