Everyone In First Class Was Sent to the Back of the Plane

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Ever had this happen on your flight?

I started a West Coast mileage run tonight, thankful that all my upgrades had cleared so I could be productive. Boarding had just completed and one of the flight attendants came to the front of the cabin to notify us that all First Class passengers would have to vacate their seats and move to the back because it was a light flight and they needed to balance the weight.

The (full) cabin sat there looking stupidly at her for a moment and the other flight attendant added “unfortunately she’s not kidding.”

I’d had to move on tiny CRJs before, but never on an A321 and it all seemed a little bizarre.

It was a light flight, but everyone in economy had picked the front seats, so though most of us were going to end up with rows to ourselves, we were still in the back of the plane. The flight attendants did take down our flight numbers, but it wasn’t clear if we were still going to be served dinner and what other perks would still be available to us.

Those who had paid for their tickets would be contacted by customer service, those who had used certs to upgrade would have them re-deposited. Those like me, who had complimentary upgrades, were probably out of luck.

A few minutes later the pilot came to the front of the plane to announce that there had been a mistake and cargo had been loaded in the front of the plane and the folks who handle the planning/weight distribution had decided to move First Class rather than the cargo to ensure an on-time departure. He (the pilot) had just made them move the cargo back and First Class could return to their original seats.

I am woefully ignorant of these things, so I have no idea if what we were told/I heard is common or even if it’s correct, but it definitely makes for a funny (to me) story about “that time I was kicked out of First Class.”

Other than our landing gear coming down 4 hours before we were due to land, I’ve pretty much avoided weird plane experiences. Unlike Jeanne, I’ve never had my plane hit with a truck. 🙂


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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel


  1. Noah

    January 12, 2015 at 12:19 am

    Unforunately, if it is a lightly loaded flight (pax and cargo) there is little that can be done other than moving people. The a321 has the same wing as the a319/a320 but is much longer, so it suffers from this problem. What makes it fuel efficient, makes it bad for balance.
    At one airline, I’ve heard that their a320s blanace in 2 sections, but the a321 takes 5.

  2. Jennifer

    January 12, 2015 at 1:13 am

    I had a related situation on AA this week – also from the west coast on a light load flight. They limited the number of passengers who could sit in first class (as well as the MCE section of the plane) due to weight and balance issues. There were a couple of angry elites but luckily my upgrade had cleared before they restricted the load.

  3. Gary Leff

    January 12, 2015 at 1:15 am

    I’d have just assumed that the flight attendants (quite reasonably) couldn’t tell the difference between US Airways first class and economy…

    • Jeanne

      January 13, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      @Gary: Or the difference between first class and cargo!

  4. NYBanker

    January 12, 2015 at 1:42 am

    Weight and balance is a very serious matter.

  5. RK

    January 12, 2015 at 2:30 am

    Weight and balance is a serious issue….
    But an airline that is too lazy to move cargo and rather moves their first class passengers should be ashamed of themselves… Thanks to the pilot to overrule it…

  6. Atif

    January 12, 2015 at 3:31 am

    Hmm… I’ve heard of issues like this before but it was always stated that the move was JUST for take off and landing and that during the flight you could take your original seat.

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