Which airport is weighing passengers?

Forget bags, this airport is more interested in how heavy passengers are pre-flight.

rear view of overweight passengers

It may come as no surprise when you arrive at the airport to check in only to be asked to present your luggage for weighing, but what about if it was you they wanted to weigh?

This is exactly the policy that one airport has implemented according to the New York Post. Earlier in October, Pago Pago International Airport in American Samoa put in place the policy that prohibits customers flying on Hawaiian Airlines from pre-selecting their seats.

Seemingly a backwards step, the reasoning behind such a policy is so staff at check-in counters can help to meet airplane weight and balance requirements by, wait for it, ‘eyeballing’ passengers’ weights. The policy also goes so far as to state if they are concerned, in certain circumstances, the agents may also ask a passenger to be weighed before he or she is seated.

Unsurprisingly, the controversial policy has already sparked outrage with two men filing formal complaints to the US Transport Department. They are questioning how the policy could simply be a matter of safety if that in turn means that we have been flying unsafely for all these years?

overweight tourists

With obesity on the rise and plane conditions getting more and more cramped there has been speculation for many years that airlines may target overweight passengers when it comes to purchasing seats and how they impact those around them. Pago Pago have taken the leap and been the first to tackle the issue. It will be interesting to see how their new policy paves the way for other airlines and airports around the world.

Read more about this controversial new policy at the New York Post and weigh in with your opinion on this issue in the comments below. How do you think the aviation industry should handle this delicate subject?

