Weighing Passengers


Is weighing passengers before a flight going to become the norm? Imagine this: you arrive at the airport, you head to the airline counter to check-in and weigh your luggage…and then you’re asked to step on the scale yourself. This is exactly what Finnair, Finland’s largest airline, is asking passengers to do.


Why The Need For Weighing Airline Passengers?

Now, if you’re wondering why Finnair is weighing passengers and whether they’re looking to implement passenger weight limits on planes –this isn’t the case.

Finnair is surveying passenger weight to more accurately calculate weight, fuel and safety needs.

“We have a strong safety culture at Finnair and are also a very data-driven organization, so we want to ensure that we have the best possible data in use in aircraft performance and loading calculations,” said a Finnair representative.  

It’s important to note that the weigh-in process is completely voluntary. The numbers are anonymous and confidential. Also, there will not be any kind of penalization for passengers who do not wish to step on the scale and they will still be able to travel.1


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New Passenger Weight Equals New Data

Currently, most airlines use the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) standard passenger weight estimates to calculate an aircraft’s fuel levels, speed and balance. However, this data is proving problematic due the fact that it’s based on research conducted in 2009. The EASA estimates the average weight of a male to be 84.6kg (186 lbs), a female to be 66.5kg (146 lbs), and a child to be 30.7kg (67 lbs).2

“The weight of the aircraft impacts on so many things,” said Finnair’s Director for Media Relations, Päivyt Tallqvist. “We just want to verify that the data we are using is as accurate as possible.”3

The EASA’s data also hides a range of variables, such as: men travelling in first class tend to weigh more than those travelling economy. Meanwhile, women who travel in first class tend to weigh less than those travelling economy. As well, the average carry-on weight around 6.1 kg, though that number decreases in the summer, and men tend to carry on heavier items than women.


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And Finnair is trying to account for every variable. They’re looking to weigh passengers during the winter months, when passengers tend to travel with heavier clothing, and then will resume weighing passengers in the spring, when clothing is lighter. They also hope to weigh different types of travellers, from long haul to daily corporate travellers, which they feel will impact the results.2



Can the results really be unbiased?

Presently, 180 passengers have volunteered to step on the scale along with their luggage. Finnair hopes to gather 2,000 passengers’ weights to reach an accurate estimate.1 But should the data be based on those happy to step on the scale and whether this could bias the results.1

Tallqvist however, doesn’t think this will happen; “We found yesterday and today we had people of all shapes and sizes. We had Finnish and Asian customers, we had a variety of male and female and of different sizes.”2

This isn’t the first time that weighing airline passengers has occurred. In 2013, Samoa Air came under scrutiny when they began charging travellers based on their weight. Hawaiian Airlines implemented a policy in 2016 which weighed passengers on flights between Honolulu and America Samoa. As well, Uzbekistan Airways announced in 2015 that they would begin weighing passengers for safety purposes. However, the program was abandoned before it even started.1


Would you travel with an airline who was weighing passengers? We want to know!




  1. Gears of Biz: This airline is weighing passengers by Helen Clark
  2. BBC: Why Finnair wants to put passengers on the weighing scales by Lucy Hooker
  3. Interesting Engineer: Finnair is now weighing passengers before they board by Danielle De La Bastide






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