Forget the luggage. New Zealand’s national airline is weighing passengers

Passenger handing over bag for weighing at airline check-in
A woman has her luggage weighed during check-in for a flight in Auckland, New Zealand.
(Air New Zealand)

New Zealand’s national airline is asking passengers to step on the scales before they board international flights.

Air New Zealand says it wants to weigh 10,000 passengers during a monthlong survey so that pilots can better know the weight and balance of their planes before takeoff.

But the numbers from the scales won’t be flashing up for all to see. There will be no visible display anywhere, the airline promised, and the weigh-in data will remain anonymous even to airline staff.


“We weigh everything that goes on the aircraft — from the cargo to the meals on board to the luggage in the hold,” Alastair James, a load-control improvement specialist for the airline, said in a statement. “For customers, crew and cabin bags, we use average weights, which we get from doing this survey.”

Indeed, the numbers are required by the nation’s aviation industry watchdog, the Civil Aviation Authority.

Under the authority’s rules, airlines have various options to estimate passenger weight. One option is to periodically carry out surveys like Air New Zealand’s to establish an average weight. Another option is to accept a standard weight set by the authority.

Airfare isn’t inexpensive, especially if you’re flying to a smaller market, and bag fees add to the financial angst.

May 8, 2017

Currently, the authority’s designated weight for people 13 and older is 190 pounds, which includes carry-on luggage. The authority last changed the average passenger weight in 2004, increasing it from 170 pounds.

Health statistics show New Zealanders are becoming heavier on average. The latest national health survey put the adult obesity rate at 34%, up from 31% a year earlier. Childhood obesity rates increased to 13%, up from 10% a year earlier.

Customers on Air New Zealand domestic flights were asked to weigh in a couple of years ago.


James said there was nothing for passengers to fear by stepping on the scales.

Lufthansa says it’s banning AirTags from luggage because their Bluetooth transmission function is ‘classified as dangerous’ and needs to be turned off during flights.

Oct. 11, 2022

“It’s simple, it’s voluntary, and by weighing in, you’ll be helping us to fly you safely and efficiently, every time,” he said.

The airline said the survey began this week and will run through July 2.