Hawaiian Airlines has won the right to weigh people before they board their planes.
The airline will be able to weigh larger passengers over a six-month period to work out how to save fuel after discovering the average passenger and carry-on weight was heavier than expected.
It has now stopped pre-booked seating for the 2,600-mile route between Honolulu and the American Samoa, instead assigning seats to passengers when they arrive to ensure weight is evenly spread around the plane.
Earlier this month, the airline told Radio New Zealand that the expanding girth of the typical passenger means it is required to redistribute weight in its Boeing 767 cabins to meet the manufacturer’s guidelines. This means limiting the number of adults per row and reserving seats in certain rows for young children.
Some passengers have complained the move is discriminatory, as it only affects the journey between Honolulu and the American Samoa, and most passengers on that route are of Samoan descent.
According to the CIA’s World Factbook, Samoans have the highest rate of obesity in the world. A remarkable 74.6 per cent of its adult population are considered obese, it says, placing it above Nauru (71.1 per cent) and the Cook Islands (63.7 per cent). Those are figures for 2007 and 2008, however.
More recent estimates claim the obesity rate could now be as high as 94 per cent.