A photo posted on Twitter earlier today shows a passenger onboard an easyJet flight from Luton to Geneva sitting in a seat with no back. The photo has made waves online for a number of reasons, and it wasn’t anything to do with the upcoming easyJet strikes.
Flight U22051, an easyJet Airbus A319-111, was ready to set off from Luton airport earlier today just like any other flight. In fact, it did, landing in Geneva 11 minutes ahead of schedule.
But you’d be forgiven for your confusion over how U22051 was able to make the journey safely, given the photo posted to Twitter as passengers were boarding the flight.
As reported by One Mile at a Time, a passenger aboard the flight posted a photo of an occupied seat without a back. They also tagged easyJet themselves.
— Matthew Harris (@mattiasharris) August 6, 2019
After being shared, Matthew Harris’ tweet immediately gained traction, and shortly after was responded to by easyJet.
Modern aircraft can fly with only one engine, but having a passenger occupying a seat with a missing seat back is highly unsafe and thoroughly illegal. In this case that does not appear to be the main issue at hand.
EasyJet has a very good safety record, so the airline allowing a passenger to fly without a seat is hard to imagine.
Contrary to the situation shown in the original image, the woman who was at first allocated a half-dismantled seat was later moved to a spare elsewhere in the aircraft. This was confirmed by a second tweet by Matthew Harris.
That clears up the issue of the missing seat back but leaves the main point talking point of the situation unanswered.
Following the original tweet of the missing seat back, easyJet sent a reply to Matthew Harris asking him to remove the image. This became the main source of controversy surrounding the incident.
Hi Matthew, thanks for bringing this to our attention, before we can investigate this could I ask you to remove the photograph & then DM us more info regarding this, so we can best assist you. Ross https://t.co/Qq2zhBAizh
— easyJet (@easyJet) August 6, 2019
As expected, easyJet’s response was mainly aimed at damage limitation, as it’s not a good look to have a passenger sitting in a seat which is clearly unsafe. The way in which the response was worded led to many comments about easyJet’s handling of the situation at the time.
Rather than clearing up the situation or confirming that the passenger would be seated safely as soon as possible, easyJet’s priority was to ask the tweeter to remove the image. The way it was worded appeared to suggest that only then would the issue be investigated.
Many comments on Aeronews.ro’s post about the incident have pointed out that this was clearly a mix-up and that the woman would never actually be made to sit there.
This may be obvious to some, but in the heat of the moment, it may not be to a passenger who doesn’t fly regularly.
This also raises questions over why the seat was not reallocated before the passengers were boarded. If the flight actually turned out to be fully booked, would the woman have been asked to leave the flight and wait for an alternative?
A statement from easyJet confirms that the passenger was indeed not allocated this seat in the first place. A spokesperson said,
“No passengers were permitted to fly in these seats as they were inoperative awaiting repair. Safety is our highest priority and easyJet operates its fleet of aircraft in strict compliance with all safety guidelines.”
This generally confusing situation seems to have stemmed from a passenger temporarily sitting in an out of order seat, and someone else happening to catch a photo of it. Maybe in the future, issues like this will be a simple fix thanks to smart seating.