Flyers with Bangkok Airways are being asked to step on the weighing scales before take-off.
Between 15 September and 31 October 2023, the airline is carrying out a passenger weight check at boarding gates. The check is for “weight and balance calculation purposes” and is “essential to the safety and efficiency” of flights, the airline said on its Facebook page.
Earlier this year Korean Air undertook a similar exercise and other airlines confirmed that they also have a responsibility to make the same checks. Air New Zealand also implemented its five-year checks in spring and early summer this year on flights taking off from Auckland in a survey that aimed at gathering 10,000 people’s weights.
In some cases, where passengers are asked to volunteer their weight instead of stepping on the scales, air staff are empowered to judge whether they think the passenger has given the correct figure, or not, and adapt it accordingly.
Passengers and their bags will be weighed in the standardisation exercise which is part of airline responsibilities set out by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Airlines and aviation authorities use standardized figures to then work out how much fuel planes need for their journey. The figures can vary around the world. The weight used by Air New Zealand, including carry-on bags, is around 93kg for men and 75kg for women, but for Korean Air it’s 81 kilos for the average man, while the average woman weighed in at 68.9 kilos. The standardized numbers that Bangkok Airways use will now be under review.
Why does weight matter?
The Independent has reported data showing that airlines often load about 1% more fuel than they need and as a consequence wind up burning up to 0.5% more of it. Euronews figures, reported by Travel Tomorrow earlier this year, indicate airlines spend more than €180 billion on fuel annually.
Collecting weight data for flyers means the amount of fuel needed for each flight can be calculated more accurately, resulting in significant fuel economies of up to US$1 billion (€944.6 million) annually, not to mention the ecological implications of carbon emission savings.
Bangkok Airways sought to reassure passengers that “the information will be kept confidential and will be used to update standard passenger and baggage information” and “verify that the aircraft’s total flying weight remains within the limits specified for takeoff and ensure flight safety.”
The official notice also points out that the checks are optional and completely random and no additional fees or charges will ensue.