DID you read about the flight from Liverpool to Geneva that was delayed because it had too many men on board?
The weight of passengers and luggage are taken into consideration on any flight. British airlines use an estimate of how much each passenger weighs to calculate the total load. For a man they allow 88 kilograms (13 stone 8 lbs), and for a woman 70 kilograms (11 stone).
There were 135 men and only 19 women on the flight which meant the passenger load was much heavier than if there had been an equal number of each sex on board. They were, in fact, an estimated 300 kilograms overweight.
The airline had to ask for four male volunteers to stand down and take the next flight.
In a world of high technology and breathtaking scientific achievement, this seems a rather silly scenario. Surely there is a better way of doing it?
Years ago, on a near empty Pakistan International Airways flight from Karachi to London, I witnessed weight distribution at its most basic.
I was in the rear section of a wide bodied Boeing with only a handful of other travellers. Two rows behind me was a rock band and a flight attendant asked the bass player – who was at least 20 stone – to sit in the middle of the back row on his own for take-off and landings to balance the aircraft.
This was a request that did little to boost passenger confidence or the self esteem of the fat lad who was asked to move.
And yet, on a flight with Ryanair from Ireland last month, the same principal of weight distribution was still in operation.
The flight was less than full and the first half dozen rows were deliberately left empty. And then, before take-off, a flight attendant invited six men to move to the first row. Amazing how margins matter.
Obesity is at epidemic proportions in the US and UK. People are getting bigger and passenger weight is a problem that will only increase. Seats are already too small and personal space too confined.
There may come a day when the Large and Proud fraternity hold a world conference in Las Vegas and airlines are grounded when members are unable to get out of the aircraft because they have melded with their seats after a long-haul flight.
Common sense says it is only a matter of time before economy seats have to become wider and leg-room more generous. And, accordingly, flights will be more expensive
Then the next step would be for all passengers to be weighed at check-in along with their luggage.
“Would you mind stepping on the scales, sir? My, you are a big one. Now we know who ate all the pies.”
And perhaps travellers will have to pay extra if they are overweight, like you do if your luggage is too heavy.
This, of course, will not bother me as I’m 5ft 6in tall and 11 stone. Bring it on. I could end up with a rebate and enough room to sleep.