Italian aviation officials conducted a surprise inspection of the BA flight from Milan to London Heathrow on Monday (5 February) only to conclude that the Airbus A320neo aircraft had the wrong kind of seat cushions.
The offending cushions affected seats in the overwing exit rows, which are usually less pronounced to create more space in the event of an evacuation, according to View From the Wing.
Following the inspection, it was established that the aircraft did not have the requisite modified cushions, however.
A passenger on the sold-out flight uploaded two videos of his experience to TikTok, which showed bemused business class passengers in suits – “funny scenes”, he wrote.
Air stewards can be heard reading out the correct serial number, while passengers were instructed to pull back their seats in an effort to find the smaller cushions that could be exchanged with the plush pillows.
“Basically, they [British Airways] had standard seat cushions in emergency rows; they need to have short ones in case of an emergency,” the TikTok user explained.
“So we are checking under the seats in case they are somewhere else. If we can’t find them, if we can’t find 12, we need to disembark and we are not safe to fly”.
Fortunately, the sharp-eyed passengers identified the correct cushions which were duly swapped and the flight departed with just an hour’s delay.
Several social media users were baffled by the debacle, however.
“Since when [are] pax allowed to dismantle [the] seat base? It is supposed to be done by an engineer or trained cabin crew,” said one, while another applauded the belt-and-braces approach, writing: “Nicely done, British Airways must follow the rules.”
The Independent has contacted British Airways for comment.
The unusual incident comes just weeks after new data revealed that one third of UK passengers suffered delays or cancellations in 2023.
Data from AirHelp found that London Gatwick was the worst offending airport when it came to disruption, with 42 per cent of passengers affected, while London Stansted came in a close second with a 39 per cent disruption rate.
The most punctual airport was Durham Tees Valley Airport, where just 19 per cent of flights were disrupted.