Could Airlines Start Secretly Weighing Passengers Before Flights?
Photo Credit: Santiago Urquijo | Getty Images

Photo Credit: Santiago Urquijo | Getty Images

Could Airlines Start Secretly Weighing Passengers Before Flights?

Leah Freeman-Haskin
Leah Freeman-Haskin Apr 17, 2019

It may not be widely known that accurately calculating the weight of an aircraft is crucial to flight safety. Everything on board, including passengers, affects how much fuel is needed for the aircraft to safely get you to your destination. According to, airlines currently use an estimate for passenger weight based on gender: 205 lbs for men and 165 lbs for women. This calculation, along with other factors including baggage weight, informs the airlines of how much fuel the aircraft needs. 

A British start-up, Fuel Matrix, proposes to secretly weigh passengers before boarding a flight in order to get a more accurate reading. Methods like pressurized pads at self-service bag drops or during full body scans would collect data on passengers’ weight and confidentially send the information to the airlines.

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Not only do miscalculated fuel amounts cause a safety threat, planes carrying more fuel than is needed make planes heavier, less efficient, and less “green.”

“It’s critical to know the actual weight an airline is carrying to ensure the correct fuel uplift,” Fuel Matrix founder and CEO Roy Fuscone told Lonely Planet.

Perhaps even more controversial is Fuel Matrix’s recommendation to use this data to seat passengers based on weight. This would help airlines to ensure an even distribution of weight aboard aircrafts, but could also leave some passengers feeling labeled or judged.

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Fuel Matrix is not the first company to propose the weighing of passengers. Finnair, Samoa Air, and Aeroflot are airlines that have tried to weigh passengers and crew members in the past with mixed responses including claims of body-shaming and insensitivity. 

Though it hasn’t been implemented yet, Lonely Planet reports, Fuel Matrix hopes to roll out these discreet pressure pads in certain U.K. airports.

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