Why Air New Zealand Has Been Weighing Passengers

Passengers flying with Air New Zealand this week might have been in for an interesting surprise: being asked to weigh themselves alongside their carry-on baggage. While this might sound odd to many, it actually part of a standard calculation. Let’s find out more.

Air New Zealand has been asking passengers their weight as a part of a survey held every five years. Photo: Getty Images

Important figures

Air New Zealand is conducting an interesting exercise this week, known as ‘weigh week,’ according to Stuff. During this time, some passengers will be asked to weigh themselves and their cabin baggage during check-in, in addition to their checked bags. While many might be surprised by an airline asking their weight, it is part of a broader study.

The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority requires that airlines hold a ‘weight week’ once every five years. The goal of the survey is to calculate the average weight of an adult passenger, which in turn is used to calculate the takeoff weights of modern jetliners.

The average passenger weight is used to calculate takeoff weights (maximum and minimum) for aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

The latest data from the CAA currently available is based on a survey of 15,000 people from 2003. This found that the average weight of an adult (over 13) was 85.4kgs, and hence 86kg was set as the standard adult weight. However, keeping these figures up to date is important to ensuring aircraft safety and efficiency.

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Not mandatory

Despite the regulatory requirements, some passengers might be uncomfortable with sharing their weight. However, there is some good news on that front as well. The survey itself is not mandatory and passengers can opt-out (although Air New Zealand does encourage it).

For those who do agree to be weighed with their bags, anonymity is maintained. One passenger who participated said that the staff behind the counter could not see the weight or even tell him when he asked. Instead, the data seems to be anonymously saved without anyone seeing it until processing (where it is unlinked from the passenger).

Privacy is an important part of anonymous surveys and helps to garner participation. Photo: Getty Images

Calculating weights onboard is an important safety step and any mistakes can prove dangerous. In a statement about the ‘weigh week’, Air New Zealand Chief Operational Integrity Officer Captain David Morgan said,

“In order to fly safely and efficiently, we need to calculate the weight, balance and fuel requirements of each and every flight ahead of take-off. To do this, we need to know the average weight of our passengers, crew and cabin baggage…Although participating is not compulsory, we do really appreciate our customers helping out.”

Back in the skies

For Air New Zealand, the next week will be an exciting one. April 19th marks the start of the two-way Australia-New Zealand travel bubble, marking the first regular international in nearly a year. The carrier has already ramped up its schedule in anticipation of the bubble and is also starting new routes in Australia. As some international traffic returns, Air NZ will be looking to making a larger recovery this year.

What do you think about the idea of a ‘weigh week’? Let us know in the comments!