Traveling a few weeks back and found a number of customer service stories from the line of work that seems absolutely determined to provide bad service — the airlines.After missing one flight (due to no fault of my own — in fact, I ran through the airport and arrived 10 minutes before departure only to be told the plane I was looking at was “closed”.  Another post, perhaps) I made my make-up flight that sent me back to where I’d just come from to make another (later) flight home.  I settled in and prepared to sleep.The flight attendant, smiling sweetly, started about row 2 to ask folks to move.  Story was something like: “We have to move some people towards the back of the plane for weight and balance issues.”  Being a pilot, this got my attention.  A plane that is out of balance can easily become uncontrollable, with disastrous results.  The attendant received blank stares, and proceeded to the next row.  And the next.  People flat-out ignored her.  Finally she goto my row and asked if I — and my seatmate — would move.  Sure, says I, wanting to live to see another sunrise.To my surprise, we were asked to move exactly one seat rearward, to the exit row (she was selling more footroom and people still weren’t biting).  So in effect, she moved about 350 pounds about 18 inches on a plane that probably weighed nearly 20 tons.  And this was near or at the existing CG (Center of Gravity) of the airplane.Now I have degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Mathematics, and am a pilot and aviation safety instructor.  While there is certainly a mathematical and aerodynamic change, I don’t believe for an instant it mattered one whit.  Which as a communications coach, raises one of two questions:

  1. Why would an Airline-whose-name-means-change-or-triangle-shaped-part-of-the-head-of-a-river employee deliberately lie to customers, with the likelihood very high that they would be found out?
  2. Why would an Airline-whose-name-means-change-or-triangle-shaped-part-of-the-head-of-a-river employee charged with safety of flight issues not be instructed as to the ramifications and parameters that must be met to ensure said safety?

My guess is that the regulations require an able-bodied person to actually be in the window seat of an exit row.  Why can’t that be said?  It would even put the blame on some bureaucrat instead of the person standing in front of me.  Either answer is quite disturbing to me.

Tell the truth or find out the reason.  Else you will be found out.

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