Anyway, on the flight out of Milwaukee, shortly after everyone was aboard, the flight attendant got on the speaker and said that they had a "weight and balance issue" and they needed someone to volunteer to move from one of the first four rows back to the rear of the plane. I was in seat 3A, from where I'd just taken this picture:
But the experience made me wonder about "weight and balance issues." On the schedule I'd printed out for my flight, it said that there were occasional delays on the flight from Charlotte to Milwaukee. Was it because no one volunteered to change seats? What would they do if no one volunteered?
So, when I got home I did some research. It turns out that "weight and balance issues" are fairly common on smaller airplanes. And they are particularly common on the CRJ-200. Here's a picture I took of the Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) aircraft shortly after I'd gotten off in Charlotte:
HERE which calls it a "Barbie Jet" and says that there are also other names for it: Satan’s Chariot, Climb Restricted Jet, Mini Lawn Dart, the Flying Bus, and Future Beer Can. The person writing that article tells of being asked to move from seat 2D to 12D for "weight and balance purposes."
Personally, I had absolutely no problem with the aircraft or the flight. I just thought the "weight and balance issue" was interesting. And I wondered what would happen if no one volunteered. But, further research indicates that it might be more common for the flight attendant to TELL someone they need to move to the rear for "weight and balance purposes." The instruction carries the weight of law, since the flight attendant is an acting agent of the captain.
I found a blog HERE where 37 passengers were asked to get off the plane in England because someone had accidentally put too much fuel in the tanks. I found a BBC News article HERE where 71 passengers on another flight from England refused to stay on board because of "weight and balance" issues and demanded to get off the plane. Apparently it was because a cargo door was jammed and they couldn't use that space for luggage, so it created a "weight and balance issue." It doesn't say how many were asked to move, only that 71 got off.
A blog HERE says:
The CRJ-200 can be a pain when it comes to weight and balance. It is usually no big deal where the people are seated when it is under about 40 passengers. It's only when it is nearly full that you often have to make sure the empty seats are toward the front.and
RJs can be VERY sensitive to W&B issues. Part of the issue is that each person in this example is 2% of the theoretical total pax weight load, instead of say .5% on a 200-pax plane. So yes that's definitely an issue for small planes.I could only find one place on the Internet where someone refused to change seats. Click HERE:
Aircraft less than half full. Me sitting over wing in an aisle seat, vacant middle seat and a person at the window.I haven't found anything in that blog which explains exactly what happened when the guy refused. I assume that someone else simply volunteered. The passenger says that the Flight Attendant just went about his/her business as if nothing had happened. But, it's interesting that the guy felt it was some kind of demeaning request and that it was beneath him to submit to such a request.
Just before take off, a female cabin crew approaches me and states
"I am sorry sir, but due to weight and balance reasons, you will need to move three rows back"
What the is this about... seriously. If an 80kg person moving 3 metres is so critical to the W&B of a 400+ton aircraft, then we are all in trouble. Hopefully no-one leaves their seat during the flight.
Unfortunately, the request was so stupid, that I politely refused, told her I was comfortable where I was and asked her to explain her why.
Just a thought.... if you treat passengers like idiots... they might just take offence and become uncooperative.
Could someone shed some light on this ridiculous request. Is it used often for some reason? Why would the request be made... keeping in mind the aircraft was less than half full... and CC are not Load Controllers.
For what it's worth, there were no "weight and balance issues" on the much smaller planes I took from Charlotte to Lynchburg and back again. Here's a photo of one of those planes (a Dash 8-300) at the airport in Lynchburg, VA:
And now I think I know all that I need to know about "weight and balance issues." It's "normal," particularly on the CRJ-200, and most of the time people just volunteer. But it was relatively new to me. The time I encountered the issue when I was in the Caribbean, I thought it was because of the heat and the air being too thin or something. But, it was probably just a "weight and balance issue" there, too.