Japan’s flag carrier had to make last minute changes to deal with excess weight – not from baggage, but from a group of passengers who just so happened to be sumo wrestlers. Japan Airlines (JAL) realized that two of its planes were at risk of exceeding their weight limits carrying the wrestlers who were on their way to Amami Oshima, an island in the south, for a sports festival. Two groups of the 27 total athletes were supposed to take off on separate flights on October 12 – one from Haneda Airport (HND) in Tokyo and another from Itami Airport (ITM) in Osaka, with the latter being a much smaller, primarily domestic airport. The sumo wrestlers weighed an average of 120 kilograms (264 pounds) each – far more than the 70 kilogram (154 pounds) average passenger – an airline spokesperson told CNN, raising concerns over fuel capacity on the smaller aircraft that services flights within Japan. Since it would be difficult for larger planes to take off and land at the regional airport in Amami (ASJ), the flagship carrier decided to transfer 14 of the wrestlers and have them depart from Haneda airport, closer to the Tokyo metropolis. But it was still a tight squeeze on the way back from the sumo festival. Three high school sumo wrestlers, weighing 140, 130 and 110 kilograms (308, 268 and 242 pounds) respectively, told CNN affiliate TV Asahi that they all sat next to each other on the flight back to Haneda from Fukuoka on October 15. “I think the middle seat was the toughest,” said one of the students, who were all from the mountainous Gunma prefecture.“I was joking about the possible weight concerns, but it actually turned into a problem. We had great support, although we are a little tired,” a representative for the Gunma wrestlers said in the TV Asahi report. There are no weight restrictions or classes in sumo wrestling, but the ancient Japanese sport has been dominated by bulkier athletes. Aspiring young wrestlers, some of whom begin the sport at the age of five, train in designated sumo stables, or beya, where they sleep, eat and practice together on a near daily basis. Travelers in Japan are not often asked to step on a scale before a flight, but many governmental airline regulators mandate the practice in order to gather data. Earlier this year, Korean Air weighed passengers and their baggage as part of regular safety checks. Air New Zealand also carried out a similar program with some of the customers flying its international routes, like the ultra-long-haul between Auckland and New York.