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Wanted: 150 Finnair passengers willing to step on the scale

In a pilot programme, 150 plucky Finnair passengers will get a chance to help the airline calculate plane loads by stepping on a scale at the departure gate. The company says the practice, which will begin on Tuesday, will be purely voluntary.

Matkustajia lentokoneessa.
Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

Starting Tuesday, ticket holders for Finnair flights can volunteer to step on the scale at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. During the months of October and November the airline will be collecting data on the weight of passengers and their carry-on luggage.

The airline will use the average findings to calculate an aircraft's weight and balance. Previously, to make the calculations, Finnair relied on standards from the European Aviation Safety Agency EASA that date back to 2009.

Finnair said that it wants up-to-date data on plane loads based on its own networks and typical customers.

"Loads are different in the summer, for example, when people don't have their winter jackets and shoes and other paraphernalia. There is also a considerable seasonal difference in hand luggage weight for business and leisure travellers," said Finnair's media relations director Päivyt Tallqvist.

Data collection to resume next spring

Passenger weigh-ins will take place on a voluntary basis. The first data-gathering phase will attempt to entice 150 ticket holders to participate. Tallqvist nevertheless said she hopes to attract as many people as possible to sign up.

"The scales will measure the combined weight of the passengers and their hand luggage. No one but the customer service provider will see the results, which will be entered into the database anonymously," says Tallqvist.

In addition to weight, the airline will gather information about the customer's age, gender, travel purpose, passenger class and checked-in luggage.

Once the first phase is complete, the airline will determine how many more weighing sessions are required to make the data statistically significant. Tallqvist estimates that this number will be between 1,000 and 1,500. This means that the scale could still return to departure gates this winter and next spring.

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