Weigh in policy scales new heights

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Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 flyying through a cloudy sky
© Hawaiian Airlines

Weighing passengers is commonplace in helicopter sightseeing and low capacity charter, but is it ever justified in airlines?

Hawaiian Airlines will continue its practice of weighing passengers on the Honolulu to Pago Pago flight after a challenge was dismissed.

Last year the airline conducted a six-month voluntary survey on its Hawaii to Western Samoa route after flight data analysis found aircraft on the route were burning more fuel than predicted, which could not be explained by headwinds or diversions. The survey found passengers and their carry-on bags were on average 14 kg heavier than anticipated.

As a result, passengers on flights between Hawaii and the US territory are now weighed and allocated seats. The airline says this is for safety and efficiency. Complaints to the US Department of Transport that the policy is discriminatory have been rejected.

Hawaiian Airlines flies its service to Pago Pago in American Samoa, using a Boeing 767-300, configured for 264 passengers.

The policy makes Hawaiian the third airline to weigh its passengers. Samoa Air, which operates Cessna 172s and formerly flew Britten-Norman Islanders, began weigh-ins in 2013. Samoa Air’s slogan is ‘where you pay by weight’. The other airline, Uzbekistan Airways, which operates a fleet comprising mostly western jets, began the practice in 2015.

5 COMMENTS

  1. QantasLink has been weighing passengers departing Lord Howe Island for many years – certainly long before 2013. Surely CASA (and thus Flight Safety) knew this?!

  2. Absolutely! Question, what are the rules on passenger discrimination on sex, and by default, weight? i.e. males are statistically heavier than females, Polynesians statistically heavier than Caucasians, Polynesian children statistically heavier than Caucasian children, etc.
    Weighing passengers is not discrimination, it is a fundamental requirement for aircraft weight limits that are finite by law – any Civil Aviation law, in any country. Not weighing your passengers and cargo is in effect fraudulent practice despite the convenience you afford your passengers in not being embarrassed with a weigh in. In the big scheme of things, failing to accurately weigh your payload(and aircraft TOW) invalidates the airlines insurance as they cannot confirm that the airline aircraft met the weight limitations and performance requirements of the aircraft therefore affecting the passenger and crews lives through lack of compliance with FAA rules and in disregard of the airlines moral and legal obligations to safety.

    • Well, there are weighting averages which may (/have to) be applied by any airline – and these figures are provided in the ICAO regulations, so using these figures are absolutaly legal and satisfactory if it comes to TOW or insurance. These figures are determined on a statistical basis and are differing given the number of seating on the aircraft (so less seats = higher hypotetical weight per passenger). In the CASA world, please refer to CAAP 235-1.
      So, with all due respect – you’re not correct.

      • Common sense says a weighing average may not be a safe way to determine the average passenger weights for that particular flight.
        Average implies a random population determined from the original population data. A team of Rugby players may not have read that data.

  3. Ok this was a bit hasty comment…. Can you please explain that how it is ‘lack of compliance with FAA rules ‘ if the airline is not weighting each passenger?

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