Finnair has started weighing passengers at the gate prior to departure. The company is doing so in order to be able to refine its weight estimates for planes before takeoff. It is not the first airline do carry out weight checks, but just like Air New Zealand last year, Finnair isn’t obliging anyone to get on the scales, only volunteers are weighed.
The Finnair weighing takes place at Helsinki Airport, the airline’s headquarters. Passengers who volunteer are asked to step on the scales together with their carry-on luggage. Päivyt Tallqvist, the airline’s senior vice president for communications, assured CNN only the member of staff present at the gate will be able to connect the weight with a face. After that, all data is anonymous and will in no way be linked to the passenger’s identity or ticket. People who try to sneak an overweight carry-on onto the plane therefore don’t really have to worry about getting caught.
The process started on Monday, 5 February, and by Thursday, 8 February, a “surprising” number of 800 travellers had already agreed to be weighed. The goal of weighing 1,200 passengers this winter is therefore already in sight, while another test will take place in the summer.
“We have communicated about this survey to Finnair customers via our social media channels and our mobile app, and the first volunteers were proactively asking to take part even before the equipment was set up”, Tallqvist told CNN. According to her, the data is important for the purpose of aircraft balance and performance calculations that are needed for the safe operation of flights.
Airlines tend to rely on averages provided by the European Aviation Safety Authority for passengers’ weight, but those lack precision. For example, passengers and their carry-on tend to weigh more during winter than in the summer months. Finnair started using its own data in 2018 but the numbers need to be updated every five years, which is why the airline is weighing passengers again. The data will then be verified by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency and be used for flights from 2025 until 2030.