RELATED ARTICLES





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    FrankC
    22nd Dec 2016
    2:01pm
    A number of years ago, I went up in a helicopter to the top of Fox Glacier. Before we left the check in room, we were all weighed, and our seating arrangements defined. I guess this is a little more important in a larger one than that small one in Vanuatu where you aren't
    weighed
    MICK
    31st Dec 2016
    11:40am
    Thanks so much Sue for bringing this issue to light.
    From an aerodynamics point of view determining mass (ie 'weight') and how it is distributed on an aircraft is the difference between lifting off or crashing. The centre of gravity for the particular aircraft has strict limits and I have not ever understood why passengers have not been placed on the scales before other than the egos of fat folk demanding otherwise.
    Quite apart from the above my wife had a particularly tough time a couple of years ago with our flight from Denver to Athens. She was placed next to an extremely overweight man who radiated heat like a furnace and whose bits hung over the seat. The guy was very apologetic but clearly people of this mass need to not be placed in average seats when special seats for these folk are filled.
    I cannot understand why regulators are not more stringent with weighing passengers as well as luggage and why airlines do not charge extra for extremely overweight people. It sort of gets up my nose if I am 2 kg over in my bag weight but am myself under 70 kg mass. Pretty unfair.
    in2sunset
    2nd Jan 2017
    3:28pm
    Mick - agree totally. Recently on a flight, I was pinned because my hand luggage was 2kgs over weight. Yet the guy sitting(?) next to me was at least twice my size and nothing said. I know what your mean when you say 'bits hung over the seat'. He commandeered all the arm rest, and every time he crossed his arms, his elbow protruded across my chest. But nothing said - I had to pay extra. Agree is totally unfair and instead of people saying it is discriminatory to charge heavy people more, I say it is discriminatory against light(er) people when you add the person's weight and their luggage together. That should be the determiner.
    Rosret
    31st Dec 2016
    7:33am
    I think its totally fair. My 20 kg grandchild has the same baggage allowance as the 100 kg man. The 150 kg person is taking up more than their economy sized seat.
    Weight = flying cost on an aircraft so lets make it fair. However since men are usually heavier than women and this is a male orientated world its unlikely to happen.
    On those smaller aircraft weight is everything and your weight does count.
    I think you will find we are " average" weighed for the seating. They know our age and sex and that gives the software program a good idea of how to even out the load. They also know our average full plane load by the fuel consumed over multiple flights. They know human average weights have increased and have adjusted the fuel load to accommodate the change.
    MICK
    31st Dec 2016
    12:12pm
    It's a tricky job Rosret. Most people have no understanding of the mathematics involved and the fact that it is not just about weight but also how that weight is distributed on the aircraft which is important. It wouldn't be the first time a plane was badly loaded and unable to lift off.
    Weighing people as well as luggage should always have been the case.
    Infinityoz
    31st Dec 2016
    9:16am
    At Savusavu Airport in Fiji and for those flying to Savusavu from Nadi, all passengers are weighed. The plane is small [an Otter], it needs to be balanced during flight, and passengers are allocated seats to achieve this. There is a total weight limit for passengers and baggage. If the weight of passengers is not too high, that allows for heavier bags to be loaded - passengers come first, so if the weight limit is exceeded a bag may have to be left for the next flight. I don't see a problem with this, not sure what the article is on about! I'm sure that small airport in American Samoa also uses Otters, so all the above would apply there too.
    MICK
    31st Dec 2016
    12:14pm
    It is common sense. The trouble with anybody who objects is that they see the process as an insult to them rather than the necessity is is. The smaller the plane the more important this becomes also.
    Young
    31st Dec 2016
    9:17am
    All airports should do this
    Retired Knowall
    4th Jan 2017
    5:19pm
    And enforce the size/weight restrictions for carry on luggage.
    Eddy
    31st Dec 2016
    9:34am
    This proposal does not seem unreasonable to me. When I travelled on Air Force planes they always checked passengers weight so they could calculate a proper 'weight and balance'. Standing on a weighing platform, with my carry-on, to have my total weight checked is a minimal inconvenience. Any person with a BMI over 30 has the choice of reducing their weight, if they choose not to then they must suffer the consequence, in both health risks and airline seat allocation.
    Have we been flying unsafely for years due to passenger weight, probably not since aircraft are usually only fuelled to the minimum required for the next stage and it is this minimal fuel weight which saves the day
    There was a tragedy when a plane load of soldiers crashed on take-off, it was a long haul flight with maximum fuel. The investigators checked all the soldiers medical records to calculate the actual total weight and found that the aircraft was several thousand kg overweight. The charter airline had used the industry standard of 75kg per passenger to calculate passenger weight and it was totally inadequate.
    MICK
    31st Dec 2016
    12:15pm
    Good to see somebody who understands the issues.
    Rocky
    31st Dec 2016
    10:22am
    Yes I do understand about weight distribution, however, this is where it starts next it will be diabetics or heart problems sorry we can't have you on our flight because you might have an episode
    I think it is time the airlines changed their averages and thought about the people a little more
    KSS
    31st Dec 2016
    2:26pm
    If by this you mean install larger seats to accommodate the obese passenger, fine, but we will all pay more as fewer seats will be available and the costs therefore distributed among fewer customers.

    There are already protocols in place for those for whom the extended safety belt is not enough - they won't be taken by some airlines, and other airlines insist that the seriously obese buy two seats to accommodate the 'spillage'.

    Given that even those of healthy weight can be subjected to health issues due to flying e.g. DVT, I do wonder whether the commonplace cramped space, in cattle-class particularly, contributes to triggering or exacerbating other health issues in the seriously obese.
    Rosret
    31st Dec 2016
    6:47pm
    Rocky - one hopes the individual is responsible enough to understand the issues associated with diabetes and heart conditions. However there is a date before a pregnant woman can no longer fly, if you are vomiting or have flu like systems, infectious, drunk etc. you will not be allowed to board the aircraft.
    There are huge responsibilities when travelling and no one takes medical conditions lightly.
    Glad to hear about the obese ruling - it wasn't in place when I was immobilised from being crushed by an over sized human. Believe me - it was painful.
    Eddy
    1st Jan 2017
    12:25pm
    There is no inconsistency in my mind between a real, or supposed, rules regarding morbidly obese passengers, passengers exhibiting signs of illness, the intoxicated and women who are in late stage of pregnancy. These rules are for the convenience and/or safety of all on board. As for diabetics or those suffering cardiac problems all I can say is I have never been asked questions about whether I suffer these conditions (although they may be in the 'fine print' of conditions of travel which I don't read).
    I do suppose however, that the sub-space flights "soon" to be offered by Virgin Galactic may have more stringent health conditions.

