A British start-up would like to know what airline passengers weigh before they board their flights.
It's not nosey or pushing a fitness kick or trying to make people feel bad. It doesn't even want to make it obvious it's calculating a person's weight. It just wants to save the planet from carbon emissions and save the airlines some money, according to a report this week by the Lonely Planet.
The company, Fuel Matrix, has developed technology that would allow airlines to determine passengers' weights with more precision than the estimated weights they use now.
"It's critical to know the actual weight an airliner is carrying to ensure the correct fuel uplift," Roy Fuscone, the company's chief executive, was quoted as saying. Instead of relying on generous estimates currently in use - about 88kg for men and about 70kg for each woman, as set by the European Aviation Safety Agency - an airline could know exactly what the people and luggage on board weigh. That might mean taking on less fuel.
While the technology might be new, the concept isn't. Other airlines have sought to alter their practices based on the economics of calculating each passenger's weight, and their baggage.
In 2013, Samoa Air became the first airline to weigh passengers and charge a variable kilogram-per-mile rate based on whatever the scale had to say. To some, the method seemed reasonable, since heavier people take up more space and more energy to move. To others, the move seemed like fat-shaming dressed up as economic fairness.
"Airlines are often accused of treating their passengers like pieces of meat, but Samoa Air have broken new ground," a British columnist wrote in the Guardian at the time. In 2016, Hawaiian Airlines won approval from the US Department of Transportation to assign seats to passengers based on their body weight, the Christian Science Monitor reported.
Lonely Planet said the company is in talks with airports in the United Kingdom to figure out "discreet" methods of determining a passenger's weight. Fuscone also told the travel guide's website that passengers' privacy would be safeguarded just as with any other private data.
- Washington Post