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Korean airline announces to weigh its passengers before they board the plane

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Passengers flying through the planes of Korean Air, South Korea’s largest airline, will now have to weigh themselves and their luggage before boarding their respective flights. However, the surprising decision is not an arbitrary one, nor is it intended to body shame or discriminate against passengers of different sizes. Flyers who don’t want to step on the weighing scale can inform the same to concerned airport staff and have the option to opt out.

Also, this new practice of weighing passengers before boarding will last for just around a week. Passengers departing from two of South Korea’s busiest airports, both situated in the capital city of Seoul, will be requested to step onto weighing scales. The initiative is scheduled to start from August 28 until September 3 at South Korea’s Gimpo International Airport and then at Incheon International Airport between September 8 and September 19. 

The move comes after Air New Zealand made a similar announcement in June, this year.

Reason for this abrupt decision

While some passengers may be surprised to find themselves asked to step on a scale, this decision isn’t made by airlines alone – it’s often mandated by governmental airline regulators. Korean Air is one of the few carriers in the world that is required by its country’s regulator to periodically obtain data on the weight distribution of its flights. The idea behind this move is to measure the average weight of passengers and their carry-on luggage and subsequently, study its impact on flight safety and performance. This data is then used to study how a plane’s overall weight affects its fuel consumption and the distances it can fly. The data also helps aviation organisations identify more efficient strategies for distributing weight onboard a plane.

Korean Air said that the passengers and their luggage will be weighed anonymously and the data will then be shared with the country’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, according to a report. However, there is an option for passengers who prefer to not get their weight data collected to opt out of the practice.

Air New Zealand started a similar practice recently

Korean Air’s initiative followed in the footsteps of another major flight carrier, Air New Zealand, which carried out a similar programme in June. Air New Zealand carried out this process with more than 10,000 passengers. The airline stated that this initiative is “essential” to guarantee the secure and efficient functioning of their aircraft, in accordance with the regulations set by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority. Some of its passengers flying on its long international routes, including Auckland to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, got their weight and luggage checked before boarding. “We know stepping on the scales can be daunting. We want to reassure our customers there is no visible display anywhere. No one can see your weight, not even us,” a representative from Air New Zealand, the country’s national carrier, was quoted as saying.

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