Sep 01, 2023

Why this Korean airline will weigh passengers before boarding

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Flyers travelling by Korean Air, South Korea's largest airline, have been asked to step on weighing scales before boarding their flights. The decision is not an arbitrary one, nor is it intended to body shame or discriminate against passengers of different sizes.

Also, the practice of weighing passengers before boarding will last for just around a week.

But why is the airline doing this in the first place? The idea is to measure the average weight of passengers (and their carry-on luggage) and study its impact on flight safety and performance.

Korean Air is one of the few carriers in the world that is required by its country's regulator to periodically obtain data on the weight distribution of its flights.

This data is then used to study how a plane's overall weight affects its fuel consumption and the distances it can fly. The data also helps aviation organisations identify more efficient strategies for distributing weight onboard a plane.

Korean Air said the passengers and luggage will be weighed anonymously and the data will then be shared with the country’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, according to CNN. However, passengers who prefer not to have their weight data collected can opt-out of the practice.

The initiative is scheduled to take place from August 28 until September 3 at South Korea's Gimpo International Airport and then at Incheon International Airport between September 8 and September 19.

Korean Air's initiative followed in the footsteps of another major carrier, Air New Zealand, which carried out a similar programme in June. Some of its passengers flying on its long international routes, including Auckland to New York's John F Kennedy International Airport, got their weight and luggage checked before boarding.

“We know stepping on the scales can be daunting. We want to reassure our customers there is no visible display anywhere. No one can see your weight, not even us,” a representative from Air New Zealand, the country’s national carrier, was quoted by CNN as saying.