    31st Dec 2016
    10:25am
    Pago Pago is in Samoa. (Yes, I know it's the American bit.) Imagine trying to fly a 30 seater with the Samoan rugby team all sitting on one side of the plane.

    Yep. makes sense to weigh passengers.
    MICK
    31st Dec 2016
    12:16pm
    Sitting on one side of the plane is far safer than having the centre of gravity outside of the limits but your post does present us with the issues.
    Arisaid
    31st Dec 2016
    5:46pm
    Samoans do tend to be large people
    SWOZ
    31st Dec 2016
    10:59am
    All airlines should have total weight limits for passenger+ carry-on luggage. Any total weight over 120 Kg should either pay for 2 seats, fly business or first class, or be left off the plane. If you can afford to fly, you can afford to buy a set of scales and weigh yourself and your hand luggage before booking a flight. Enforcing those rules may well bring the air ticket prices down. At the same time, it would allow a light weight person to either check-in, or carry on more luggage. Anything sent by air freight is always invoiced by weight. Parcel freight and people freight should be treated the same.
    Old Dog
    31st Dec 2016
    1:02pm
    I have flown quite a lot, mass has never been a problem for me as I am quite a small person. On at least one of the airlines that I have used has a policy of requiring large,"overweight" persons to book two seats. They may feel that they are being discriminated against but for my money, a little discrimination of that kind is better than having "normal" passengers seated in probably greater discomfort than they normally are (especially economy class) and having a risk of aircraft overload because of oversized passengers.
    Nan Norma
    31st Dec 2016
    11:00am
    I watched a Airplane Disaster show on TV. The plane was full. Then the captain was asked to take on some urgent luggage. (Oxygen masks from another plane) The captain give the OK as he believed, according to his rule book, they would still be under weight capacity. The plane crashed. Overweight! They finally realised the rule book had been written when passengers were much slimmer. People are much heavier today.
    Nan Norma
    31st Dec 2016
    11:02am
    The two people depicted as overweight, are nothing to some I've seen.
    MICK
    31st Dec 2016
    12:18pm
    Ditto.
    particolor
    31st Dec 2016
    12:22pm
    AIRPORT TALKING SCALES..
    " One at a time please " :-)
    Anonymous
    31st Dec 2016
    1:02pm
    LOL
    particolor
    31st Dec 2016
    1:41pm
    " Please step back on scales without Luggage thank you " :-) :-)
    Rosret
    31st Dec 2016
    6:49pm
    :)
    Fess44
    31st Dec 2016
    1:00pm
    When you fly to Lord Howe Island you are weighed with your baggage, and seats are allocated accordingly. Small planes have load limits that can't be exceeded. It's a matter of aerodynamics. If the takeoff weight is exceeded, something has to be unloaded. It's either that or die. Simple choice, really.
    Sapper
    31st Dec 2016
    1:15pm
    Ever sat next door to an obese person in cattle class on a long haul flight? Every one else suffers because of the obese person. Perhaps the solution is to eyeball the passengers and have special rows set aside for obese people? Maybe then they will realise what it is like for others?
    particolor
    31st Dec 2016
    1:44pm
    PHEW !!:-( Open yer Window will ya mate :-) :-) :-)
    Works every time ! :-)
    The pom
    31st Dec 2016
    5:03pm
    I agree with the sentiment but Can you just imagine the screams from the righteous about demonising those poor Obese people.
    Anonymous
    31st Dec 2016
    5:06pm
    No, The pom, I can't.
    CindyLou
    31st Dec 2016
    1:35pm
    I don't see it as being "delicate" - If a person is obese it's NOT a secret, it's higly visable - its most unpleasant to be seated next to a very large person, whether on a plane, in a theatre or show with allocated seating. whilst being sympathetic to the individual I'm also sorry for myself when my 'experience' is affected. Recently paid a lot for Andre Rieu show, seated beside a big man - did impact a little on my experience.

