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Asking passengers to move for balancing?

Buckinghamshire...
Level Contributor
3,548 posts
164 reviews
Asking passengers to move for balancing?

So we were on a ryan air flight which was almost full. As we were waiting for take off the crew on the over head speaker ask for 2 passengers to volunteer from rows 1 to 5 to move to the back of the plane for balancing purposes.

Took a while but eventually only one person agreed. A woman maybe slim/petite 8.5 stones. She moves. No one else gets on the plane either. No one else moves and we take off.

Surely that one person cannot affect balancing? There were maybe 3 spare seats near the back prior to her moving.

Any ideas?

27 replies to this topic
Loughborough...
Level Contributor
6,223 posts
34 reviews
1. Re: Asking passengers to move for balancing?

All airlines may have to ask passengers to move to adjust the balance in some circumstances. The smaller the aircraft the more likely it is to happen. Ryanair's Boeing 737-800s aren't small in aircraft terms though, and of all the airlines I've flown with, I've only ever seen what you describe happen on 737/A320 sized planes with Ryanair in Europe.

One thing that occurs to me - Ryanair, almost uniquely amongst 737-800 operators, has their planes delivered fitted with built-in folding stairs at the front entrance. This must increase the weight at the front of the plane compared to "standard" 737s or A320s, so there is more need to provide counterbalancing passenger weight at the back.

Since they don't weigh each passenger at boarding in Europe, a formula is used which assigns a standard weight to adult passengers. Because of this I suspect that moving one or two passengers from front to back on a nearly full 737 sized plane is really a box ticking exercise, but is required by the safety regulators. At least this proves that Ryanair captains take safety seriously.

Liverpool, United...
Level Contributor
2,125 posts
2. Re: Asking passengers to move for balancing?

Well, if this is box-ticking, Ryanair's 'random' allocation of seats is going to untick that box with a vengeance. If there are empty seats half the passengers end up sitting somewhere other than their allocated seats.

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
2,986 posts
213 reviews
3. Re: Asking passengers to move for balancing?

I was on a flight from ORF to ATL and they asked for 5 passengers to volunteer for an alternative flight. Suited me to do so as I would have missed my connection in ATL due to the first flight being delayed.

New South Wales...
Destination Expert
for Moab
Level Contributor
3,590 posts
56 reviews
4. Re: Asking passengers to move for balancing?

Earlier this year we were on a United (Skywest) CRJ200 and we were moved from our pre selected exit row seats to the back of the plane for balancing. Then the people up front were put in the exit rows. Rude.

Bangkok, Thailand
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
Level Contributor
15,847 posts
71 reviews
5. Re: Asking passengers to move for balancing?

Hi,

Yes... it can... but, as noted, airlines don’t use (or know) any one passengers exact weight, but use a formula that looks at the average across all their passengers based on a survey sampling. They do the same for a carry on bag— one carry on is consisdeted to be X kilos and may not reflect the actual weight of THAT one bag in question— but given the large survey size carriers do to get that average weight figure, it tends to be pretty accurate.

Do remember that it’s not just passengers you see that impact weight and balance - it is also cargo and bags and anything carried below deck that also factors into the formula.

So you could have a case where the forward cargo hold is loaded very heavy - but the rear isn’t as heavy, but by volume, is full.. so you can’t really shift cargo or bag weight aft... .. now, it’s possible you may need to shift some of the passenger weight to aft to equal what the W&B calculations say are the acceptable weight distribution.

Travel Safe,

Buckinghamshire...
Level Contributor
3,548 posts
164 reviews
6. Re: Asking passengers to move for balancing?

Thanks for responses. I get moving passengers for balancing but seemed odd just moving a small pax on an almost full plane.

South Jersey
Level Contributor
3,792 posts
68 reviews
7. Re: Asking passengers to move for balancing?

We saw a passenger get removed from a commuter sized plane returning home from Mardi Gras. This was just before US airlines started charging for checked bags and we checked a heavy vinyl bead bag home. I saw at least one other bead bag come up the conveyor to the hold and would bet that beads cost the poor guy his seat.

Florida - Alaska...
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Province
Level Contributor
8,055 posts
2 reviews
8. Re: Asking passengers to move for balancing?

"Ryanair's 'random' allocation of seats is going to untick that box with a vengeance" ... Is Ryan Air randomly assigning seats or are they distributing the passengers in regard to load balance and it appears random to you?

Liverpool, United...
Level Contributor
2,125 posts
9. Re: Asking passengers to move for balancing?

I suppose it's possible that Ryanair's seat allocation process is actually a sophisticated algorithm intended to ensure that the plane is in perfect balance however many people are on board. The problem is that with people travelling together scattered all over the plane, the boarding process degenerates into a horse-trading exercise, made considerably easier and therefore more extensive if there are empty seats. By the time the plane takes off the seats that are empty bear little relationship to those on the original seating plan.

Liverpool, United...
Level Contributor
2,125 posts
10. Re: Asking passengers to move for balancing?

It's a long time since I tried these sort of sums and I could well have got them wrong, but if the plane weighs about 70,000 kilos and a 50 kilo passenger is moved from the front to the back I think the centre of gravity moves back about one inch.

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