easyJet Airbus A319 Flies Without Seatbacks

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.

An easyJet A319-111 during takeoff
Seat rearrangements are common on commercial flights. Photo: Transport Pixels via Flickr

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.

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After being shared, Matthew Harris’ tweet immediately gained traction, and shortly after was responded to by easyJet.

Unsafe seating

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.

An easyJet Airbus A320
easyJet has an impressive safety record. Photo: Markus Eigenheer

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.

The controversy

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.

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.

An easyJet A319 interior
The interior of an easyJet A319. Photo: Adrian Pingstone

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.

6 comments
  1. This in a nutshell explains why I would sooner drink Drano than have a social media account. One moron (with perhaps an ax to grind) provides inaccurate/incomplete information, and millions of other morons lap up this vomit and regurgitate it.

  2. Regarding unsafe passenger seating, I am reminded of an occasion in March 1973 when I flew from Beirut to Tripoli with a stop in Benghazi on a Libyan Arab Airlines Boeing 720. When the plane left for Tripoli it developed a technical fault and we returned to Benghazi. Eventually they put on a replacement aircraft but it was only an F27 with not enough room for everyone. They invited two passengers to replace two of the cabin crew and I was asked to sit in the toilet!

    So much for “Safety is our highest priority”!

  3. I have enjoyed “Simple Flying” until this article. Simple Flying appears to have joined the sewer of tabloid reporting a very disappointing reality.

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