May 9, 2013 6:50 pm
Updated: May 9, 2013 10:35 pm

Sunwing passengers upset over check-in weigh-in


EDMONTON – Passengers on a Sunwing flight from Edmonton to Cancun say they were weighed, along with their carry-on luggage, when they checked in.  The airline says it’s part of flight planning.

Sherri Marshall wasn’t happy about being weighed before boarding her flight.

“I just wanted to get away, just take a break from real life,” she recalls.

She says she felt uncomfortable standing on a scale with other passengers standing nearby.

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“They weighed your carry-on with you… It was really weird when we left Edmonton,” says Marshall.

“People are behind you, it was really impersonal.”

Marshall was not weighed prior to the flight home from Cancun.

Sunwing says the survey is done as part of its flight planning to calculate average passenger weights.

“When you’re doing flight planning – what we call weight and balance – at an airline, there are two choices you have when you’re looking at passenger weights,” explains Mark Williams, President of Sunwing Airlines.

“Obviously, we don’t weigh the passengers, but we need to get a good estimation of passenger weights in order to safely plan the flights.”

“You can use passenger weights that are given to you by Transport Canada based on their estimates of passenger weights, or you can do a survey of your own, and calculate the weights based on a survey of your own specific passengers,” adds Williams.

“We’ve chosen the second option, which means we have to occasionally do random surveys of passenger weights to come up with average weights that we use for weight and balance planning.”

Officials say 105 flights were randomly selected, and about 10,000 passengers were part of the survey, conducted between November and May.

Sunwing says the survey was voluntary and travelers were given a letter explaining the process  (Read the letter below).  However, Marshall says she did not receive a letter.

Williams adds that other airlines also conduct similar surveys.

“Not every airline would necessarily do weight of passenger surveys if they chose to use Transport Canada’s weights, and I don’t want to speak for other airlines, but I do know other airlines in Canada have done these weight surveys in the past.”

In a statement to Global News, Transport Canada explains:

“The overall weight of the aircraft is calculated based on a number of factors, including the weight of the aircraft, the fuel, the passengers, the luggage and any cargo onboard. Operators calculate passenger weight using a matrix of standard weights, based on gender and age range of the passenger.

“However, operators are required to confirm, every few years, that the standard weights are representative of the normal passenger loads they carry.  Surveys are not mandatory, but they are one of the tools air operators can use to meet this requirement.”

Sunwing Survey Explanation Letter

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