    So, in relation to this topic I believe there needs to be something done - not sure what but it does not seem fair, eg a 60 kg person with 20kg luggage (80kg total) vs 115kg person and 20 kg luggage (135 kg). If the smaller person exceeds the 20kg luggage they are hit with extra charges ?
    KSS
    31st Dec 2016
    2:17pm
    This is nothing new. I can remember about 40 years ago my Grandmother on a package trip to Disneyland in America via charter flight from London was weighed with all her baggage before being allowed to board.

    I wish that ALL inflight bags were actually measured and weighed as well. I have just done a trip which entailed three flights each way. On each flight the seat got smaller and the luggage cabins more overloaded. I did note that for the last flight (going) and first flight (returning) people were asked at the check-in to 'volunteer' to place their bags in the hold because there was not enough room for everyone. Not very successfully I might add. For the most part people don't even access their inflight baggage during the flight so how important is it really? Have a change of underwear and required medication in pockets and carry reading material if you must and check everything else!
    The pom
    31st Dec 2016
    4:29pm
    I think some of the people commenting here would have had heart attacks on one plane trip I made. We were to travel to a probable combat zone and the plane was an aged RAF cargo style plane with canvas seating. I was trying to get to the front as I was needed but no transport had been arranged, so when I saw a spare seat on this plane I took it. There was no passenger manifest, no weigh in of the machine guns and ammo, no stowage plan. When the pilot got on board he asked somebody how much the machine guns weighed, did a quick mental calculation, asked for a few of them to be moved further up the plane then climbed into his seat and we took off. As I am still able to write this you can see we made it
    Rosret
    31st Dec 2016
    6:55pm
    RAF Hercules pilots know their job. I am sure you were very safe even though the trip was a little noisy. Look at it this way - no long queues, no check in, no long taxiing down the runway. Its up and off in minimal time with the country's best pilots and flight crew. You were safe. :)
    The pom
    31st Dec 2016
    8:03pm
    The plane certainly wasn't a Hercules or even a Beverly Boxcar, it was a twin engine high wing monoplane of unknown type, 2 radial engines. I suspect it was at the end of it's service life and only held a machine gun section and myself, with all our combat gear. If there had been a first class I would have had it as the senior officer on board
    but it was cattle class for all of us. No mid air drinks or meals unless you happened to have a bottle of water on you. There was a second crew man and that was it
    The pom
    31st Dec 2016
    8:10pm
    I forgot to mention there was no tie down gear and the Vickers machine guns were just all on the floor of the plane, among the ammo boxes
    particolor
    31st Dec 2016
    8:28pm
    Sounds like Fokker Friendship to me ? And no I wasn't swearing :-) :-)
    The pom
    31st Dec 2016
    11:19pm
    I reckon it was a Twin Pioneer which the RAF had a few in service in the late 50 and 60s.
    Rosret
    1st Jan 2017
    8:03am
    Did it have a toilet? I must admit it sounds rather shaky.
    After the war (a story from my father) the prisoner of war troops were carried back from Japan. Some made the terrible mistake of lying on the bombay doors.
    Arisaid
    31st Dec 2016
    5:56pm
    Have had a few "difficult" moments sitting next to obese people. Worst was getting on a plane in Auckland to fly to Australia. I was seated next to the window. Next to me came 2 very obese English women along with their big cabin baggage. Shoved bags in locker with force and then forced themselves into the seats. I was squashed against the side of the plane. Going to the toilet was impossible as I couldn't get past them. Thank goodness it wasn't a long haul! I asked to be moved but the standard reply of 'no seats available'. Another time I was on a train when a very obese man got on and sat next to/on top of me. I asked him to remove his bum from my leg and at the next station he jumped up and got out so fast. Obese people obviously have the right to travel but they should do it so that it doesn't disadvantage other travellers.
    particolor
    31st Dec 2016
    8:13pm
    You can always be cheeky and ask the Hosty to pull down the OXYGEN Mask for you :-) :-) :-)

