Airlines to Update Weight Requirements by 10%

Transit passengers wait in line upon their arrival at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport Tuesday Dec. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

The Federal Aviation Administration has ruled that airlines must update their passenger and baggage weight estimates, and it may lead to more passengers getting bumped or luggage being left behind.

Airlines set weight limits for flight safety, and now they must send a detailed plan to the FAA that will elaborate how the average weights for passengers and baggage they’ll use, and how they arrived at those numbers. The weight estimate must be detailed, so much so airlines need to calculate the weight down to the ounces added by a passenger’s cellphone, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Every airplane has a basic weight of the structure and whatever is on board, and changes with the fuel, passengers, and luggage. There’s a maximum weight that cannot be exceeded in order for a flight to take off safely. Therefore, if a plane is too heavy, passengers may be bumped or luggage may be held behind for another flight.

Weight estimates are likely to go by 5%-10%, but passengers won’t need to go on a scale. The FAA recommends that airlines add 5 pounds for clothing and personal items in the summer, 10 pounds in the  winter.

The last time the FAA updated the weight requirements, in 2005, Americans weighed less and airplanes were less tightly packed with passengers.