Smooth flying: No closings and no weigh-ins

A recent FAA directive that sent shudders through weight-conscious passengers appears to have left Charlottesville unscathed in the crucial arena of passenger vanity.

Although the FAA announced in January that airlines flying planes with 10 to 19 seats must begin weighing passengers and their bags, the three commercial airlines serving the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport say they're unaffected by the order. And airport director Bryan Elliott confirms that no weigh-ins have occurred.

That's good news for this area's small local airport as well as some of its more weight-conscious passengers.

"No one, but no one, gets to see those three magic numbers on my illuminated scale dial," says one Albemarle woman, who spoke on condition of confidentiality. The woman feared that the local airport's reliance on "puddle-jumpers" meant she'd have to drive to Dulles to avoid the weight watchers.

No official cause of the January 8 crash of a twin-engine commuter plane in Charlotte, North Carolina has yet been determined. The crash killed 19, and the National Transportation Board has said the fully loaded Beech was within 100 pounds of its maximum allowable weight.


In other airplane news, Elliott notes that the while the recent snowfall delayed and canceled many local flights, the airport never actually closed. "Our crews worked 72 hours straight to keep the airport safe and operational," he says, adding that schedules got back to normal on the afternoon of Monday, February 17.

[For the future of air transport, see the essay on page 47.]