Climate change is real. Climate change is here. And according to recent reports, we have just under 12 years to reign in our collective carbon footprint. Which includes not just overhauling massive public infrastructure and reliance on fossil fuels, but also individual changes — including spending our money where our collective mouth is.
So a start-up promising to reduce the carbon footprint of flying sounds like a no-brainer, right? The catch: British company Fuel Matrix has proposed saving on carbon emissions by… weighing passengers.
CEO Roy Fuscone and COO Nick Brasier were interviewed by Lonely Planet and The Independent, respectively, about their concept. Passengers would stand on a pressure pad — either at the baggage self-check kiosks or in the full-body scanner — which would weigh them “discreetly” and send the information to both dispatch and the pilot, so they might accurately calculate the amount of fuel needed for a particular flight. The data would then be destroyed upon landing.
Fuscone told Lonely Planet, “It’s critical to know the actual weight an airline is carrying to ensure the correct fuel uplift.”
Brasier told The Independent that “airlines currently load about one percent more than they need, and consequently burn between 0.3 and 0.5 percent more fuel in carrying the unnecessary surplus.” He said that, worldwide, airlines could save upwards of £1 billion (approximately $1.3 billion), though no word on exactly how much using Fuel Matrix’s technology could cut emissions on the high-carbon footprint act of flying. Nor do Fuscone or Brasier mention consent in their respective interviews, which seems to infer that passengers would be weighed whether or not they wanted to.
Bodies and airlines have long been a sensitive subject and for good reason. Despite the fact that 39.8 percent of Americans now qualify as obese and 71.6 percent as overweight, many airlines’ attempts to squeeze as many seats into a cabin, often at the expense of any reasonable semblance of comfort, reflects the aviation industry’s lack of understanding in favor of profit. And between the airline policies for “passengers of size” — such as requiring payment of “same-day” rates for a required second seat — to the dehumanizing treatment larger passengers receive to extremely public humiliation for fat flyers (even famous ones like Kevin Smith), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a proposal to weigh every passenger before boarding would be met with raised eyebrows.
The good news, thus far, is that Fuel Matrix seems to be sensitive to these questions and their leadership team expresses a desire to get it right. If that bears out, this could be a legit game changer.