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Finnish airline will begin weighing passengers to ensure ‘safe operation of flights’

By Jake Beardslee · February 7, 2024

In brief…

  • Finnair will voluntarily weigh passengers and carry-ons to improve flight safety calculations
  • Weighing is anonymous and voluntary, no personal data collected
  • Concerns that heavier passengers impact aircraft performance and safety
Finnair announced a new program to voluntarily weigh passengers to help calculate aircraft weight limits for safety.  Alan Wilson from Stilton, Peterborough, Cambs, UK/Wikimedia

Finland’s national airline Finnair has announced it will begin voluntarily weighing passengers and their carry-on bags before flights. The move is aimed at improving weight and balance calculations for flight safety.

Between now and May, Finnair will ask passengers at the departure gate if they are willing to be weighed along with their carry-on luggage. The airline says this data will allow it to better optimize aircraft weight limits and performance factors like takeoff runway length and landing distance.

Satu Munnukka, head of ground processes at Finnair said in a statement: “We use the weighing data for the average calculations required for the safe operation of flights, and the collected data is not linked in any way to the customer’s personal data.”

The airline stresses that weighing passengers is completely voluntary and anonymous. No personal information will be collected. Finnair says it will use the aggregate weight data to calculate averages for safe flight operations, not link it to individual customer data.

Finnair is the latest airline to weigh passengers out of concern that changing eating habits and rising obesity levels are leading to heavier travelers that could impact flight safety. Heavier planes may require longer runways, have reduced climbing ability, and other performance issues.

The airline industry has faced criticism for policies like charging obese passengers for two seats if they cannot fit in one. Advocates argue airlines have shrunk seat sizes to dangerously cram more passengers onto flights. Most European airlines use standard weight estimates from the EU Aviation Safety Agency, which are becoming outdated.

Finnair’s voluntary weighing program will run through May to gather sufficient data.