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Weighing passengers before flights with “pressure pad” scales may be in our futures

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Before you know it — you may be weighed prior to boarding your next flight.

It is very rare for passengers to be weighed prior to a flight — with smaller air crafts to be the exception where the weight of travelers and the balance of the aircraft are safety-critical.

In pursuit of cutting costs as well as carbon emissions, the Berkshire-based company, Fuel Matrix, is allegedly discussing the deployment of “pressure pads” in the UK that would discreetly weigh passengers as they pass through the airport.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The data could then be passed directly to the flight deck for pilots to work out precisely how much fuel their plane needs.

The idea of a pressure pad has ranged from self-service baggage drops or at security body scan machines.

Airlines under normal circumstances have to carefully calculate just how much fuel they need for flights as the heavier the load, the more fuel they need.

And as using more fuel is expensive for carriers, it also produces more carbon emissions.

Airlines currently calculate the total weight of its passengers based on gender.

But according to Fuel Matrix, they believe this calculation makes airlines use more fuel than actually needed.

Image via U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Areca T. Bell

Nick Brasier, Chief operating officer, shared with the Independent how most flights carry about one percent more fuel than needed and burn .3 to .5 percent more fuel due to the extra fuel weight.

“More airports and airlines are moving towards self-service bag drops, where the passenger uses a screen-based system to weigh their baggage on scales and answer questions about its contents.”

“We’re not suggesting people should stand on the scales, but airports could fit ‘pressure pads’ in the bag-drop area in front of each screen.”



“After the bag has been checked in, the system can ask, ‘Are you standing on the pressure pad?’”

“If the passenger taps ‘Yes’, then the weight can be recorded and passed confidentially to the airline.”

The aircraft dispatcher as well as captain can then work together to calculate the exact “zero-fuel weight” of the aircraft — which is the weight of the plane itself plus all the cargo and passengers — and load the appropriate amount of fuel.

Image via DODLive

Another alternative location for weighing passengers would be at the security checkpoint during the full body scan used at airports.

After the data would be gathered, it would be securely handled and destroyed after the flight lands at its destination.

And it should be noted that heavier passengers do not need to pay extra though some airlines do insist that overweight passengers that cannot comfortably sit in a standard seat purchase an extra seat.

Using more fuel is not only expensive for carriers but also produces more carbon emissions.

Image via U.S. Air Force photo/Robert Fox

But it is not the first time the idea of secretly weighing passengers has been debated.

Back in 2015, Uzbekistan Airways announced how it would weigh passengers at check-in desks.

It was alleged that some overweight people would be excluded from busy flights on smaller planes if the limits are exceeded.

And in 2017, Finnair also launched a similar method — however, it was strictly on a volunteer basis.

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