Discovering an empty row of seats in economy is like discovering $100 in an old pair of jeans. It’s a bit of a score. But despite every instinct telling you to lay claim to it as soon as possible, you shouldn’t.
The reason why was recently explained by a flight attendant who goes by the (TikTok) username of @serenityhaley1.
Haley says: “So here’s a quick little fun fact about planes. And here’s why you shouldn’t change your seat without asking a flight attendant.”
“Before takeoff we always do what’s called a weight and balance just to make sure the weight is good on the plane and the balance is ok for takeoff so when you change your seats your [sic] actually changing the balance of the plane so make sure you always ask just in case.”
She captioned the video: “I was surprised to learn this during training.”
One TikTok commenter wrote: “The average weight assigned to each passenger by the FAA is 200 pounds for men, 179 pounds for women and 76 pounds for children under 13.Mar 15, 2018.”
Another thanked Haley for clarifying, writing: “I did ask a flight attendant once if I could change seats, she said not until after take off. Now I know why. Thanks.”
Another said: “I worked regional & ppl did this it always throw off the W&B😅 then they’d think I was lying about it. It happens on big planes too w/ light loads.”
“A single person may not be so much trouble, but if multiple people do it adds up, particularly problematic on small aircraft.”TikTok user @Lucas19
Others jumped in with questions like: “So why is it when people move around to use the lav the plane doesn’t tilt over? but yet a seat change makes all the difference?”. One TikTok user responded to this by saying: “Because the aircraft is always auto trim when in flight – ie: wings and tail are keeping the aircraft stable.”
There you have it: that’s why you shouldn’t change seats until after takeoff.