EasyJet under fire for asking a customer to remove a photo of a backless seat

Flying on a budget airline can be a little sparse sometimes, but at the very least, customers can expect a seat with a full back. In a photograph shared on Twitter by Matthew Harris on Tuesday, a woman is sitting in what appears to be a backless seat on an EasyJet plane.

Though both Harris and EasyJet clarified that no one actually sat there during the flight to Geneva, as the woman was moved to another seat with a proper back before take off, it still raised concerns on Twitter.

Especially as it’s not the first flight to have had this problem.

Understandably, people were concerned about what this meant for the condition of the rest of the plane.

Aside from worries about the state of the plane, people were concerned about the passengers in the row behind the backless seat.

It’s true that the brace position usually involves resting your head against the seat in front of you. This is to prevent a worse head injury being caused during impact by the passenger’s skull meeting that seat at high speed. If the passenger is too short to do that, or if they’re sitting at the front and therefore have no seat to brace against, tucking their head into their knees while gripping their ankles is fine. So while it’s an understandable concern, it looks like the passengers behind the empty seats would have been no worse off than everyone else in the event of a crash.

Beyond the safety concerns, however, people were absolutely incensed by the response from EasyJet’s social media team:

Hi Matthew, thanks for bringing this to our attention, before we can investigate this could I ask you to remove the photograph & then DM us more info regarding this, so we can best assist you. Ross

Asking someone to remove seemingly damning evidence is a singularly unwise move. Especially on the internet, where everything lives forever.

Thanks to Ross’ unwise approach, the rest of the poor social media team got to witness the Streisand Effect—where an attempt to suppress a photograph or information causes it to spread wildly. Twitter users began replying to EasyJet with the photograph.

Twitter user Tony Alexander offered the now besieged social media team some advice going forward on how to respond to customers’ concerns about a flight:

Here, EasyJet: We are aware of a photo depicting a traveler in a backless seat circulating social media. This photo in no way depicts the level of service, or safety our customers deserve. We are investigating this matter, and will take immediate steps to avoid this in the future

Let’s hope this doesn’t start a trend among low-cost airlines.

The Daily Dot reached out to EasyJet for comment, but the airline has yet to respond. We’ll update the article if we hear from the company.

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Siobhan Ball

Siobhan Ball

Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org