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U.S. Airlines May Start Weighing Passengers At The Gate

U.S. airlines may need to start weighing passengers in order to comply with FAA rules. For safety reasons, carriers need to calculate an aircraft’s weight and balance, and it has to be within allowable limits for the plane. However the assumptions they’ve been using for passengers are outdated. 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. ( More...

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If getting people to wear a mask was controversial this certainly will be. I think they will up the standard weight allowance to 220 lbs (100kg)
Paul Miller 13
It happens in the Philippines though ? which really caught me by surprise the first time that the Check In Desk young lady said "Please Step Forwards onto the scale to register your weight Sir".
Same in Tanzania for the hop from Arusha to Zanzibar on a Cessna Caravan.
Caravans have always done this if carrying passengers - The light guy, (like me) in the back
I have to admit it was my only ride in a Caravan so far.
Denis Caraus 1
the same, but cause we fly to local island on small airplane, so why its ok for them )
mariofer 9
This is going to lead to some interesting videos on social media......
ADXbear 9
Ok, ill chime in on this from a Aicraft dispatchers point of view..
I was required to flight plan passengers at the FAA average weights for passengers during warm months and cold. This average was 170 lbs. Now we All know that's no longer accurate these days, it was back in the 50s/60s when these regs were drawn up..

I firmly believe many airliners are actually over weight because of this average, I brought this up alot when I worked for a well known regional.. of course w&b is very critical on a smaller aircraft than say a 757.

As to weighing passengers in, it can easily be done at the ticket counter or gate, though that would be pretty late before flight time.

Let's adjust the flight planning average up to reflect real Americans sizes and baggage..
J B 3
Good points. Hard to believe there isn't already enough national data to aggregate for new standard capacity limits without individual weigh-ins. Carriers will not like reducing limits / seating or luggage but safety first.
John moffitt 7
I got wighed in at Dnieperpetrovsk, Ukraine 20 years ago. Fuel was precious there at that time.
This is a daily event in Costa Rica on Sansa. A few years ago, We all weighed in and the takeoff weight exceeded maximums. So? We flew back to SJO sans luggage.
My luggage showed up in DTW 5 days later.
Phil Howry 3
The operational weight and balance of an aircraft is a rudimentary flight safety factor; passengers, luggage, cargo and fuel loading are all controllable elements. Obviously, once the aircraft is airborne the fuel load decreases, but other controllable loading factors remains static.

I find it entirely fair and reasonable for airlines to collect the total operational weight/balance factor of an aircraft. If a passenger(s) physically "sizes out" of the standard aircraft seating infrastructure, (i.e., overhead luggage storage sizing), require them to purchase two (2) seats out of respect for other passengers; but the "passenger of size" must still fit in the aisle space to access the seating and/or inflight facilities.

This proposed "U.S. Airlines" procedure should not be taken as a personal attack on anyone, it's merely an aircraft flight operations safety and passenger comfort/emergency management issue.
ImperialEagle 8
Oh, back in the 1950's they weighed us all the time. Baggage scales at the ticket counters and pax scales used to be right at the door of the gates at ATL. Nobody cared.

How about the airlines do it anyway to keep pax from having to deal with morbidly obese people overflowing their seating space and creating discomfort for the innocent pax next to them who expect to have their own space. And the FAA doesn't seem to concerned with fat people blocking emergency exits because they can't fit through them, or cannot contort themselves to get through them. Or block the aisles along with other panicked pax in an accident, etc. Or the fact that the seat attachments themselves may not be able to sustain severe deceleration forces in an accident and the whole row of seats goes flying with everyone in them.