    31st Dec 2016
    6:07pm
    all your moans and groans are easy fixed, travel business class, comfortable seats, ample leg room, nobody robs you of your overhead storage, great meals and drinks, what more do you want, it cost a bit more but it is worth the money, in the worst case you also can travel economy plus, more room and in most cases better meals, after all you get what you pay for, sometimes it pays to save for another year and travel comfortable then to complain and all you can remember of your holiday are the bad things. I used to fly cattle class till one day I was offered business class, have never flown anything else.
    The pom
    31st Dec 2016
    8:24pm
    I agree Business class is the way to go , but I am a little peeved that as a non-drinker I pay the same fare as the person drinking Haigs blue label or mini bottles of champagne, or wine whilst I am drinking water
    at least I do get the same meal offers, and can sleep in comfort and stretch out when I want to. I travel in very casual but clean comfortable clothes and it a joy to see the expression of the little man at the Business class door point out the cattle class door to me until I show him my boarding card.
    Rosret
    1st Jan 2017
    8:15am
    Hehe there was a time where one would only fly first class however somewhere along the line prices went up from a little extra to the price a new small car for one seat.
    Even if it was affordable I hate being ripped off. - oddly (shock horror) I didn't like the food they served in first class and the over attentive flight attendants.
    That is what I liked about Virgin Airlines - one class - and everyone is served as an equal.
    emjay
    31st Dec 2016
    6:18pm
    About time. Why don't all airlines follow this practise? I have to pay excess if my luggage is a bit over, but me & luggage together are lighterthan quite a lot of people.

    Incidentally my local hospital won't take patients for surgery or childbirth if their BMI is too high, but that's another story.
    Chris B T
    31st Dec 2016
    8:38pm
    Airlines at the point of sale of ticket, being online or otherwise are not requesting your weight.
    The only request is male or female, adult or child. Some allow children under 2 to fly free with an adult and on their lap for the flight, if you require a seat a child fare is required.
    The weight will always be an issue until a request for your weight be ask when purchaseing your ticket. This issue generally only applys to cattle class, as other classes have larger seats and more luggage allowance.
    Smaller aircarft have only one class, flying to Lord Howe you are weighed holding your luggage. This is not only center of graivity issue but allows the airline to know exactly what the weight of passengers and luggage are this allows them carry the max cargo.
    {;-)
    Kevanne
    1st Jan 2017
    3:41pm
    Small planes around outback have to do this. And really, how come someone who weighs 60 kgs pays same as someone who weighs 120kgs? Maybe it should go on your BMI? That could be fair.
    dabs
    1st Jan 2017
    4:40pm
    Why is this all new? Back in 1996 on a trip to PNG we were weighed before catching a flight from Mt Hagen. As I recall, if you had a flight booked it did not guarantee you a seat, only compensation if you was turned away.

