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?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future