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Finnair To Weigh Passengers

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An airline passenger steps on the scales at check-in
An airline passenger steps on the scales at check-in. Image: Twitter

Finnair Is To Trial Passenger Weigh-Ins for Enhanced Flight Safety at Helsinki Airport

Consider the typical air travel scenario: Your luggage undergoes meticulous weighing, cargo is precisely measured, and aircraft balance is meticulously optimized to enhance fuel efficiency.

Yet, there’s a significant gap: Passengers themselves are not individually weighed. Instead, airlines rely on outdated measurements to establish an average weight per passenger. Back in 2019, the US Federal Aviation Administration mandated US carriers to refresh their “standard average passenger weights” and proposed conducting passenger surveys, effectively implying passenger weighing.

In fact, in May 2023, Air New Zealand also trialled the scheme and updated its average weight measurements by asking passengers to step on the scales. According to the airline this was not a secret plot to charge passengers of size more, but a valid initiative meant to keep everyone onboard safe.

February 2024: Finnair is introducing a unique opportunity for volunteering customers at Helsinki Airport departure gates. The airline will be conducting voluntary weigh-ins for passengers and their carry-on baggage as part of its efforts to optimize aircraft balance calculations.

The process is completely voluntary and anonymous (at the moment), with data collection aimed solely at enhancing Finnair’s flight safety measures. Each aircraft has a maximum weight limit crucial for safe take-off, encompassing the aircraft itself, fuel, checked baggage, cargo, catering, water tanks, and passengers.

While other factors’ weights are accurately known, passenger and carry-on baggage weights typically rely on average figures provided by aviation authorities. Finnair has historically utilized its own measurements since 2018, updated every five years as per regulations. With the last update in 2017 and 2018, Finnair is now gathering fresh data to maintain safety standards.

Satu Munnukka, Finnair’s Head of Ground Processes, emphasizes that collected data remains disconnected from personal identifiers, ensuring passenger privacy. “We record total weights and background information without linking to personal data like names or booking numbers,” she assures, adding that only designated staff will access the data for calculation purposes.

The updated average weights, derived from these measurements, will be submitted to Traficom – The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency – for verification between July and September 2024. Once confirmed, Finnair will incorporate these figures into aircraft balance and loading calculations from 2025 to 2030.

The weigh-in stations will rotate among select departure gates at Helsinki Airport, covering European flights within the Schengen area and certain long-haul flights from the non-Schengen section. So, expats in Spain traveling through Helsinki, seize the chance to contribute to flight safety with Finnair’s voluntary passenger weigh-in program!

“We weigh volunteer customers together with their carry-on baggage. In the measurement, we do not ask for personal data, but the total weight of the customer and carry-on baggage, the customer’s age, gender and travel class are recorded in the database. No information is collected that would allow participants to be identified,” said Munnukka. 

“In the previous measurements five years ago, a good number of volunteers wanted to participate in the weighing, and we hope to have a good sample of volunteers, both business and leisure travellers, also this time, so that we can get the most accurate information possible for important balance calculations,” added Munnukka.

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