A Finnair plane.
Finnair has begun asking passengers to weigh themselves before flights voluntarily.Critics argue it could trigger people with eating disorders and potentially lead to discrimination.Finnair says that weight data helps the safe operation of flights.
An airline’s trial policy to ask passengers to weigh themselves before flights has sparked controversy, with critics saying it could be triggering and embarrassing.
Finnair, the national airline of Finland, has started asking passengers to voluntarily step on scales at departure gates with their hand luggage to improve the accuracy of cargo weight estimation for the plane.
People who agreed to be weighed were compensated with a complimentary baggage tag.
As of Wednesday, at least 600 people had volunteered to be weighed, the airline said.
Plus-size model Hayley Hasselhoff told British outlet GB News that the move is “triggering to people with eating disorders.”
“I have had friends going to airports in the last couple of hours and not knowing they are going to be weighed. That’s triggering,” she said.
Travel journalist Yvette Caster, also interviewed by GB News, called Finnair’s move to weigh passengers “fatphobic.”
Airlines can use average weights provided by aviation authorities or could collect their own data, like Finnair is doing, Kate Staniforth, from online tourism agency Travel Republic, told the MailOnline.
“Given the controversy that has risen around the topic, with people accusing the airline of ‘body shaming,’ and backlash forming on social media, other airlines might be hesitant to follow suit and choose to use averages given by the authorities,” she said.
Finnair has announced it will begin weighing passengers with their carry-on luggage to better estimate the plane’s weight before take-off.
Should passengers be made to weigh in before a flight?
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) February 8, 2024
Travel and consumer rights journalist Laura Sanders told MailOnline that the policy could lead to passengers being removed from flights to reduce weight.
Overweight people and solo travelers would be vulnerable to discrimination as they’re the easiest to remove, she said.
“It’s already too late and a huge inconvenience if you’re asked not to fly to avoid tipping the scales – not to mention embarrassing,” she said.
She suggested that airlines could instead request passengers input their weight when booking the flight.
The head of ground processes at Finnair said in a statement that the weight data helps the “safe operation of flights.”
The data is anonymous, as passengers’ names or booking numbers are not recorded along with their weight.
Air New Zealand conducted a six-week voluntary weighing survey in 2023.
Korean Air and Hawaiian Airlines have made similar requests for passengers in the past year to understand average weights for safety better. Uzbekistan Airlines began weighing passengers for the same reason in 2015.