Finnair cops backlash after announcing it will weigh passengers

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Finland’s flagship airline has announced that it will be weighing passengers as well as their luggage.

Finnair said the move, which will be done on a voluntary basis through May, is designed to improve balance calculations that will enhance flight safety, the NY Post reports.

“Finnair will collect data by weighing volunteering customers and their carry-on baggage at the departure gate,” according to a statement from the company.

“The weighing is voluntary and anonymous, and the data will only be used to optimise Finnair’s current aircraft balance calculations.”

Finnair said that weighing passengers will help ensure that the airline doesn’t exceed the set maximum weight that a plane can bear before it takes off.

The company has pledged that it will not use customers’ personal data.

“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,” Satu Munnukka, head of Finnair’s ground processes, said in a statement.

Munnukka noted that the airline won’t ask for the name or booking number of the passengers that volunteer to be weighed.

The Post has sought comment from Finnair.

Many have been left stunned by the airline’s move, taking to X, formerly known as Twitter, to weigh in on the move.

“I will not be travelling via @Finair as I won’t be #fatshamed by a bloody airline. Am I alone? (ie I never weight myself: my choice), one person wrote.

“#Finair are to start weighing their passengers? Have I read that correctly? I am utterly shocked! And disgusted,” another added.

Meanwhile, in May last year Air New Zealand revealed it too will be weigh passengers travelling internationally.

The information will be collected to help the airline determine average passenger weights going forward when calculating the weight and balance of aircraft – which all pilots need to know before takeoff.

Alastair James, Air New Zealand load control improvement specialist, assured passengers it was voluntary and their weight would not be displayed for anyone to see at the airport.

“We weigh everything that goes on the aircraft – from the cargo to the meals on-board, to the luggage in the hold,” Mr James explained.

“For customers, crew and cabin bags, we use average weights, which we get from doing this survey.”

Observers say that changing eating patterns and diets are leading to heavier passengers, which can have a safety impact on flights.

“Three hundred people that weigh more than average can put an airplane significantly over weight, and all of our performance calculations — runway length, climb, obstacle clearance, landing distances, altitude capabilities — all are dependent on weight, among other things,” Shem Malmquist, an instructor at Florida Tech’s College of Aeronautics, told CNBC.

Most European airlines use the mean passenger weight as calculated by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which found that men have a mean weight of 82.2 kg (181.22 lbs) while women clock in at 67.5 kg (148.8 lbs).

Airlines have come under fire for their handling of plus-sized and obese passengers.

Several domestic carriers including United, Spirit, Frontier, Hawaiian and American require customers who are unable to fit in a single seat to purchase another ticket.

Advocates for obese people claim that airlines have shrunk the width of seats in order to squeeze more profit out of each flight.

Finnair joins Korean Air, Hawaiian Air, Uzbekistan Airways and Air New Zealand in the group of air carriers that have weighed customers.Last year, Korean flyers reacted angrily to a new law requiring domestic carriers to weigh passengers and their carry-on luggage at least once every five years.

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission