February 22, 2024

Excess baggage: Finnair shares gain as investors weigh new passenger policy

Finnair stock moved higher as it launched a voluntary weigh-in policy for passengers at Helsinki airport to better estimate cargo weight and fuel needs for airplanes.


Finland’s national carrier Finnair recently announced that it would be launching a three-month long study at the Helsinki airport, where passengers could voluntarily choose for their weight to be measured before boarding a flight.

According to a statement by the company, as reported by Sky News: “Finnair will collect data by weighing volunteering customers and their carry-on baggage at the departure gate. The weighing is voluntary and anonymous, and the data will only be used to optimise Finnair’s current aircraft balance and calculations.”

Finnair shares were up 2.3% on Thursday afternoon, potentially pointing towards investors welcoming the new policy as something which may help the airline save some costs.

Could Finnair’s new weigh-in study be a success?

Since the start of the study in Helsinki on Monday, the company has already gotten more than 600 volunteers. Several volunteers have also praised the initiative as being a strong move towards more safety and efficiency and have suggested that it should become the norm with every airline.

According to Statista, in 2021, commercial airlines worldwide used about 60 billion gallons of fuel annually. With fuel prices soaring in the last few years, due to the energy crisis following the Russia-Ukraine war, several airlines are now trying to be more cost and fuel-efficient.

This has led to other airlines such as United Airlines announcing a few years back that it would start to use sustainable and low-carbon jet fuel made out of trash, in an attempt to further decrease their carbon footprint. 

If this study is successful and Finnair manages to implement this policy long-term, it could potentially save the airline a considerable amount of money at a time when most European airlines are still struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels in terms of profits.

Finnair has also been facing increasing union strikes, which have forced the airline to cancel more than 500 flights recently. It is yet to be seen what impact this has on the airline’s profit margins this quarter.

Passenger privacy and discrimination concerns increase

However, several passengers were outraged at this new study, taking to social media platform X to voice concerns about the airline using passengers’ weight data to discriminate against them. There are also concerns about sensitive weight data being leaked.

Some passengers have also raised concerns about the effect of this kind of airline policy on people who suffer from eating disorders or other medical conditions. Although weighing in is voluntary at the moment, there are speculations about whether it might be implemented as a compulsory policy later on. Several more airlines could also follow suit.

In the last few years, more passengers have claimed to face discriminatory airline seat policies on flights. Some of these include being forced to buy two seats, instead of one, as well as some airplanes not having appropriate seat belt extenders available for those who need them.

Back in April 2023, as reported by CNN, this has led to travel influencer Jae’lynn Chaney launching a petition to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to require all airline companies to have holistic customer-of-size policies which take into account the well-being, dignity and comfort of all flyers.

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