IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Why this airline is asking customers to step on a scale before flying

Air New Zealand announced a voluntary, anonymous weight survey of passengers, taking place over the next month.
/ Source: TODAY

Airlines weigh everything from luggage to cargo to meals on board — and now Air New Zealand wants to weigh passengers on some international flights.

Air New Zealand announced the voluntary passenger weight survey on May 29, saying in a statement it is "essential to the safe and efficient operation of the aircraft."

"It's a regulatory requirement for us to know the weight of everything that goes on the aircraft and there’s a good reason for that," Air New Zealand Load Control Improvement Specialist Alastair James said on TODAY.

The survey is designed to calculate the average weight of passengers over the next month to help planes fly more efficiently while remaining balanced, Air New Zealand said.

James said in a statement Air New Zealand knows stepping on scales can be daunting and assured passengers the data will be fed directly into a computer and recorded anonymously along with thousands of other passengers.

"We want to reassure our customers there is no visible display anywhere. No one can see your weight — not even us! It’s completely anonymous,​" James said.

Still, some American passengers said on TODAY the idea of being weighed in public was not ideal.

"I think that’s a violation of privacy," one passenger said.

Another passenger added: "When I go to the doctor, I don’t even look at the scale, so I don’t want that out there in public."

TODAY's Hoda Kotb also said she was on the fence about how she felt about Air New Zealand's weight survey.

NBC News Aviation Expert John Cox said he thinks other airlines could utilize a weight survey in the future.

"It’s critically important for the safety of flight that you know how much the airplane weighs — it’s particularly certificated to perform in a given way at a given weight," Cox said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement to NBC News it's up to individual airlines based in the U.S. to determine how they want to comply with weight and balance regulations.

U.S. airlines have historically used medical industry data to calculate passenger weight, meaning they could later adopt a New Zealand weight survey model, but there's no indication any U.S. airlines are going to do so.

Air New Zealand said its survey is set to take place at the entrance to the gate lounge of some international flights departing from Auckland International Airport between May 29 and July 2.