Airlines say passengers and their baggage are getting heavier, and they're responding with new safety plans

  • Airlines say passenger weights have increased between 5% and 10% since past estimates, the WSJ reports.
  • American Airlines told The Journal that its new average passenger weight was 182 pounds in summer, up 8 pounds.
  • Higher average passenger weights require updated safety protocols, and could mean fewer people on flights.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has asked US airlines to update their average weight estimates for passengers and baggage as part of their safety plans, the Wall Street Journal reported.


Load Error

The government body has given airlines until June 12 to submit their plans for keeping planes within weight limits. These plans would include new estimates for average passenger and baggage weights, The Journal reported. The FAA must approve each airline’s plan.

Unnamed airline officials told The Journal that weight estimates for passengers and baggage had risen between 5% and 10%, although did not say over what time period.

Higher estimates could mean more passengers and baggage being knocked off flights. Flights taking off from higher altitudes and on very hot days would be most affected, because more effort is needed to lift the plane’s wings, The Journal reported.

The FAA last asked airlines to submit weight estimates in 2005, per the Journal.

American Airlines’ new average passenger weight was 182 pounds in summer, and 187 in winter, up 8 pounds for both, a company spokesperson told Insider in an emailed statement.

The spokesperson said that these new weights were used to calculate weight and balance on an aircraft, and are not “limits” to passengers’ weight.

Mike Byham, American’s director of operations engineering, told The Journal that the company had been preparing for a year to update its estimates.

“The customer will see absolutely no change,” Byham told the Journal. “We know what type of impact we’re looking at, so you just have to plan ahead.”

The changes come as more passengers resume air travel after more than a year of pandemic restrictions.

The FAA did not immediately respond to Insider for comment.

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