    1st Jan 2017
    8:16pm
    please can we get some thoughtful comments in these columns, why argue about the weight of a person, do you expect every new born to be the same weight, with other words if one weights at birth 3kg he or she should be charged less then one who weights 4 kg or charged less then the next one who is a whopper at 5kg, all those stating they were put on the scales were flying in small aircrafts where distribution of the weight is essential for take off and landing on small airfields, with other words you even out the weight ratio, it still amazes me the comments of certain persons stating their wives were sitting next to obese persons, how simple to fix this, change places or even better sit together in the left or right hand seats next to the windows, why get a seat in the middle rows, however as I stated before fly business class, all your worries be over, yes it may cost you more but it make your journey a hell of a lot more pleasant, one can sleep without worry the bloke in front of you drops the seat on top of you, you have better meals, more drinks, may it be water or what ever, and as for not liking the meals, it is always hard to please all, especial those who never can be satisfied, if you can't afford to travel in comfort don't travel at all unless you accept the discomfort of travelling cattle class
    particolor
    1st Jan 2017
    8:27pm
    MOO !!
    Anonymous
    1st Jan 2017
    8:46pm
    typical answer of an unwashed contributor to these columns any wonder this beautiful country is going down the drain, particolor give us some more of your dumb and drongo replies you are known for.
    Arisaid
    1st Jan 2017
    10:00pm
    When travelling long haul we save up and go business class when we can so have the bigger seat etc. However sometimes when going short haul i.e. to NZ etc it is not always possible for us to go business. Therefore the weight of the person sitting next to me is of great concern. As I have stated above have been squashed against the side of the plane - and that was more than once. Change places you say - might I ask with whom?? These flights are often full so no hope of changing seats. I often travel to NZ alone to see family so can't have my skinny husband next to me!!
    Rosret
    2nd Jan 2017
    8:28am
    ...and a Happy New Year to you heemskerk99. Please note that we aren't standing for parliamentary pre-selection on this comment forum. Treat this more like pub talk where we can all just have a chat and vent a little. So long as no one verbally attacks another I find most on this site are delightfully intelligent with their own views and political bias after a long life experiencing a multitude of change and up and downs in their life.
    The article was put up to "bait" conversation. The author knows exactly why the passengers are weighed.
    It was to touch on our embarrassment at the thought of stepping on those scales in public - especially after the Christmas/New Year eat fest. And trust me I am going no where near my scales until February!
    Retired Knowall
    2nd Jan 2017
    12:51pm
    1300355506
    PIXAPD
    2nd Jan 2017
    11:54am
    Many are too FAT to FIT the Ford Pill diet chart. Gentle, natural Ford Pills help rid you of ugly surplus fat, restore your lithe, trim figure and bring back buoyant good health. Take Ford Pills regularly and follow the Ford Pills Diet Chart. <<<< old Australian TV advert 1963, I remember it well.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBPWt4OQ-RY
    Radish
    4th Jan 2017
    8:02am
    20 years ago we never had the obesity problem we now have.
    Safety in the air is paramount and I have no objection to being weighed. For heavens sake it is commonsense to make sure the plane can make it into the air!
    Adrianus
    5th Jan 2017
    5:44pm
    I don't know what all the fuss is about? Weight distribution is very important when one is loading a high speed vehicle. Come to think of it, it also applies to slow moving vehicles. Try getting on a camel at cable beach if you are over 100kg. If you are driving at night be sure to balance your load. Don't put the heavies in the back seat. You may get oncoming traffic flashing high beam which is what happened to me.
    Anonymous
    5th Jan 2017
    7:23pm
    great post
    PIXAPD
    5th Jan 2017
    10:42pm
    Seating all he obese in the rear of the plane might cause it to drop backwards at take off or nose dive if they are at the front, seat them in the middle. better center of gravity
    Cranky
    7th Jan 2017
    10:06am
    I have a son who is 6foot 5inches, and weighs in at about 189 kgs...,Its a pleasure to fly with him,as he always smells like imperial leather, and makes a great pillow on the long flight, not to mention if he plane went down I'd have a soft landing !...He wouldn't complain about paying for extra baggage, as it is he pays for me...lol
    Hairy
    11th May 2019
    12:41pm
    I see no problem being weighed.but I object when you get hit for cabin luggage over by a small amount and the person in front of you boarding is twice my weight.Also some cabin luggage is certainly not being policed for size.guy got on board with a guitar and a back pack that took up nearly the whole overhead luggage hold


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles