Passengers Forced To Sit On Floor Of Plane Because Seats Had Been Removed

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Well this is a weird one.

Occasionally when I fly I see two passengers issued boarding passes for the same seat. There’s an awkward discussion between the two passengers (who are equally confused as to why and how this happened), and then the crew will try and find one of the passengers another, comparable seat.

But what about if you boarded a plane, arrived at your row and discovered that the seats didn’t exist?

A British family was traveling on TUIfly home from the Spanish island of Menorca last summer. Although media reports don’t say exactly which airport they flew into, as they are reported as being from Warwickshire, I assume they flew into the nearby Birmingham Airport, which TUI flies to from Menorca Mahon Airport seasonally over summer.

The family (two adults and their 10 year old daughter) was issued with boarding passes for seats 41 D, E and F.

The problem?

There were no D, E or F seats installed in that row, only an empty space where the seats should have been.

There was only one spare seat on the plane, which the child was reseated in. The parents were told to use jump seats for take off and landing.

During the flight, as the crew needed the space in the galley to conduct meal and duty free services, the family was told to sit on the floor in the back row, in the space where their seats should have been.

Passengers sitting on floor of TUIfly flight. Source: Daily Telegraph

So how did this happen?

TUI has apologised to the family (and handsomely compensated them for their inconvenience after they went to the press — much more than the cost of the flight), and said that a last minute aircraft swap caused the error.

Now a bit of detective work suggests the plane that operated their flight would have been operated by a Boeing 757, rather than the expected Boeing 737, as TUIfly’s 737s do not have 41 rows.

TUI Boeing 757 seat map
TUI 737 seat map

This 757 plane should have a row 41, being the last row of the aircraft, but for some reason three of the seats in this row had been ripped out, and I suspect this oddity was not recorded by the airline when substituting it in for this flight.

Hence why they were issued boarding passes for row 41 seats when these seats didn’t physically exist.

Bottom line

What an odd situation, to arrive at your row and just see an empty space where your seats are supposed to be. I’ve flown TUI before and the floors of their aircraft are not where I would want to spend a flight sitting on, even if it were a short flight.

It’s pretty crazy to think an airline could substitute a plane in for a particular flight without properly knowing which seats the aircraft had.

Have you ever been issued the wrong seat for a flight? (I’m expecting a lot of ‘yes, it was a coach seat!’)

(Featured image courtesy of Andy)

  1. Was recently standby on AA and was walked down to the plane by the gate agent so he could check to see if a seat was available. After he and the flight attendant told me to take the seat and I was at row 13, the gate agent told me to turn around. They had double booked a different seat and gave one of those gentlemen my seat.

    AA refused denied boarding compensation and the customer service manager said if I’m standby I can be involuntarily booted after boarding (which is against the CoC). I watch the video I took of the CSM spewing nonsense every now and again for a good chuckle.

  2. It’s just insanely incompetent that the airline let this get to the media. If this is how they run PR it makes me question the whole operation. It’s like seeing a cockroach run out of the kitchen at a fine dining establishment. Hard pass on this airline.

  3. James,

    Wait a minute, the airline allowed passengers to fly knowing that there were no seat belts for them since they would be sitting on the floor? I feel terrible for the family and I hope the EU fines TUI for numerous safety violations.

  4. ” I’ve flown TUI before and the floors or their aircraft are not where I would want to spend a flight sitting on, even if it were a short flight.” The entire situation is terrible for the family and ridiculous for the airline. However, I find interesting your comment about not sitting on the floor of a TUI plane as I assume you are referring to the floor been disgusting. Well, imagine how I felt when I flew on EasyJet from England to Spain and I was seated on first row in front of the bathroom. I was shocked and disgusted that not one passenger, not two passengers but almost all the women on the plane walked barefoot into the airplane bathroom during flight. I cannot imagine a place more disgusting on a plane than the floor of a bathroom mid to end of a flight.

  5. It should be noted that TUI’s initial response was to offer them £30. The offer only became anything less than desultory after the incident came to the attention of the media.

  6. Some of you are over-reacting. I flew in jump seats a couple of times, once Trans-Atlantic, back when I worked for an airline. I wasn’t cockpit or cabin crew, and it was considered safe. So that’s not a huge problem

    People sitting on the floor is, however, even if they are not in the way. What happens if you hit turbulence? But a jump seat is as safe as a regular seat – just less comfortable.

  7. This situation with literally, no seat, is inexcusable and worse, putting a passenger on the floor is probably in violation of several safety regulations.

  8. This:

    > And where did the FA’s sit during take off and landing?

    The passengers were given jump seats during takeoff and landing. Oh kay…

    Those seats are usually occupied during takeoff and landing by the flight attendants. So where were they during takeoff and landing?

    One some aircraft there’a a jumpseat up in the cockpit. Don’t know if that was the case on this one. Even if so, then that’s ONE place for a FA to move to.But the story says there were two more passengers than available seats, so where did the second FA hide? On someone’s lap? Standing in the cockpit? Sitting on the loo? The only other place that might seem an option would be if there is a crew rest compartment (also unoccupied). Those are common (and pretty comfy) on large, longhaul aircraft, but I don’t believe such a thing exists on the aircraft in question.

    Bad PR aside, there’s a clear violation of regulations here. Consequences?

  9. Breach of aviation regulations, as not only did they have no seat belts but no oxygen masks. Passengers have to be seated with access to O2
    If there are no jump seats throughout the journey then they should have been denied boarding , compensated and rebooked on alternate flights
    As far as I am aware, this is the first time I’ve ever read of a Europen carrier doing this

  10. @Icarus: No seat belts, yes. No oxygen masks? Really? Not having seats has nothing to do with oxygen masks. Unless they removed the ceiling of the plane the masks should be there and would be released in case of an emergency. Not saying it was appropriate but masks should be available if needed. Although I find the entire situation bizarre and the airline should be punished I am not that sympathetic with the passengers. Why would they take the option to travel sitting on the floor of an airplane with no seats? It was not a 30 minute flight. I would be very mad with the airline and would not be happy to miss the flight but I would never take the option to travel on the floor. So they did take the flight, took pictures and then went to the media? Not sure why but I feel they accepted the airline offer with the intent to go to the media and get their story on the news.

