Finnair has been asking passengers to step on scales at Helsinki Airport so that it can better estimate its aircraft weight loadings and how they vary by season.
The BBC reports that the airline is looking for 2000 volunteers prepared to be weighed with their carry-on luggage. It has so far found about 180, and will continue the exercise through the northern hemisphere winter and spring.
Finnair has been using European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) passenger standard weights of 84.5 kg for men, 66.5 kg for women and 30.7 kg for children under 12 years of age.
But the EASA figures, now several years old, average a range of variables, such as that men travelling in first class tend to weight more than those in economy, while the reverse is true for women. While the average hand luggage weighs 6.1 kg, this falls significantly in summer.
Finnair suspects that the combination of tall Finnish men in winter coats, long-haul travellers from East Asia and passengers on daily domestic business will produce different outcomes.
The BBC reports Finnair’s communications director, Päivyt Tallqvist, as saying, ‘airlines know what the aircraft weighs, what the check-in luggage weighs, but not what passengers weigh’.
Ms Tallqvist said the airline was not concerned that the voluntary nature of the weigh-in would skew the results. Commenting on the first days of the trial, she said, ‘We had people of all shapes and sizes. We had Finnish and Asian customers, we had a variety of male and female and of different sizes.’
However, Finnair does not intend to introduce weight-based fares.
Samoa has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, and in 2013, the now-defunct Samoa Air became the first airline to charge passengers by weight. Uzbekistan Airways also attracted controversy in 2015 when it began weighing passengers on safety grounds.
Last year, Hawaiian Airlines won the right to weigh passengers on its route between Honolulu and American Samoa to help with weight distribution, following a voluntary six-month passenger weight survey.