Something New and Frustrating From an Air Canada Flight Attendant

Writing tonight from Toronto on a quick trip from St. Louis.   After meetings tomorrow, I’ll be back in S t. Louis by dinner time.

After an unexpected experience on my flight tonight, I was reminded that airline service is 100% correlated to the people, not to the airline itself.  There are good people on bad airlines and bad people on good ones.  Tonight, I had the latter.

Tonight I heard something from a flight attendant I have never heard before.

Air Canada's CRJ - My Plane from St. Louis to Toronto

The flight up was on Jazz, Air Canada’s regional airline.  It was a CRJ, direct from St. Louis to Toronto.  This CRJ has two seats on either side of the aisle and 13 rows.  It’s a squeeze for most people and relatively uncomfortable.

I was seated in row 2 on the aisle, and the window seat next to me was occupied.  The man seemed nice enough, but I could tell by the placement of his arm on the center armrest, that he was not going to move it for the length of the flight.  His elbow was well into my space.  Already squeezed, I felt even more so.  However, the two seats across the aisle were empty.  Score!

When boarding ended, the guy next to me politely asked whether I would want to move across the aisle.  Of course I did.  However, I had heard the flight attendant tell another passenger that he couldn’t move until we were in the air and the seat belt signed was turned off.  That was very odd.  Very odd.

Wanting to respect the flight attendant, I asked if I could move across the aisle.  The FA said no.  He said gave me the same answer I had overheard.  The conversation then went something like this:

Me:  “I’ve never heard that before.  People move all the time before take off to get more comfortable.”

FA:  “You need to wait until the seat belt sign is off after take-off.”

Me:  “Ok, but I don’t understand why.  I’ve never heard that before.”

FA:  “It’s for weight distribution.  This is a small plane.”

Me:  “You’re kidding.”

FA:  “Do you want to go talk to the pilot?  I’ll go get the pilot.  He can explain it to you.”

Here’s the thing — the flight was 2/3 full, and there was no way that me moving from one aisle seat across to another aisle seat was going to throw the plane out of balance.  If he had just said it was Air Canada or Jazz policy, I would have bought that.  He acted as if our seats were assigned based on weight distribution.  Of course that’s ridiculous.

About two minutes later, the FA gets on the speaker and announces that he needs two people from the front rows to move to the rear of the plane “for weight distribution.”  He is staring right at me as he says this.  He says we can’t leave until someone moves.  By this point, I was frustrated, and I got snippy.

Me:  “I don’t want to move to the back.  I want to move across the aisle.”

FA:  Row 11, 12 or 13. (Still staring through me.)

So – I moved and we left.  My luck – this FA will be on my return flight tomorrow.

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