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Finnair Sparks Debate By Asking Passengers to Voluntarily Weigh Themselves Before Boarding

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Finland’s national air carrier, Finnair, announced this week that they would ask passengers to voluntarily weigh themselves along with their luggage at the country’s main airport in Helsinki. The information collected will remain anonymous, and will be used to assist with the airline’s total cargo calculations.

Finnair currently uses estimates of people’s average weight to determine aircraft balance calculations. This information is essential to determining that the aircraft remains below the set maximum weight required for a safe takeoff 

Government authorities require Finnair to update these estimates every five years, and Finnair says that it will use the information collected from volunteering passengers in February and April-May of this year to update its estimate.

“We record the total weight and background information of the customer and their carry-on baggage, but we do not ask for the name or booking number, for example. Only the customer service agent working at the measuring point can see the total weight, so you can participate in the study with peace of mind,” Satu Munnukka, Head of Ground Processes at Finnair, said in a statement.

Read more: How U.S. Airlines Handle Plus-Sized Passengers

Nevertheless, some have criticized the move from the airline, saying that collecting weight data on customers is dehumanizing.

In an appearance on U.K. television show Good Morning Britain, model Haley Hasselhoff commented on Finnair's new system, raising concerns that although it's voluntary now, it might become compulsory further down the line. She noted that being weighed at the airport could be “triggering” for some passengers, especially for anyone with an eating disorder, or in recovery from one. 

“I have had friends go to airlines and not know that there was a disclaimer that they were going to be weighed. That’s triggering” said Hasselhoff. 

Others have defended the move, saying that while the option of weighing oneself before a flight might make people uncomfortable, it is worth the slight discomfort if it helps ensure that passengers are safe. 

In contrast to Hasselhoff, broadcaster Neev Spencer said: "I think it is about operational efficiency... weighing yourself, whether you're underweight or overweight, can be a good thing."

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