70 Year Old Man Forced to Stand Through British Airways Transatlantic Flight

The left hand side of a 70 year old man’s seat broke shortly after takeoff on a flight from London to Calgary.

The flight was completely full. They tried to prop the broken seat up with blankets, but it didn’t really work.

However, the blankets failed to provide a smooth, flat surface, leaving Mr McKay, from South Shields in Tyne and Wear, with pains in his back and pins and needles in his legs.

You’re Supposed to Stand During Boarding… Not Inflight

He sat in a crew seat for awhile, and did use his seat on and off, but stood for three and a half hours of the flight.

Flight crew offered him a bottle of whiskey, which he declined. He sought compensation from the airline which initially £20 towards a future flight. After pushback they eventually offered £100, and insist that’s their final offer.

According to BA, they’re done with the matter:

We work hard to provide the best possible experience for customers on our flights and we’re sorry that on this occasion we havent met our customers expectations.

‘Our customer relations team has apologised and offered a gesture of goodwill.’

There certainly would have been an issue at landing, but that’s true even if the flight diverted. In the event of turbulence, even seated, if the seat doesn’t provide the proper support that it’s certified for that’s a problem as well.

It seems to me that British Airways did not provide the product purchased, which is at a bare minimum a working seat, and thus ought to provide a full refund of the one-way ticket cost.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Are you kidding me? On a full flight not a single person volunteered to give up his/her seat? What has the world come to

  2. I’d love to know more detail on how the seat ‘broke’. The story seems odd… the cabin crew would not ‘look around’ for another seat… they know the count and therefore if there are any open seats.. however the 20GBP ‘compensation’ is an insult for a broken seat on a transatlantic flight. I’m with you on full fare refund. The seat is at minimum what we should be guaranteed.

  3. @ahmed a.: On a full trans-Atlantic flight, no one offered to give up their seat for 9 hours? Yeah, I can believe that!

    Two things I’m curious about:
    1. Was it full in PE, J, and F as well or did BA just not want to op-up him?
    2. How exactly does half of a Y seat break? It’s basically a cushion strapped to a metal frame built to survive a plane crash!

    The Daily Mail is not exactly known for rational, balanced reporting, so I’d want some more details before passing judgement.

  4. Would you give up your seat if it was a woman or would that be sexist? Should women even expect to be treated special? Why give up your seat for an old man? Age is a #.

    Better would be: he was disabled or Yada Yada Yada so someone should have given up their seats.

  5. BA should at least refund the OW ticket cost.
    Someone should have given up their seat.
    These seats do break, mine did in a flight from Kaliningrad to Moscow a few years back. Aisle seat broke on the aisle side (right). The back just flopped backwards with no support. Probably was not comfortable for the person behind me either. Airline gave me a full RT refund after we landed and spoke to their customer service.

  6. I was on the flight sitting two rows behind the gentleman. Actually a number of folks offered their seat to the guy but FAs forbid it because it was a safety issue of some kind. We all felt bad for the guy. They tried a couple of times to fix the seat with padding to no avail.

  7. A bizarre occurence, very strange that a seat rated to withstand higher G-forces would collapse under normal use, but yes, the pax would be due compensation of some kind.

    “It seems to me that British Airways did not provide the product purchased, which is at a bare minimum a working seat”

    Wouldn’t the bare product be transportation? Which he got, admittedly uncomfortably. I disagree on the full refund but agree he’s due something.

    I’m surprised there wasn’t an off duty employee who could be asked to switch to the crew seat. Or that someone didn’t volunteer their seat for him. I would have.

  8. BTW having worked in advertising I wouldn’t be surprised if the Daily Mail exaggerated the truth woefully in order to hold British Airways hostage to buy more advertising in their newspaper or face more nitpicky negative reporting……its so like that in the newspaper industry!! We need more info or another source reporting the same info to believe the accuracy.

  9. I had a similar experience last year on a full BA flight IAD to LHR in J. They landed me in the jump seat and the FA whose seat I took landed in a seat on the flight deck. Received a £500 flight credit as compensation.

  10. Appalling! First of all, the FAs should have offered the elderly passenger their own seats. On top of that, he had to ask about compensation instead of BA representatives waiting for him upon disembarking the plane with their sincere apologies and at least 5x his ticket price in compensation.

  11. @Lucy: Really? Why 5x? Why not 10x or 20x? He wasn’t “forced” to do anything. Giving him thousands of dollars in compensation is a bit unrealistic, no?

  12. @Arcanum: You’re right, nothing outrageous happened here. Whoops, seat’s broken on a transatlantic flight … wait, I have a solution! Yes, perfect, we’ll just have that old guy stand during the flight! Next bright idea from BA — when a flight is oversold, seat the extra passengers in the baggage compartment. I’m sure they will have your support.

  13. I would have just made my way to first class and laid down in the aisle outside the galley. They would have found me a place to sit.

  14. @Andy: It’s a broken seat. And he didn’t have to stand the whole time. He spent part of it in his seat, part of it in a jump seat, and part of it standing. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve compensation, just that Lucy’s suggested 5x the ticket price is extreme.

    Again, I refuse to believe any story from the Daily Mail without independent verification of the facts. DM’s less reliable that Fox News.

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