First, your bags and now your... body? The story behind Uzbekistan Airways' request to weight their passengers before wheels-up
By now, we're all familiar with the airport security drill. We don't think twice before stripping off our shoes, jacket, and belt, dropping our bag on the conveyor belt, and raising our arms for a scanner that leaves little to the imagination. But just when you thought airlines couldn't be more invasive, you might have to add a public weigh-in to your pre-flight routine—at least, if you're flying Uzbekistan Airways. (Make the flight a little less stressful by flying in these Workout Clothes that Double as Travel Outfits.)
The central Asia-based airline just announced a new policy requiring that all passengers to be weighed and measured before boarding the plane. All the airline would say about the new rule was that the weights would be kept anonymous and used for research purposes to help the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in ensuring flight safety.
That may be all they have to say, but we, on the other hand, have so many questions.
First, research for what, exactly?
Second, how does this help ensure flight safety? Sure, it's true that the weight and distribution of cargo on planes—whether that's human, baggage, or alien—affects the way the plane flies and the total weight does indeed need to be under the safety limit established for each plane model. But other airlines have solved that problem without a Biggest Loser-type scale parked at the departure gate. Currently, in the U.S. and Europe, large planes use mathematical and statistical calculations to estimate passenger weight while smaller aircrafts ask passengers to privately report their own weight—methods that so far seem to be working just fine.
But the real question is how will this effect the passengers themselves? Flying can already be a fraught experience—heaven help you if you have a baby or a cold—and the last few years have shown us just how painful it can be when you add an individual person's weight to the equation (remember Kevin Smith's outrage over having to purchase two seats?). So how will the airline ensure the number stays private and that a person won't be singled out for ridicule? Will they train their staff to deal sensitively with weight issues? And...how do we explain to the security guard the difference between what the scale says and what our driver's license says? (Try one of these 4 Ways to Respond to Comments About Your Weight.)
Make no mistake, we're all for anything that makes flying safer and more comfortable for everyone. But forgive us if we're not convinced public weigh-ins are the answer, at least not without a few more answers.