Outraged passengers claim they were weighed at check-in by airline

Roshina Jowaheer
Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines introduced a policy that saw plane seats allocated once passengers were weighed to manage weight across the cabin - and, as you can imagine, some travellers weren't happy.

For a six-month period, the airline weighed passengers who flew from the American Samoan capital of Pago Pago to Hawaii's capital Honolulu, which some reports suggested was over Samoa's high obesity rate, where up to 74.6 per cent of adults are considered obese.

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Two American Samoa businessmen filed a complaint with the US Transportation Department over the policy.

Avamua Dave Haleck told Radio New Zealand it was an injustice because it is the only route that Hawaiian is weighing passengers.

He said he would understand if it was a safety issue, but asked: "So have we been flying unsafe for all these years?"

But Hawaiian Airlines has defended the move and told AOL Travel it is not about the weight of the aircraft but about distribution of weight in the main cabin.

Spokesman Alex Da Silva said: "This action resulted from the recognition that over time our fuel burn on Pago Pago (PPG) flights was consistently much higher than projected, indicating that our weight assumptions were inaccurate."

"Since fuel consumption can change due to a multitude of factors like wind, fuel policy changes, flight routing, etc., we perform a process of elimination to eliminate all other factors before we conclude that the assumed passenger weight is not representative of the actual passenger weight for a particular route. That triggers a passenger weight survey to establish a new 'standard' passenger weight for that route only."

Mr Da Silva added that using FAA protocols, the airline conducted a survey over a six-month period from February, weighing all passengers with their carry-on luggage.

"The survey results confirmed that our aircraft cabin weight was heavier than projected," he said. "This requires us to manage the distribution of weight across each row in our cabin and we have elected to do so by making sure that one seat in each row is either empty or occupied by a traveller under the age of 13."

The airline continues to allocate seats at the airport only but says "no customers will be asked to step on scales before they are allocated seats".

Mr Da Silva said: "The decision to assign seats at the airport was made because that is the most efficient way to manage weight distribution. This allows us to make sure that families with children are seated together, for example, and it minimizes the confusion created by changing pre-selected seats.

"We conducted our first flight under the weight distribution guidelines this week and were able to accommodate all passengers and accommodate all parties traveling together."

According to Pacific Islands Report, the US Transportation Department responded to the businessmen's complaint and said the policy is "is not discriminatory".