More Airlines Forcing Passengers to Weigh In Before They Fly

As a child I remember going to an unmemorable chain restaurant that had a promotion where kids were charged their weight for meals.

Other than that the only times I’ve been weighed outside my own scale at home have been at the doctor’s office. And once at the airport. (For what it’s worth, I’ve dropped a few pounds and have a treadmill next to my desk at home that I’ve been using. Just need to be better about exercise on the road.)

I’m used to some airlines weighing carry on bags at check-in. I made the mistake of not checking in online for an Air France flight and going to get my business class boarding pass at the counter — and being made to check my carry on as a result. And Virgin Australia weighed my carry on at LAX earlier in the year.

I’ve even had to get on the scale myself. When I first flew Maldivian from Male on my first visit to the Maldives in 2012 I had to get on the scale at check-in. So did my wife, and – it appeared – every other foreigner. Maldivians did not seem to be asked to weigh in.

On subsequent trips each year since the practice appeared to be abandoned. I was never asked to weigh in again, although Maldivian’s website says that the policy is still in place.

Q – Why do I get weighed at Check-in?

Ans – All passengers are weighed at check-in for safety requirements of our Dash-8 200 aircrafts.

Maldivian isn’t the only one. Samoa Air actually charges you based on your weight and while weight is a big issue especially for small prop planes and those with a big cargo operation it still strikes me that demand-based pricing makes more sense, especially when planes aren’t full where there’s a direct tradeoff between passenger weight and cargo.

Now Uzbekistan Airways is requiring passengers weigh in prior to boarding.

Uzbekistan Airways has announced that all passengers will have to stand on weighing machines with their personal luggage after they have checked in.

…Special weighing machines have been set up in the departure gate zones to weigh people and their hand luggage.

They claim to do this for safety but it’s hardly a measure that perfectly safe operators the world over (including operators of turboprop aircraft) do not feel the need to take. (And Uzbekistan flies Boeing, Ilyushin, and Airbus jets.)

Surely they’ll find that with large numbers of passengers across a broad swath of flights they’ll be able to use passenger averages rather than slowing down the boarding process.

Perhaps the Uzbekistan Airways Uz Air Plus program stands for Plus sizes?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I think it’s not unfair to charge a passenger partially based on their weight. Why should my 40 lb son pay as much as a 400 lb passenger? A flat charge for the seat up to 200 lb or so, then add $ whatever per lb. Overweight luggage carries extra charges, so should overweight passengers. Why should overweight passengers be subsidized by the others?

  2. They can charge me for two seats on an International flight. This way I get the middle seat clear and at 1/4 the price of a business class seat.

  3. when my dad started with pan am he was a weight balance guy and everyone had to jump on the scale in HND airport except crew cause their weight was already on the manifest. short time later they stopped that but my dad had to eye ball the pax and write down best guess on their weight!

  4. This would never happen in the US. The women in this country would create such an uproar,, call it fat-shaming, etc.

  5. They used to ask the passengers their weights before getting a Prinair boarding pass to be able to distribute the weight correctly on the aircraft. That made sense to me, even though it was clear a lot of people underestimated their weight. Right now, I feel as if I’m being penalized because I have to pay for every pound over 50 on a check-on (not that I exceed that weight) even though I weigh only 102; so, I’m subsidizing the large people but can’t put a few more pounds into my luggage without paying.

  6. Based on the “amenities” I could weigh more when I got off than when I got on. Do they also weigh you when you get off?!

  7. Not a new thing. Way back (1920’s 1930’s) at the beginning of commercial flights Pax wearing their overcoats were weighed as was the baggage. This allowed for the even distribution of weight throughout the aircraft.

  8. There is some merit to this. Air Canada (and others) operate their prop planes based on average weights, I can’t remember from working there what the numbers are but it does matter. A flight of 20 men is presumed to weigh much more than a flight of 20 women. So some bags will be bumped for caution. Alternatively in a mix they may ask men to sit forward or aft in the cabin.

    For Samoa, I can imagine the averages don’t apply very much. No offense to anyone but it’s well known Samoans often carry a much higher average, plus travelling between islands etc often comes with lots of cargo/supplies. They could probably average out, but that might be the difference between bumping a critical shipment. Better to just get the right weights done and be able to transport everything/everyone.

  9. Other Island hopping airlines in Hawaii also weigh you before boarding to accurately balance the flight. Nice to know the flight might be a bit safer.

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