  11. @Pepe – I’d suggest the seat shown in the photo was empty because the passenger was in the bathroom …

  12. @Pepe – that might have been the kids seat, and he decided to join his parents on the floor during the flight. Another person that (shock horror) decided to get up for whatever reason

    @Pepe – Not all jump seats are used.

  13. Unbelievable!!! That’s taking “Basic Economy” to a new low.

    My wife was denied her pre-paid “Big Front Seat” on Spirit because the seat belt latch was missing in 1-A.

  14. There’s another word for those seated on the floor: Projectiles. 160+ pounds of meat being flung uncontrollably about the cabin at pre-incident speeds, with limbs flailing all the while. Yeah, let’s do that, shall we?

    How in hell did the pilot in command sign off on such a ridiculous thing and keep his or her job? And if the flight deck was never notified, the FA in charge needs to not just be fired, but prosecuted under whatever applicable EU regulations that were violated. It was only by good luck, benign weather, and the airplane functioning properly that this didn’t turn into something gruesome.

    Having first attained my private pilot’s license in the 1990s, I’m acutely aware of safety procedures, and I treat anything not nominal to be a perfectly good reason to cancel a flight, abort a takeoff, perform a go-around, etc. In a perfect world, the airline would be placed on some form of probation with intense oversight to make sure the letter of the law and regulations are followed.

  15. Rick,

    I’ve seen pax demoted from F and J as well, when there is a change of equipment, so don’t be so smug 🙂

  16. Tom,

    I don’t fly United or Delta these days. Hell, I don’t fly any US flag carrier these days. I’m retired and only fly to Asia with Singapore, Cathay, JAL, and Emirates, where I’m treated like a human and not a bag of peanuts. If there is any reason that I would need to get to the east coast, I would drive for five or six days before flying 🙂

  17. Just tell customers they are buying a “space” rather than a “seat” when you travel with their airline. Problem solved.

  18. I’d have no problem using a jump seat. If anything, the rear-facing ones are the safest seats on the aircraft. BUT…no seats for the rest of the flight? Absolutely outrageous.

    Where are the regulators? And why is this flight crew (and pilots) still flying? There’s a lot of overly-cautious parts of the regulations, but seat belts & seats aren’t optional in any stretch of the imagination, even for bush flying in Alaska.

    TUIFly does fly to the USA (MIA). I wonder what the FAA will think of this.

  19. If they had jumpseats for takeoff and landing then they could have sat in them the whole flight. FA shouldn’t have encouraged them to move the the floor during the flight but saying they were forced is a bit of a stretch.

    Still, I bet Michael O’Leary is following this one closely…

  20. To be fair they did have the option to be put on another flight or travel on a that flight in a crew jump seat. If the passengers would have chosen to go on another flight then it wouldn’t have made headline news- they were given however another option which could of worked better for them which they chose and i’d imagine they weren’t given the option to travel in the jump seat at first but rather after complaining etc about being bumped or needed to get home in time for something they would have probably been given the option to travel on SPARE crew jump seats.
    As far as crew jump seats go I’ve had a friend who was once in the exact same situation- same airline, same plane however it was a flight back from Cape Verde. He was given the same options and decided to take the crew jump seat because he needed tube back home for something. Once onboard and after takeoff he took it up on himself to move to some spare space on the floor next to the exit (Door 2L on 757), because the jump seat was “small and uncomfortable”. This is, as far as I’m aware, a safe thing to do bearing in mind that facing backwards on a plane is more safe than facing forward. As for those people who are asking where the crew were sitting- I believe TUI 757s have 8 crew jump seats and they usually staff their 757s with 5 crew members- therefore leaving 3 SPARE jump seats. Overall, this is an unfortunate story but it was a completely safe thing to do and the family could have just chosen to go on the flight the next day, get compensation under EU law and get a free night in Menorca- TBH at least they were given the option if they had to get home for something.

  21. Hopefully AA doesn’t get word of this. They’ll introduce this type of basic economy and the old will become basic plus.

    Shit why not just put seats on the wings.

  22. Don’t know if it has been already said, but this is an excellent way for the airlines to handle all those “overbooking” problems. Just throw ’em anywhere.

  23. The seatbelt issue is worrying, but how cool is it to sit in a jump seat for takeoff and landing? 🙂

    I once had a seating issue on Pegasus, a Turkish LCC. Upon scanning our boarding passes, the system gave an error and we’d have to step aside and wait. The agent said there was a ‘problem with our seats’ (14E, 14F). Once everyone has boarded, we were finally issued new boarding passes for seats 34E, 34F. As we walked through the aisle, it turned out that the ‘issue’ with row 14 was that there was no row 14. The aircraft got swapped out last-minute from a 737 to an A320neo, which doesn’t have rows 12-15 at all (so that exit row alignment is maintained throughout the fleet). We ended up sitting in a windowless row in the very back, but at least it wasn’t on the floor.

    Oh and those Seatguru screenshots are much funnier if you imagine that those red seats in row 41 are red because they’re missing 🙂

  24. I was in an exit row aisle ??row 26 when a woman came down the aisle but her boarding pass in my face and said loudly”you are in my seat” i said here is my BP says 23 also she got very upset and loud..The FA took our BP’s and left the plane returned with 1A for me and 23 for her!! nice tri LAS to ATL

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