Airlines could soon start weighing passengers before flights

The interior of the cabin after landing with empty seats

Airline passengers may be required to step on the scale at the airport or share how much they weigh before boarding a flight, a new report suggests.

Data airlines use to measure passenger weight to ensure safety onboard planes may be outdated as the obesity rate in the U.S. increases. Now, air carriers may have to update average passenger weight, according to the airline blog View from the Wing, citing a circular advisory sent out by the Federal Aviation Administration. 

Under the new pending requirements, reviewed by airline industry publication AirInsightGroup, airlines would be mandated to take surveys to set "standard average passenger weights" for crew members, baggage and passengers through random sampling and call on passengers to participate.

"Regardless of the sampling method used, an operator has the option of surveying each passenger and bag abroad the aircraft and should give a passenger the right to decline to participate in any passenger or weight survey," the guidance says, according to AirInsightGroup.

The survey is said to be conducted on a voluntary basis, so if a passenger declines to participate, the airline is advised to select another traveler at random, according to the guidance. 

The weight of an average adult passenger and carry-on bag will be increased to 190 pounds in the summer and 195 pounds in the winter – that’s up 12% from 170 pounds and 175 pounds, AirInsightGroup noted of the new FAA standards. Airlines would have to increase the average weight for female passengers and carry-ons from 145 pounds to 179 pounds in the summer and from 150 pounds to 184 pounds in the winter, according to the standards, while the weight for males with carry-ons will go up from 185 pounds in the summer to 200 pounds and from 190 pounds to 205 pounds in the winter. 

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The FAA suggests air carriers compete these surveys every 36 calendar months, according to the advisory circular.  Passenger’s weight is also said to remain confidential, according to the FAA guidance. 

It’s unclear when travelers may be expected to step on the scale at airports or asked about their weight. The FAA did not immediately return a request for comment. 

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