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British Airways

British Airways Kicks 20 Passengers off Flight Because Heat Wave Made Plane Too Heavy

British Airways Kicks 20 Passengers off Flight Because Heat Wave Made Plane Too Heavy
Sharon Hsu

Summer travelers aren’t the only ones noticing (and trying to escape) the heat. Record high temperatures caused British Airways to boot passengers off multiple flights out of London City Airport recently, citing that the planes could not take off in hot weather without a weight reduction to account for additional fuel. Stranded passengers were furious with the airline.

Most airline travelers these days expect to hear a gate announcement asking for volunteers to give up their seats on an overbooked flight. But what if you were asked to deplane because it was so hot that the aircraft could not take off with a full cabin?

This scenario greeted passengers on 14 different British Airways flights out of London City Airport (LCY) last Friday. Citing the temperatures (35-degrees Celsius, or 95-degrees Fahrenheit), BA officials said that the heat was affecting cabin pressure and that they’d have to deplane passengers in order for the aircraft to carry enough fuel to take off.

Travelers were understandably furious at having vacation plans disrupted, including 20 passengers kicked off of a flight to Ibiza.

43-year-old Mhairi Hopkins told The Sun Online that her family was already in line to board when the gate announcer said they needed to take people off the plane, “Nobody came forward and then they said we’re going to have to pick 14 people because it’s so hot we need to carry more petrol in order to take off. Then they read out the names of some people and said ‘family Hopkins.’ There’s five of us, one with special needs, and they didn’t seem to care at all.”

The airline scrambled to re-book the family, but Hopkins notes, “Then they said we’ll book you on the 11.15am flight from Heathrow tomorrow morning, which we later found out was not guaranteed and that we had to join another queue to get ourselves onto another flight.”

When reached for comment, a BA representative said, “Because of the unique nature of [London City’s] airfield, with a short runway and steep take-off, extreme temperatures affect air pressure so aircraft weight has to be reduced. This meant regrettably we were forced to offload 20 customers from our Ibiza service. We are working with them to provide hotel accommodation and re-book them on flights tomorrow.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (15)


  1. PurdueFlyer

    August 1, 2018 at 5:33 am

    It’s a weight restriction. Why is this news-worthy?

  2. TMOliver

    August 1, 2018 at 7:29 am

    For some/many, there’s nothing new under the Summer sun. Back in the “Not so Good Old Days”, being booted from flights across the US Southwest for gross weight issues was not unusual. I recall a flight out of Long beach which departed short on fuel to keep weight down, then landed in Ontario to top off with JP.

  3. jjmoore

    August 1, 2018 at 9:34 am

    This kind of stuff happens all the time. Hot summers in Denver are a great example where regional jets often times have to remove 10+ people.

    At least EU261 applies here and compensation will be paid out. In the states, you would be lucky to get a $400 travel certificate in these cases as a good-will gesture from the airline.

  4. shadesofgrey1x

    August 1, 2018 at 11:24 am

    I dont see why the outrage? Nobody controls the weather either they remove some pax or nobody leaves.

  5. DutchessPDX

    August 1, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    I don’t think EU261 would even apply here. My bet is they’ll call this weather related issue and deny compensation.

  6. mvoight

    August 1, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    Too much heat IS weather related. So, no euros……

  7. yyccdg

    August 1, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    I think if you are having a heatwave, you have a pretty good idea that tomorrow will be forecasted to be hot, so why are they not proactive and rebooking people onto other flights the same day from LHR or LGW? The weather isn’t that much of a surprise that this cannot be minimized in advance.

  8. dblumenhoff

    August 1, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    There is an inaccuracy in the article. The issue with the heat isn’t about cabin pressure. It’s about outside air pressure. Higher temp=lower air pressure=less are going through the turbines=less thrust=lower takeoff speed when you have limited runway length=lower takeoff weight.

    Also @jjmoore: Though I’m not so familiar with the rules on this, wouldn’t this be eligible for denied boarding compensation even in the US? They overbooked the flight, because the flight only could depart with X number of seats and they booked X+20. There is an exemption in the DOT rule when bumping happens due to weight and balance, but only for flights under 60 seats, which suggests that over 60 seats would be eligible for DBC.

  9. ioto1902

    August 1, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    By any chance, did BA think about offloading a cargo container before offloading pax ?
    Otherwise said, did they prefer offloarding one-time super-saver Y pax expecting these vacations for months, before offloarding pluri-annual contract cargo ?

  10. twb3

    August 1, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    Cabin pressure? more fuel to take off? This article was written by an aviation illiterate.

  11. JMS87

    August 2, 2018 at 5:29 am

    “Nobody came forward and then they said we’re going to have to pick 14 people because it’s so hot we need to carry more petrol in order to take off”

    If they were putting petrol in the tanks then the Hopkins family were lucky to be offloaded 😉

  12. Great_circle

    August 2, 2018 at 6:08 am

    If you are having a heatwave you may have a pretty good idea that tomorrow will be hot. However, I would not feel confident operating an aircraft tomorrow on a short, high or hot runway, solely based on performance calculations made today while not knowing what the exact air temperature, air pressure and wind tomorrow will be like.

  13. jrpallante

    August 2, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Does anybody think the plane should have taken off with too much weight? Or with insufficient fuel? That said, it is a little disconcerting the the margin of safety is so narrow. The article does not mention the aircraft, but BA flies an EMB190 from LCY to IBZ. A fully loaded EMB190 weighs about 52 tons. Does 1-ton worth of passengers really mean the difference between a safe flight and a risky one? I’m sure this is all dictated by regulations, but I wonder if it would truly be dangerous to fly a plane of that size with an extra ton of passengers/cargo?

  14. businessguy

    August 2, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Was it decided that the heavier passengers be offloaded? Seems that would affect the least amount of people.

    Last year, Air Canada wanted to denied boarding to my two 5 year olds because of weight on a q400.

  15. edgewood49

    August 4, 2018 at 6:51 am

    A typical click bait post Blogs like these are running FlyerTalk

    this blogger seems to have come on the scene with several of these of late.

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