Thursday, January 20, 2005

Loads 2: Weighing Pax

Today the travelling public is officially fatter.

When you fly on an airline you've noticed that your checked baggage is weighed, and if you've ever been assessed fees for extra baggage, you've probably grumbled that other passengers are carrying that much weight around their waists or in their carry-ons, and no one weighed them.

It would contribute to safety if passengers were required to board a weighing scale before boarding the aircraft, but apparently that indignity is still too great for airlines to inflict on customers. Instead, we use standard weights, officially sanctioned average weights for men, women, children and infants. The weight of the passengers (often spelled "pax" in the industry) is determined from whether the boarding card says Mr. or Ms.

For many years, an adult male has been considered to weigh 182 lbs, including summer clothing and carry-on baggage. Adult females were counted at 135 pounds. Realistic? I weigh more than that with no clothes on, and my doctor has no complaints about my weight when I renew my medical certificate. There are plenty of female pax chunkier than me.

As of today, the standard passenger weights have changed. In summer, women now weigh 165 pounds and men 200 pounds. Children (age 2-11) weigh 75 pounds and infants (under 2) 30 pounds. In the winter, adults are considered to weigh six pounds more. (The allowance is for winter clothing, not Christmas turkey). The weights are apparently based on a Statistics Canada survey done in 2003.

The notes indicate that the carry-on is considered to weigh 13 lbs and summer clothing and shoes 8 lbs, meaning that the average Canadian male over eleven years of age weighs 179 pounds, naked. That may be true, but a greater proportion of fifty year olds than twelve year olds travel by air, and there are a lot of twenty-five pound carry-ons out there. Operators are still required to apply common sense to their load calculations, and to use actual weights when appropriate.

Also, RVSM (nothing to do with weight) comes into effect down to FL290 across Canada today. Perhaps I'll have time to blog about that tomorrow.


SkyCaptain said...

As I recall, the more realistic weight approximation came as a result of the Beech 1900 which stalled just after rotation in Charlotte. W&B was out of whack and she couldn't control it. That sucked bad.

Phibius said...

At least one little Irish airline actually weighs passengers individually for their trip from Oranmore to the Aran Islands.