Let’s start the week off with a riddle. Why were 19 passengers bumped off a flight after boarding when none of them did anything wrong…nor did the airline?
19 Passengers Bumped. AFTER Flight Had Already Boarded!
We often see passengers bumped due to oversell situations (more seats sold than are available onboard). Sometimes we see passengers bumped when there is reason to believe they are intoxicated. But that is the not the only reason passengers may get bumped…
On an EasyJet Airbus A320 flight from César Manrique-Lanzarote Airport (ACE) in Spain to Liverpool (LIV), not one, not two, but 19 passengers were bumped. But why?
There were four factors at play:
- Heavy aircraft
- Short runway
- Excessive heat
- Windy conditions
But in short, the plane was too heavy, despite not being full.
To incentivize volunteers and avoid the unsavory process of removing people against their, EasyJet offered passengers 500EUR each to remain overnight and fly to England the following the day.
The incentive worked: 19 volunteers were found.
I appreciate the way the captain of the flight kept passengers informed. A passenger recorded how the captain explained the situation. While it is a tad scary to consider a plane that may have been too heavy to take off (imagine if they had proceeded anyway and the plane was unable to lift off…), I appreciate how clearly the issue was explained, which no doubt encouraged volunteers.
“Because there are so many of you, it’s a pretty heavy aircraft we’ve got today. That heavy aircraft, combined with a fairly short runway here in Lanzarote and some winds which aren’t completely favorable at the moment, mean that with the current environmental conditions here in Lanzarote, the aircraft is too heavy at the moment to depart.
“Now, I’ve been sat with Tom, my senior first officer in the flight deck,” he said. “We’re very experienced with this. We’ve done this before. We’ve been doing our very best to make an attempt as safely–obviously with safety our number one priority–safely as possible.
“There’s no way with the current wind conditions, the environmental conditions here in Lanzarote, that we can make this aircraft get airborne at the moment. As I say, a combination of factors, it’s very hot, that doesn’t help, the wind isn’t fantastic, the direction’s not great, that’s not helping either.
“If possible, I’d like to ask for up to potentially 20 volunteers to choose not to fly to Liverpool tonight. If anybody does want to do that, if anybody does want to volunteer, there will of course be an incentive for you to do that.”
The flight eventually departed nearly two hours late with 19 fewer passengers than had originally boarded.
EasyJet paid 500EUR each (plus meals and accommodations) to 19 passengers to voluntarily bump themselves from flight U23364 and travel the next day due to Liverpool to unsavory weather conditions in Lanzarote that made takeoff with a full load too dangerous.
This is not the first such occurrence, suggesting EasyJet may want to sell fewer seats on this flight to avoid having to bump so many people.
image: Lanzarote Airport Spotters Froup / Facebook