Caught on Camera: The Moment JetBlue’s A321 Tipped Back at JFK

After JetBlue flight 662 from Bridgetown, Barbados arrived at New York JFK and parked at its gate, the Airbus A321 (registration N959JB) tipped back on its tail.

It appears to me that cargo was removed from the front of the aircraft first. Rear cargo was likely full and heavy.

Weight and balance issues matter on the ground, not just in the air, and a plane’s tail tipping backwards isn’t common but it’s not unheard of, either. Here’s a Delta 737 tipping about 9 years ago (HT: Andrew Brunk)

The 737-900 variant is especially susceptible to tipping backwards, and is why many of its operators use ‘tail stands’.

The stand can be extended or retracted by rotating the handles around, and it includes a pair of levels to make sure it’s aligned correctly. A compressed gas spring inside the pole helps keep the aircraft balanced. When fully compressed, the mechanism will prevent the tail from dropping too far. The stand weighs about 48 pounds and can be operated by one person. A rubber tip plugs into the aircraft in a designated spot where, typically, maintenance can use a jack to lift the plane.

This JetBlue aircraft is not currently scheduled to operate additional flights.

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, 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. I have been on A321 flights on foreign airlines where they deplane the last few rows first, alternate w/ the front of the aircraft, and then people in the middle of the plane are last off.
    Frustrating but it solves problems like this.

  2. Just on several LATAM flights using 320s and they had everybody wait while about 10 rows in the back got off first. I don’t think this with ever work in the US.

  3. We flew that flight 662 back from barbados on Oct 15 after waiting over 13hrs at barbados airport because flight 1662 was canceled 3hrs after it was to take off. This is such a joke of a system they run

  4. Joe Pilot: That was a smooth flight.
    Co-Pilot: Yeah, but sometimes a guy just wants to have fun.
    Joe Pilot: Ha, I can make this bird pop a wheelie if you want some fun.
    Co-Pilot: Yeah, right. Dream on, Big Daddy.
    Joe Pilot: Here, hold my beer.
    Co-Pilot: Beer? What are you doing with a beer?
    Joe Pilot: Do not worry, I sipped it slowly.
    Co-Pilot: WTF?
    Joe Pilot: Man, if these seats get any tighter, I will need a jar of lube to get in and out.
    Co-Pilot: Yeah. How is your diet going, anyway?
    Joe Pilot: Terrible. I went up to 382 pounds. I do not understand it.
    Co-Pilot: Big Daddy, you had two Whoppers sitting at the gate in Barbados. Then, you had three lunch trays. What do you expect?
    Joe Pilot: Whew! Free finally. I will be right back, OK?
    Co-Pilot: Where are you going?
    Joe Pilot: You wanted some fun; here comes the wheelie.
    [Joe Pilot steps off the aircraft.]
    Co-Pilot: Holy $#@%! [Sees the beer in his hand and throws it so nobody thinks it was his.]
    Joe Pilot: Ha! Just think how bad that would have been had that been a light beer.

  5. How is this catching “the moment” it happened? All I see are photo and video after the fact.

  6. It was a long flight and the plane decided to kick back, relax and wait for a beer. What’s wrong with that.

  7. Do they not use a nose tether on these aircraft? They’re putting a lot of faith in employees that don’t know/don’t care why they have standardized sequential offload/reload procedures.

  8. Just unload some of the rear luggage first before you start unloading the front.
    Problem solved.

  9. The easiest way to combat this issue with longer planes is to offload commodities from the back before the front. Always go back to front.

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