easyJet denies organising whip-round to pay passengers to leave overweight plane

Flight crew accused of arranging collection to compensate four volunteers who got off at Liverpool airport

There was more than the usual tension in the Liverpool departure lounge: easyJet’s morning flight to Geneva could not take off because it was too heavily loaded.

As passengers mentally weighed their fellow travellers, the airline had to explain that some of them would have to stay behind.

A spokeswoman for the airline said the payload included “an exceptionally high proportion of male passengers and more hold luggage than usual”.

Every aircraft type has strict rules about the total weight it can carry, depending on factors such as the length of the runway, the air temperature and the distance to be flown. To compute the weight limits, airlines have the option of weighing each passenger and their baggage. But British airlines instead use an estimate of how much each passenger weighs.

The rules issued by Europe’s Joint Aviation Authorities instruct the airlines to assume that each male passenger weighs 88kg, and each female 70kg (children of either gender score 35kg).

There were 135 men and only 19 women on board the easyJet plane at Liverpool. As a result, the estimated weight was more than one tonne higher than it would have been had the genders been balanced.

easyJet denied that passengers had to organise an impromptu whip-round before their ski flight could take off.

The airline’s spokeswoman said: “In these circumstances volunteers are required to offload and easyJet offers passengers £100 in compensation and alternative flights. Four volunteers came forward and the flight departed shortly afterwards.”

An account in the Liverpool Echo gives a rather different version of events. Quoting a passenger, Simon Lay, the newspaper says the airline’s offer proved insufficiently attractive. To resolve the stalemate, said Mr Lay, passengers organised a cash collection to double the reward: “I put two quid in. I saw other people throwing in fivers.” He said the unofficial bid to entice enough people to offload proved successful, and the aircraft departed for Switzerland soon afterwards.

But easyJet’s spokeswoman said: “As far as we can establish no other arrangements between passengers were made,” adding: “There is no need for passengers to take this kind of action.”

Weight issues can prove a headache for airlines. Some airlines have been known to remove catering trolleys in order to allow a plane safely to take off. Others have offloaded baggage, but this policy is expensive for the airlines to sort out, and infuriating for the passengers whose luggage is removed.

Unusually, easyJet has no maximum weight limit for cabin baggage. Ryanair imposes a maximum of 10kg per passenger.

The episode has led to calls for passengers to be weighed at check in along with their baggage. At present airlines pay close attention to the weight of checked-in baggage on flights, but not to the weight of passengers. “DaveyJ” tweeted: “This is why fat people should pay an extra charge on flights.” But airlines fear it would prove impractical and extremely unpopular.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her in Latakia
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report