Starting in late August, Korea Air, the nation’s top airline, has introduced a policy to weigh passengers and their carry-on baggage. This move comes in response to governmental regulations, aiming to enhance flight safety and optimize fuel consumption.
- Aug. 28 to Sept. 6: Weighing sessions for domestic flights at Gimpo Airport
- Sept. 8 to 19: Weighing sessions for international flights at Incheon Airport
The Rationale Behind Weighing
As reported by Korea JoongAng Daily, the decision to weigh passengers is backed by Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The aim is to update the “Aircraft Weight and Balance Management Standards.” This is crucial for:
- Determining the accurate weight distribution of aircraft
- Enhancing flight safety
- Potentially cutting down fuel consumption, leading to significant financial savings
In a survey conducted in 2017, the ministry identified the average summer weight for adult males as 178.6 pounds and 152.1 pounds for females.
Procedure and Privacy Concerns
As per the airline’s announcement, passengers will be asked to step onto scales at boarding gates along with their carried-on items. The data will be gathered anonymously and is purely for survey reasons. The airline has been clear in communicating that this does not imply that overweight passengers will incur additional charges.
Passenger Perspective and Rights
It is important for passengers to be aware of their rights in these scenarios. As Korean Air highlighted, those who are uncomfortable with the weighing process have the option to opt-out. This sets a precedent for passenger agencies, ensuring that even as procedures change, individual comfort, and choice remain prioritized. Passengers are encouraged to read up on airline policies, engage in open communication with airline staff, and provide feedback. Such feedback can be invaluable for airlines as they refine and adapt new processes based on real-world experiences.
Despite the anonymity assurance, the decision has faced online criticism, with privacy being a major concern for many. In response, Korea Air has highlighted the option for passengers to opt-out if they wish.
It’s Not Just Korean Air
This move by Korea Air is not unique. Globally, airlines periodically obtain aircraft weight data. Earlier this year, Air New Zealand conducted a similar program for some of its international routes. The main goal remains consistent: to make informed decisions about fuel requirements and on-board weight distribution.
A Global Trend?
Airlines worldwide have, in the past, taken similar measures. Air New Zealand, for instance, executed a weight survey for its international network. The airline emphasized that such initiatives are essential for the efficient and safe operation of aircraft. Notably, the lighter an airplane, the lesser fuel it consumes, thereby improving its range, as noted by the National Air and Space Museum.
While the decision to weigh passengers might be jarring to some, it’s driven by safety and efficiency motives, not body shaming. Korea Air, along with other airlines, is adapting to these methods, highlighting the evolving nature of the aviation industry and its commitment to ensuring a safe flying experience.
Furthermore, the introduction of such policies might pave the way for more tailored and precise aviation procedures in the future. Accurate data regarding the weight of passengers and their luggage can allow airlines to make real-time adjustments. These adjustments can be related to fuel loading, seat assignments for better weight distribution, and even determining the appropriate amount of in-flight amenities like food and beverages.