Airport representational image
Airport representational image BRIAN SNYDER/Reuters

Finnair is weighing passengers voluntarily along with their hand luggage before they board their flights from Helsinki Airport.

The flag carrier of Finland has announced it will be carrying this procedure for the next three months. Finnair is doing the weigh-ins to evaluate exactly how full planes are - information which can help determine the fuel efficiency of aircraft.

The process will be anonymous and the Finnish airline will only record in their database the age, genders and travel classes of the people who will volunteer to get themselves weighed before boarding.

"Airlines are required to update the average weight of passengers every five years, to ensure the data used for flight planning and aircraft balance calculations is accurate. We want to reassure customers that participation is optional and all data collected is anonymous and will not be linked to customers' personal profiles," Finnair said in a statement.

It has also been reported that the weighing area in Finnair will alternate between short Schengen-area flights and longer-haul ones in February and April-May to gather seasonal results. The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency will then calculate average weights from the data collected this summer and the airline will use those numbers for the aircraft balance and loading evaluations from 2025 to 2030.

Kaisa Tikkanen, a spokesperson for Finnair, has revealed that "measurements began at Helsinki Airport this week on Monday" and more than 500 volunteer customers have already participated in the weigh-ins.

She also explained that calculating the total weight of a plane, taking into consideration all criteria including fuel, checked baggage and cargo, onboard catering, water tanks, and of course, the passengers, helps in making flights safer.

The weight of an aircraft is a significant statistic for safety. A few hundred or thousand pounds can eventually make a lot of difference between a successful and failed take off. Therefore, it is very important for the pilots to have an accurate idea of how much their jet weighs when fully loaded.

Finnair conducted a similar survey in 2017, and it is not the only airline to do so. Korean Air announced weigh-ins for passengers in August, and Air New Zealand did the same in May.

Last year, around 19 passengers were asked to leave an easyJet flight as the plane had gotten too heavy to fly from Arrecife in Lanzarote to Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

"EasyJet can confirm that 19 passengers on flight EZY3364 from Lanzarote to Liverpool volunteered to travel on a later flight as a result of the aircraft being over the weight limits for the weather conditions. This is a routine operational decision in these circumstances and weight restrictions are in place for all airlines for safety reasons," an easyJet spokesperson explained at the time.