An airline is to start weighing passengers before they board their flights.
No, it’s not Ryanair, it’s Uzbekistan Airways. Officials say it’s for safety reasons because weight has to be taken into consideration, particularly on smaller aircraft.
It can also be crucial on large ones. I was once flying from Karachi to Heathrow with stops in Jeddah and Frankfurt.
The Boeing was so sparsely populated there was only me, three or four other people and a cabaret band in the tail section. No, they were not the in-flight entertainment.
The bass player in the band was an extremely large young gentleman who could have tucked his instrument beneath his chin and used it as a fiddle.
He was asked to sit alone in the middle of the back row for landing and take-off to provide ballast.
Whether this was a genuine concern or cabin staff having fun on a long and boring flight I don’t know, but the chap was extremely obliging.
I’m not sure if today’s passengers would be equally amenable if asked to climb on a weight machine at the boarding gate.
This could be placed handily next to the cage of ignominy – the device to ensure your hand luggage does not exceed size limits.
Budget airlines have taken this to extremes and I have seen travellers donning three sweaters and changing trainers for boots to comply with the regulations.
Mind you, I am in favour of imposing some kind of size limit.
Too often on long hauls I’ve watched in amazement as passengers climb aboard with backpacks big enough for kitchen sinks or small families who take up all available locker space. But weighing machines?
“I’m sorry, sir. You’re three stone overweight for your body height. You’ll have to pay £140 extra or travel in the hold in a luggage net.”
One airline that already charges passengers according to their weight is Samoa Air which uses small aircraft for island hopping in the Pacific.
A year after this was introduced, 95% of the population was declared to be overweight. I can’t wait for such a system to be introduced in America, the land of the free and obese. It could change the way we travel for ever.