No, the airlines, the airframe manufacturers and the FAA are all completely aware of the obesity problems and everybody wants to look the other way.
Meanwhile, there is still an elephant in the room (or airplane) and real solutions need to be found including legislation which the airline lobbyists have managed to keep at bay for all these years and the corrupt politicians are only too happy to fall in line. Remember, the FAA is a Government agency.
No they won't...they'll increase the weight to something that makes more sense. No one has time to weight everyone at a gate.
GraemeSmith 3
Passenger Ship Stability is as important a safety factor as W&B on an aircraft. In the highly competitive cross English Channel Ferries where designs look (and are) top heavy - they weigh EVERY passenger. And most don't even realise it. As they (with bags) step through the gate - they walk across a mat and are weighed by the scales underneath. The problem to be solved is a little simpler. You need a weight of the whole passenger load at a height above sea level and can make some assumptions that they will evenly distribute themselves and add a fudge for everyone moving to one side to look at the sunset (or whatever). Aircraft loading is a little more nuanced to keep it in CG. But the problem has already been solved in another industry.
Just hop on the scale after your luggage. Problem solved. Really, you have never checked a bag?

What I'd laugh at is if they have to stick a 'HEAVY' warning sticker on the chunks that fly. (My mom was one of them. She felt bad about it, and tried everything to end it, but it's a slippery slope that is really hard to climb back from once you are on it.

I flippantly refer to 'fat people', but I was once one myself. I once weighed over 265 pounds. I was able to pull myself out of the abyss and am now a 'healthy weight'. It was hard work, and it took a few years, but it was SO WORTH IT.
Same with me. Cut back the beer, cut back on eating out, cut out milk and soda and the weight came off no problem!
This will also require weighing every piece of luggage.
We used to do this on the Grumman Mallard seaplane. Passengers had to state their weight, and if there was any doubt, they’d be asked to step on the cargo scale that had a huge cartoon-style pounds gauge. Particularly heavy passengers were often strategically seated in the middle of the cabin.
jeff slack 2
About time!

The size of people now!
$19- tickets and $50- luggage fees!

Time to finally even the playing field.
undyingshadow 3
Lot of people here really hate fat people. Y’all aren’t very nice.
dee9bee 3
Surely, in the alphabet soup that is our federal government, there is someone that knows how much the average american human has 'grown' over the years without requiring each passenger to be weighed, at least for a 200 passenger aircraft, for example. The airlines could tweak their figures accordingly.

That being said, I flew for a commuter airline in the early 80s, twin Cessnas. Each passenger had to check in at the counter. Unknown (I think) to the pax, they were standing on a scale and his or her weight was only visible to the Agent. My load sheet showed the weights and I could keep the heavyweights out of the rear seats.
Mark Kortum 2
That explains why Mokulele always puts me in the rear seat on the hop over to Molokai!
Chris B 1
Federal weights are wrong. Even in cars where the official number is 150lbs
jptq63 1
A comment below from Silent Bob (and a few others) helps make me think this a bit differently; to me it seems there is a significant difference of concerns with passenger weight (i.e. W & B) depending upon the size of aircraft. A 10 or 20 lb. (5% - 10%) adder per person on a 19 or 50 seat aircraft (190 – 1,000 lbs) likely is more significant as a percentage of overall weight vs. a 150 – 200 seat aircraft (1,500 – 4,000 lbs) or larger aircraft. Also, a larger aircraft permits the people inside to mover about (front to back) more; i.e. ARM changes on a larger aircraft of 1 row of seats less significant vs. smaller aircraft for CG.

A comment here before I forget, I am thinking the airlines may be more concern about this from lost revenue (i.e. money) from reducing cargo / freight vs. paying passengers....

Using what public (Wikipedia) info I can find for a few representative aircraft here are how I figure (use your own numbers if you know better info) some numbers; also adjust the representative plane as you see fit:

Caravan: Capacity of nine passengers or 13 with FAR Part 23 waiver and Gross weight of 8,000 and Fuel capacity of 2,224 lb

ATR 42 (600): Seats 48 and Max TOW 41,005 lb and Fuel Capacity of 9,921 lb.

