Airline books extra flight for sumo wrestlers over weight concerns

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By Dan Sears

They joined the mile-high chub.

Japan Airlines had to schedule an extra flight over concerns that a group of sumo wrestlers exceeded the weight limit for two planes.

“It is extremely unusual for us to operate special flights due to the weight restrictions on this aircraft,” an airline representative told local outlet Minami-Nippon Shimbun, per The Guardian.

The nightmare at 30,000 pounds occurred when the titanic tusslers were slated to fly from Tokyo and Osaka to attend the Special National Sports Festival on Amami Ōshima Island, Japan News reported.

However, after calculating that the sumo wrestlers weighed a whopping 264.55 pounds on average — 100 pounds more than the typical passenger, per Japan Airlines — travel authorities grew concerned that the two Boeing 737-800s wouldn’t be able to carry the requisite amount of fuel due to weight restrictions.

Moreover, Amami Airport is known to be difficult both to arrive at and depart from, especially for large aircraft.

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The sumo wrestlers weighed around 265 pounds, around 100 pounds more than the average passenger.
AFP via Getty Images

In order to ensure the proper weight distribution, the airline decided to book an additional flight for 27 members of the sumo crew at the last minute.

Fourteen of them had to fly from Osaka to Tokyo first to board this special flight.

Like super-sized swallows returning to Capistrano, a whopping 460 sumo wrestlers descended on the island to attend the bash.

“It is extremely unusual for us to operate special flights due to the weight restrictions on this aircraft,” an airline representative said.

Passenger weight has been a point of contention in the friendly skies of late.

A video sparked outrage in May by showing a passenger being weighed before takeoff as if she was luggage, following confusion about her weight.

In 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that airlines could soon require plus-sized passengers to step on the scale — or provide their weight — before boarding the aircraft.

The goal was to provide new data on average passenger weights as the current numbers reportedly don’t reflect today’s sky-high obesity rates in the US.

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In turn, this would help ensure that aircrafts, especially the small ones, don’t exceed their allowable weight limit.

Airline authorities were also concerned that the airport would not be able to accommodate the large aircraft.
AFP via Getty Images

Once they’ve chosen a traveler, an operator may “determine the actual weight of passengers” by having them step “on a scale before boarding the aircraft,” per the guidelines reported by AirInsight.

However, the regulatory agency backpedaled a month later, claiming that while weighing passengers was an option, most airlines would resort to other measures of calculating passenger mass.

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