Air New Zealand to weigh passengers before boarding international flights

Air New Zealand said no one would see their weight and the data would be anonymous. Credit: AP

Air New Zealand is asking passengers to step on scales before their flight in a test to see if knowing more about the weight and balance of their planes before takeoff can assist pilots.

New Zealand's national carrier says it wants to weigh 10,000 passengers during the month-long survey.

The numbers on the scale will not be visible to the person being weighed or any other passengers waiting to board.

The data will also remain anonymous for airline staff.

Alastair James, a load control improvement specialist for the airline, said: "We weigh everything that goes on the aircraft — from the cargo to the meals onboard, to the luggage in the hold."

The carrier is required to estimate the weight of passengers by law. Credit: AP

"For customers, crew and cabin bags, we use average weights, which we get from doing this survey."

The numbers are required by the nation’s industry watchdog, the Civil Aviation Authority.

Under the authority’s rules, airlines have various options to estimate passenger weight. One option is to periodically carry out surveys like Air New Zealand is doing to establish an average weight. Another option is to accept a standard weight set by the authority.

Currently, the authority’s designated weight for people 13 and over is 86 kilograms (13.5 stone), which includes carry-on luggage.

The authority last changed the average passenger weight in 2004, increasing it from 77kg (12.1 stone).

Health statistics show New Zealanders are becoming heavier. The latest national health survey put the adult obesity rate at 34%, up from 31% a year earlier.

Childhood obesity rates increased to 13%, up from 10% a year earlier.

Customers on Air New Zealand domestic flights were asked to weigh in a couple of years ago.

Mr James said there was nothing for passengers to fear by stepping on the scales.

"It’s simple, it’s voluntary, and by weighing in, you’ll be helping us to fly you safely and efficiently, every time," he said.

The airline said the survey began this week and will run through July 2.

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