E175: seats 88 @ 29" and Max TOW 89,000 lbs. and Max Fuel of 20,580 lb

737 MAX (900): seats 193 (more typical number used here) and Max TOW 177,000–194,700 lb and Max Fuel of 6,853 US gal (6.8 lbs / gal  46,600 lbs )

A330 (300): Seats 300 (more typical number used here, though 440 listed as max) and Max TOW of 533,519 lb and Fuel capacity of 240,712 lb

Using a 10 lb. and 20 lb. adder per person at the listed capacity and comparing the percentage of this difference to the Max TOW weight for the aircraft yield the following percentages for WEIGHT only:

Caravan: 130 lbs. / 8,000 lbs = 1.63% and 260 lbs. / 8,000 lbs = 3.25%

ATR (600): 480 lbs. / 41,005. = 1.17% and 960 lbs. / 41,005 lbs. = 2.34%

E175: 880 lbs. / 89,000 lbs. = 0.99% and 1,760 lbs. / 89,000 = 1.98%

737 MAX (900): 1,930 lbs. / 177,000 = 1.09% and 3,860 / 177,000 = 2.18% (Note: lowest of MTOW range) or 1,930 / 194,700 lbs. = 0.99% and 3,860 / 194,700 lbs. = 1.98% (Note: highest of MTOW range)

A330 (300): 3000 lbs. / 533,519 lbs. = 0.56% and 6,000 lbs. / 533,519 lbs. = 1.12%

As demonstrated by this trend, any change increasing the AVERAGE weight of the passenger clearly impacts smaller aircraft (in general) significantly more. As I do not have info on the ARM used for any of the aircraft, but previously comment (correct me if I am wrong or if you have info provide it please…) about moving passengers just 1 row, the ARM will be far more impacted again on a smaller aircraft vs. a larger aircraft on where passengers sit. This also holds for the cargo (luggage and paying freight – money making for carriers); Silent Bob comment thinking….

What bugs me though, is the numbers I present here only has 3.25% as about the worse case scenario for adding 20 lbs. Now I know the change on the Caravan gets multiplied by the ARM will impact the CG far more vs. the other aircraft, by how much more I do not know. But just 3.25% makes me wonder about how accurate the rest of the weights (i.e. luggage, freight, food and drinks on board….) are estimated.

Would really like if someone has some ARM numbers and can provide some estimated / typical CG calculations with any change in passenger weights.
thegrump 1
Couple years ago I was on some smallish CRJ variant for a flight to a city in the oil patch (west texas and into NM).

Usually passengers on any flight I get on look like a semi-random sampling of humanity; some young, some old, men, women, some big people and some very petite people.

I think there might have been one woman on the flight. The rest was all male, most of them in their late 20's to 50's, and all looking pretty much like what a stock photo search of "oil rig worker" would return: Large and muscular.

I gave W&B a bit of thought as everyone settled into the more-cramped-than-usual commuter jet, but I know that these are workers who make this flight either weekly, or every other week. I'm not a fan of commuter jets (esp when both people in the front office look like they'd get their ID checked at an R-rated movie), but I have to assume that with this being pretty much the default load for this route, the airline would have noticed if expensive puddle-jumpers were either unable to take off, or went into an uncontrollable nose-up.

When you have to trust in either competence or desire for management to keep their bonuses at 100%, count on management.
Carol Averill 1
Not just the passengers but also their oversized suitcases that they carry on. Most are larger that the cases that I pay to check.
Tim Dyck 1
I don’t know why those are allowed. My carry on is able to fit in their little test things at the gate so why can’t everyone else’s.
Tom Sentowski 1
I think if the carry on has wheels, it must be too heavy to carry on. Check it.
thegrump 1
With the newly designed bins on many planes being designed specifically to accomodate more wheelie bags, I think not only does the general public disagree with this, but the airlines seem to be totally on board with the idea of it.

You can always tell the frequent flyers, even if they have a to-the-limit bag, when it's time to get off the plane, they are like a ferrari pit crew member; stand up, grab the bag in one motion, slide it out, not clonk anyone on the head with it, and head for the door at full speed.

