Key Points:

  • The weighing process will be conducted for domestic passengers at Gimpo International Airport between Aug. 28 and Sept. 6, and for international passengers at Incheon International Airport from Sept. 8 to Sept. 19.

  • Data from the weighing will be anonymous and used to enhance safety measures; however, passengers can opt out.

  • As of the first half of 2023, unused mileage points from Korean Air and Asiana Airlines have risen by 17.4% compared to 2019, reaching 3.4 trillion won ($2.5 billion).

New procedure aim to optimize fuel consumption and save costs

SEOUL — Korean Air, in line with aviation regulations, has revealed plans to measure the weight of passengers and their accompanying carry-on items during the boarding process. These weight checks are scheduled to be in place for domestic travelers at Gimpo International Airport from Aug. 28 to Sept. 6 and international fliers at Incheon International Airport between Sept. 8 and Sept. 19.

While the collected weight data will remain confidential and serve primarily safety and operational purposes, Korean Air assures passengers of their option to decline participation by notifying the airline staff.

The move is supported by weight standards derived from a 2017 local survey, which established an 81 kg benchmark for adult males and 69 kg for females. However, these metrics slightly deviate from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's guidelines, which propose 88.4 kg for males and 70.3 kg for females.

This strategy aims to optimize aircraft fuel usage. By precisely determining passenger weight, airlines can significantly cut down on extra fuel consumption, potentially yielding annual savings to the tune of $1 billion. Furthermore, airlines, as stipulated by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport's guidelines, are required to ascertain standard passenger weights at a minimum five-year interval and compute the average figures for weight-related considerations.

Several airlines worldwide, including Hawaiian Airlines and Finnair, implement a similar weighing strategy. Notably, T'way Air and Jeju Air, domestic carriers in Korea, have previously undertaken weight evaluations back in 2018.

As a related development, recent statistics unveil that Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, Korea's leading air transporters, witnessed a significant surge in unredeemed mileage points, amassing to 3.4 trillion won ($2.5 billion) during the initial half of 2023. This escalation, marking a 17.4% increase from 2019 statistics, stems from international travel disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting the extension of mileage expiration dates. 

Breakdowns reveal Korean Air's contribution as 2.4 trillion won, with Asiana Airlines accounting for 942 billion won. To aid consumers during the pandemic, the government orchestrated the extension of mileage validity, effectively extending it by up to 30 months.