Payload is what a vehicle carries. If you have a plane with a payload of one ton, then that plane can carry one ton (including you and the snacks you may bring aboard).

Often, payload is estimated to be everything on board a vehicle that's worth money, or that produces income for the vehicle's owner. In the case of a commercial jet, that might be all the paying passengers. In other cases, a truck, ship, or plane's payload includes every single person and item on board, including the flight crew and fuel. From about 1936, payload frequently referred to bombs carried by a military plane or missile.

Definitions of payload
  1. noun
    goods carried by a large vehicle
    synonyms: cargo, consignment, freight, lading, load, loading, shipment
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    type of:
    merchandise, product, ware
    commodities offered for sale
  2. noun
    the front part of a guided missile or rocket or torpedo that carries the nuclear or explosive charge or the chemical or biological agents
    synonyms: load, warhead
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    atomic warhead, nuclear warhead, nuke, thermonuclear warhead
    the warhead of a missile designed to deliver an atom bomb
    type of:
    a chemical substance that undergoes a rapid chemical change (with the production of gas) on being heated or struck
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