Infrequent flyers with just a simple sweater or a small carry-on are the ones that either slow things down, or give some poor seat-mate a concussion.
Leroy Kelley 1
Big fail. Especially with the visuals we saw with the no-masker crowd in the US. I do remember flying United Express and being moved around on those Jetstream planes like the counterweight on a scale to help balance the load. Those were the days, watching the folks load the plane and realize how comfy it was going to be :)
thegrump 1
Oh I do remember flying on some beech 1900's back in the day and, happily, the crew would kind of do a visual check, and might - after explaining the reason - ask "could I get three people to move (up/down a couple rows)" or something similar.

(and it was back in the day, most of the time they didn't even bother closing the little flimsy sliding door to the cockpit. I am just a private pilot, but I do so much enjoy watching professionals at work.
Checkout "Customer of Size"
Unfortunately, all of the women lied about their weight! Have to have actual scale.
avionik99 1
As if boarding time isn't a pain already. This will add to delays in boarding. How is southwest going to accomplish this when the weight is not assigned to a specific seat?
Silent Bob 2
Large (airline) aircraft don't use individual per seat weights, and don't really need to. SWA uses zones; on occasion, usually with very light pax loads (covid anyone?) they will have to move people from one zone to another to make it work on paper. Because airliners have a large CG range and pax have a smaller impact on CG than small aircraft, they're probably not worried so much about being outside of CG limits as they are about being significantly heavier than calculated.

My guess is they'll most likely just increase the average weight for large aircraft, while perhaps mandating actual weights for smaller ones. If they do mandate actual weights for large aircraft, it will no doubt be accomplished before the boarding process begins. Since virtually everyone nowadays uses mobile boarding passes it could simply be incorporated into the app. Once on board it won't really matter where you sit, as the seating density and relatively small variances in weight across 100+ people won't have a large impact on CG.
This past March on a SW flight from ATL to RIC, after we boarded the piolet announced they needed to move weight from the back to the front. Departure was delayed while three carts of baggage was moved from the back to the front. I saw our checked bag get loaded during that process.
Greg Fisher 1
Wait until the fat shaming and sexism lawsuits arrive.
Gary Eldridge 1
I was often told where to sit when flying some of the commuter aircraft in order to be compliant with W/B. I used to work with and travel worldwide with a man that was enormously huge and heavy. He would convince the ticket agent to declare the seat next to him as broken so it would not be sold to anyone. Then once the flight crew were done with the seat belt demonstration he would ask for the demonstrator belt so he could use it as an extension in order to get the seat belt to wrap around his very large belly. It's people like this they need to send directly to a wing seat or close to wherever the CG is located.
Rico van Dijk 0
Why not weigh the entire aircraft? It’s easy to install such a device as they use to weigh garbage trucks at every landfill station. Not for every flight, but for a period to establish the actual error margin. At least it’s kinder to the obese passengers ;)
ToddBaldwin3 6
"BUT A LOT OF THAT IS NOT PEOPLE BEING "FAT",IT PEOPLE WITH MUSCKLE MASSE" I have to disagree with that statement, at least here in the US, it is that people are getting fat. In the US about 70% of the overall adult population is considered overweight or obese (NIH).
Ah, they finally figured it out. This is the first step in airfares based on poundage.

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godutch 7
you are voted down daily because you are an asshole. Period.
mariofer 4
I believe there are a couple of folks here going after some type of record
There's always an idiot who need to identify himself!
jptq63 -3
HIPPA Law? Boy (or girl...) weighing everyone will surely be a pain individually; i.e. perhaps some type of pressure plates used to take the total weight of people as they walk over it to board the plane or just make plane park on pressure plates and get weight after door is closed and calculate W&B on the spot. Figure a computer would take 30 - 60 seconds to calculate and let crew aware of status - just cost to airports.

Maybe funny if they ask if someone weighting XXX lbs. or Kg willing to be bumped or else plan may not leave the gate. Taking an average based upon chromosomes is just another....
ToddBaldwin3 12
HIPPA does not apply in this case. HIPPA applies to health care providers and associated functions (billing, insurance, etc.). There is no law that prevents an airline from weighing you and using that information.
EMK69 4
HIPAA only applies to Medical types, not the average citizen or business.
Robert Cowling 10
HIPAA would not cover this, sorry. I was weighed before a flight across Puerto Rico. It was a regularly scheduled ride on a King Air, and they weighed everything going into the plane.

