United Airlines Would Save $80 Million Per Year If Everyone Took Ozempic

Airline expenses break down across planes, labor, and jet fuel. The amount of fuel it takes to fly a plane varies based on how much weight the plane needs to carry. So if passengers would lose weight, airlines would save money. If everyone dropped 10 pounds on Ozempic, United Airlines would save $80 million per year.

Airlines and planemakers obsess about reducing jet-fuel consumption by constantly finding new ways to reduce aircraft weight. They may have new allies in Ozempic and other similar slimming medications.

United Airlines Holdings Inc. would save $80 million a year if the average passenger weight falls by 10 pounds, Sheila Kahyaoglu, a Jefferies Financial analyst, estimated in a report Friday.

David Slotnick reminds that United found it could save $290,000 by printing its Hemispheres magazine using lighter paper, saving weight and therefore fuel.

When Emirates launched their Airbus A380 with showers in first class they offset the added weight of the water for bathing with reduced paper in seat backs of economy.

Every tweak to onboard weight matters. In fact, if everyone reduced their weight by going to the bathroom prior to boarding a flight, airlines would save $100 million per year. That might even be an argument for charging for on board lavatory use – since it would encourage people to use free bathrooms on the ground before the flight.

To be sure, I don’t think we decide what to prescribe as a best practice based on airline fuel savings. And there are still questions about the long-term benefits of what appear to be miracle weight loss drugs, simply because they’re still new. I do think this points to broader potential for ways that the drugs could be transformative.

Denmark now publishes its GDP with and without Wegovy manufacturer Novo Nordisk. Wegovy was a diabetes drug that helped obese patients lose 15% – 20% of body weight in about a year. It’s part of a GLP-1 agonist revolution that includes Ozempic and Mounjaro.

And lower body weight generally has health benefits. In a five year study Wegovy appeared to show a 20% decrease in risk for heart attacks and strokes in overweight, older patients. The drugs are expensive, but health care costs fall for people who lose weight, too (though not as much as the current cost of the medications). These drugs will become more accessible, though, as the patent on Ozempic expires in eight years.

(HT: @crucker)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Or you could just eat better and exercise a bit. Pretty simple formula on how to reduce your chances of heart disease and hypertension – the REAL pandemic in this country is obesity.

  2. They could save far more removing all food water and beverages on board
    Also get rid of life preservers and oxygen masks and save even more

  3. Lots of people are at proper weight and have no need for Ozempic. Headline should read something like “If all the tubbies slimmed down”.

  4. i see where all these kinds of narratives are going, a centralized regime of all aspects of life, diet, exercise, medical, leisure, education, travel…for survivors of this age

  5. I agree with the comments; but you fail to mention that Wegovy costs $14,000 for a year’s supply.

  6. Is anyone else livid that our insurance costs are increasing because of drugs like these? It aggravates the hell out of me who lost weight the correct way, eats healthy, exercises etc and the vast majority of the population get to take advantage of me and others like me who pay into insurance to fund their indulgent lifestyles. It’s not my problem 70% of America has zero self control.

  7. I wonder how much weight airlines would lose by no longer having perks of free flights for airline employees. In the past, those were perks that offset relatively low wages and an inconvenient lifestyle of sleeping in a different city each night but wages are much better today.

  8. So you’re saying that if each pax lost 10 lbs, it’d be 80M in savings… in the same article, you say that if each pax used the bathroom before the flight, 100M could be saved. (Before any of you brainiacs chime in- a lav service costs the same if one person takes a leak, or 100 people empty their bowels).

    Are you saying that the average pax voids more than 10lbs in the lav? Or is it more likely that the articles you referenced are sloppily done?

  9. Think of all the money the airlines would save if they flew every flight without ANY passengers!

  10. @APTMX I initially thought the same thing but I carefully reread the post. The 10 pounds is about United Airlines Holdings Inc. only. The going to the bathroom is about all airline passengers around the world (in 2019) as best I can tell.

  11. I am sick of the normal subsidizing the obese.

    Airlines should charge an overweight passenger fee.

Comments are closed.