New Zealand’s national airline is asking passengers to step onto the scales before they board international flights.
Air New Zealand said it wants to weigh 10,000 passengers during a month-long survey to provide pilots with accurate data on the weight and balance of their planes before take-off.
But the numbers on the scales will not be flashing up for all to see.
The airline has promised there will be no visible display anywhere, and the weigh-in data will remain anonymous even to 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.
“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 much 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 aged 13 and over is 190lbs (13.57 stone), which includes carry-on luggage. The authority last changed the average passenger weight in 2004, increasing it from 170lbs (12.14 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 passengers have nothing to fear from stepping onto 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 until July 2.