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FAA Weight & Balance Program Impacts Heavier Air Passengers

June 9, 2021 • 11:37 am CDT
(Vax Before Travel)

The WSJ reported today the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requiring updates to passenger and baggage weight estimates. Each airline must submit a plan by June 12, 2021, explaining which average weights for passengers and baggage they’ll use, including phones and clothing.

Airline officials say the weight estimates previously used for passengers and baggage are going up to 10%. That will affect some flights, possibly requiring that more passengers get bumped or more baggage left behind, said the WSJ.

Furthermore, the FAA will approve each airline’s plan.

This new initiative was outlined in a May 2021 FAA advisory.

The FAA Advisory Circular provided operators with guidance on developing and receiving approval for a Weight and Balance (W&B) control program for aircraft operated under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Registry.

Although the purpose is supposed to improve flight safety, it could also lead to fares based on a passenger's weight, warns public interest law professor John F. Banzhaf, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D., George Washington University Law School.

Since many airlines already charge an additional fee if a passenger's bag is heavier than the airline decrees, similar principles could well be applied to airline passengers themselves, wrote Prof Banzhaf on June 9, 2021.

It is not illegal under federal law, not under most states and local jurisdictions, to discriminate against people who are obese.

Requiring obese air passengers to bear more of the costs they now impose on the majority who are not obese is consistent with the concept of differential health insurance premiums which Banzhaf and his law students helped develop. This concept was adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, added Prof Banzhaf.

Current overweight passenger policies vary by airline.