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From Cutting Limes to Cutting Life Vests: Weird Ways Planes Reduce Weight

From Cutting Limes to Cutting Life Vests: Weird Ways Planes Reduce Weight
Jennifer Billock

Planes are, by nature, heavy—what with the combined weight of the passengers, crew, fittings, and amenities, like food, drinks, magazines, and more. And that massive weight can get expensive, because every pound uses more fuel. Airlines have come up with some pretty unique ways to cut weight and save money.

Running an airline is a big, expensive business, with planes that use up to a gallon of gas every second. And the bigger the plane, the more gas it uses, and the more it costs. Airlines have tried all sorts of things to save money, but what seems to be the best route is simply cutting the weight on planes. Your Mileage May Vary took stock of all the crazy ways airlines have tried to cut weight and save themselves some cash.

American Airlines started using thinner paper for the airline’s magazine, which is expected to save about $417,000 every year from the one-ounce per magazine reduction in weight. Air Canada is removing some life vests on flights that go less than 50 miles offshore and is replacing them with lighter flotation devices. Japan Airlines stopped selling beer on domestic flights, shaving off 210 pounds per flight.

Delta is perhaps the cleverest; the airline is saving $500,000 per year because of how cabin crew cuts limes. Previously, they were cut into 10 wedges, and now they’re cut into 16—reducing the total amount of limes needed on board.

The industry as a whole is seeing weight-reduction changes as well. Most airlines are using lighter materials for seats and bathrooms, and some are cutting in-seat entertainment systems. Plus, pilots across the industry are now getting tablet-based manuals instead of paper ones—which can save about 80 pounds per flight.

View Comments (2)


  1. BJM

    November 9, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    If airlines want to reduce weight, why don’t they remove say 6 to 12 seats from the coach/economy section? At an estimated average of 250 pounds, that is for passenger/baggage and weight of the seat, that would reduce the aircraft weight approximately 3/4 to 1.5 tons. Imagine the cost savings of removing passengers compared to limes!

  2. tjw1212

    November 11, 2018 at 1:12 am

    If weight reduction is such an important cost saving factor, airlines flying between 2 low obesity countries (e.g. Japan and Korea) must have a huge economical advantage over airlines flying between 2 high obesity countries (e.g. the USA and Mexico). However, I assume there are no data available about average body mass of air line passengers.

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