Weights and balance is a larger issue on such a small plane though, but knowing that a larger commercial plane could be dramatically overweight is disturbing. I believe there was one plane that crashed because they underestimated the weight of the passengers and luggage.

I saw a woman yesterday that was easily well over 300 pounds. I'm constantly amazed to see old movies and weeklies where the actors are so skinny. That was before pushing sugar on Americans became a HUGE money making opportunity for the sugar companies, and numerous 'medical' companies lining up with 'fixes' for the whole mess... Fat people, and their maladies are a profit center in America. Sad...
ToddBaldwin3 4
Robert, Arrow Air 1285, carrying US Troops is a good example of this. Not only were the typical soldiers heavier than the average civilian pax, but they carry heavier luggage.
jeff slack 7
You are so right.
It is the corn sugar that is in everything.

Travel anywhere in the world (except maybe the Pacific islands)and get acquainted to how overweight the USA is.
It is! I was amazed that Scotland (Ireland?) doesn't consider Subway 'bread' is actual bread!

It's not bread, to them, because their bread dosn't have the massive amount of sugar that American Subway 'bread' does. I bought a 'whole grain' pizza crust, andd the 'added sugar' was rather horrific. HOW MUCH?

And then I found out that corporate America seems to believe that Americans have to have a half pound of sugar added to get Americans to eat whole graind,a ndd , basically, things that are good for them. I stopped buying 'whole grain' Pizza crusts, and basically whole grain pizzas in general. And the Tostitos whole grain chips are disgusting with the amount of 'added sugars'.

Listen up people: Industry BUYS politicians so they can jam crap down your throats. Does sugar make things taste better? Yes. Our brains are HOOKED on sugars, and tax payers subsidize High Fructose Corn Syrup. We are nearly literally paying for the right to die as a diabetic. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE EATING!!! /rant
Jan Mathews 2
jeff slack -1
Recently; sitting in my Bus. Class seat on United.
Aisle passenger takes his seat next to me.

He was so huge, he oozed out of his seat onto mine and into the aisle. Then, God as my witness and some attendants, the seat back and arms both broke under the weight and pressure.
I had someone put the arm rest up, and fill the space.

But airplane seats HAVE gotten slimmer.

If the industry can squeeze two more people into the same space as one, and only piss off 35% of their customers, they will try to squeeze 2 and a half into that space!

I lamented on the 727's that flew out of my local airport. The leg space was practically GALACTIC compared to 'Comfort Plus'! I had enough to cross my legs. Now It's tight.

So, while the majority of the population are fattened (for profit), the industry is trying to squeeze us into smaller and smaller spaces, and yet the hospitals are having to buy stretchers, beds, and chairs that are big enough for two people!

(My mom weighed over 300 pounds when she died. Not knowing my history, an EMT from the town next to the one that my mom lived in called the many calls they got to help people get off the floor 'Cow Tipping'. Yes, they referred to helping fat people getting off the floor to flipping bovine mammals on their sides.

I love my mom. She knew she screwed up. She tried, but it was too late. Being obese is a right, but it's not smart. So rip me if you must.

I've been there, I've been morbidly obese, and I was able to get out of it, thankfully.

Don't hate fat people. Help them to better themselves. Help people to have more choices than fast food to eat. People eat crap food because it's all they can afford. They are HUNGRY. Eating is a necessity. Yadda yadda... Most won't give a crap, but it's MASSIVE to help people survive.
godutch -6
Robert, I see you on here DAILY bitching about EVERYTHING. Why don't you f_cking LEAVE this country and go to a country that meets your needs??? Just go!

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Tim Dyck 4
When I was 18 I was fresh out of high school and although in good shape it was nothing compared to what years of hard work would do. 180lbs at graduation and 240lbs now. Muscle has a lot of weight.


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