Why This Airline Is Weighing Passengers Before They Board The Plane

The stress of having to weigh your baggage is about to get even more personal for some passengers on Finnish flights. The European airline Finnair is going to weigh passengers before boarding as part of an upcoming study. Thankfully, the study is not focused so much on surveying passengers’ waistlines as it is on ensuring its estimates for total plane weight and fuel needed are safe and accurate.

Currently, Finnair balances its planes using estimates from a European Aviation Safety Agency survey conducted eight years ago. However, the average weight of a person in Finland has fluctuated since those estimates were made. As Distractify states, the eight-year-old estimates put the average Finnish man at 185 pounds and the average woman weighing 144 pounds. However, current estimates show the average Finnish male weighs two pounds more and the average Finnish female weighs eleven pounds more now than they did eight years ago.

Finnair has started by weighing 180 passengers on flights over a two-day period. Passengers will be weighed on a voluntary basis, which is admittedly more reassuring and probably more ethical. The airline hopes to weigh at least 2,000 passengers between now and 2018 to get accurate, update estimates of standard weight.

They’re also weighing passengers’ carry-on items for a more accurate estimate of total weight per passenger. The thought of having to weigh my carry-on luggage is personally as stressful as having to put my human self on a scale. I use my carry-on as a catchall for every heavy, unnecessary item that weighed too much for my checked bag. And now I have to be shamed by the number of pounds of shoes and hairstyling devices I travel with? Et tu, overstuffed Jansport backpack?

Fortunately, passengers won’t be penalized for based on their weights. In fact, Finnair is hoping the study’s more accurate passenger measurements could help cut operating costs through more exact fuel estimates.

Finnair communications director Päivyt Tallqvist, in an email to the Sun, assured that anonymity is a top priority in the study. “We want to ensure we have the best possible data in use in aircraft performance and loading calculations,” Tallqvist said. “The weighing is purely voluntary and anonymous, and only the customer service agent sees the weighing result.”

Only you, the customer service agents, and your overflowing carry-on whether or not you pack lightly.

The timing of the study is intentional. According to Distractify, Finnair’s manager of customer processes Sami Suokas said that passengers’ weights tend to fluctuate between summer and winter. Which, like, OK that’s fine I get it but also rude. Don’t come for my winter bod as I prepare for my holiday hibernation.

Finnair isn’t the first airline to weigh its passengers. For six months in 2016, Hawaiian Airlines weighed passengers on flights between Honolulu and American Samoa. The airline discovered it was burning more fuel on this particular route, at The Economist reports. After ruling out factors like strong winds, Hawaiian Airlines conducted a voluntary weight survey among its passengers on this route. They found that passengers and carry-on items on this flight were about 30 pounds heavier than they’d expected.

As a result, Hawaiian Airlines instituted a policy for flights between Honolulu and American Samoa. Passengers wouldn’t be able to pre-select seats. Instead, they’d weigh passengers before boarding and place them in a seat to best distribute weight evenly on the plane as a means to save fuel and ensure safety.

Because Samoans have one of the highest obesity rates in the world (and because weight is sensitive issue as a whole), some passengers found this practice discriminatory and filed complaints against the airline. However, the U.S. Department of Transportation ruled in favor of Hawaiian Airlines, allowing them to continue the practice. It does not appear that the policy included any sort of passenger weight limit or additional monetary fee based on weight.

Finnair hopes to complete their study by 2018. Then, passengers will be able to continue overstuffing their messenger bags in peace.