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Airlines May Begin Weighing Passengers Before Flights

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A Federal Aviation Administration report suggests that air travelers might have to either get themselves weighed at the gate or share their body weight before getting on a flight.

According to an advisory circular the agency distributed in May 2019, airlines in the United States should calculate the weight and balance of an aircraft and ensure that both are within limits recommended for the plane before flying.

Part of making the right calculation, according to the document, is ensuring that the weights of passengers stepping into the airplane are accurately calculated.

Past assumptions airlines used are out of date, the circular suggests, because, in light of the FAA‘s new realizations, passenger weight may vary according to route, and airlines should account for this difference.

Travel blog View from the Wing suggests the changes come because “Americans are getting fatter, and the federal government wants airlines to find out how much fatter their passengers have gotten, at least for smaller aircraft.”

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The document suggests that standard weights might not be the right ones for smaller aircraft, which have a lower sample size and a greater likelihood of numbers differing from the average.

Industry outlet AirInsight Group said the circular points to pending rules that would require airlines to conduct surveys to determine “standard average passenger weights.”

“The new FAA rules are going to make American air travelers very unhappy. VERY UNHAPPY,” Addison Schonland wrote in a May 11 post on the site.

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The average will be calculated through random sampling and asking passengers to participate in the survey, which might include stepping on a scale, the post said.

However, passengers will be given the right to decline to participate in such surveys, according to Schonland.

“If a passenger declines to participate, the operator should select the next passenger based on the operator’s random selection method rather than select the next passenger in a line,” he wrote. “If a passenger declines to participate, an operator should not attempt to estimate data for inclusion in the survey.”

The average weight of an adult traveler with carry-on baggage will be set at 190 pounds in the summer and 195 in the winter, according to the FAA guidance. This is a 12 percent increase from the previous 170 and 175 pounds, AirInsight Group said.

The numbers would increase from 145 to 179 pounds in the summer and from 150 to 184 in the winter for female travelers. For males, the figure would jump from 185 pounds in the summer to 200 pounds and from 190 to 205  in the winter.

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Air carriers should conduct the average-weight-measuring surveys every 36 months, the FAA suggested in the circular.

Also, airline operators should respect travelers’ privacy. “The scale readout should remain hidden from public view,” it said.

“The impact on the US airline industry is going to be significant and unpleasant,” Schonland wrote.

“After having been irritated by airport parking, the check-in line (and bag fees), then the TSA security line, passengers are set to, potentially, face another humiliation at the gate. If we have seen a spike in passengers misbehaving in-flight already, this new world is going to be real fun. Will cabin crew need body armor?”

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Andrew Jose is a freelance reporter covering security, U.S. politics, and foreign policy, among other beats. He has bylines in several outlets, notably the Daily Caller, Jewish News Syndicate, and the Times of Israel.
Andrew Jose is a freelance reporter covering security, U.S. politics, and foreign policy, among other beats. He has bylines in several outlets, notably the Daily Caller, Jewish News Syndicate, and the Times of Israel. Speak to Andrew securely via Follow Andrew on Twitter: @realAndrewJose
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