Airline Takes Off With More Passengers Than Seats, They Stand in the Aisle for 1700 Miles

Back in 2012 Ryanair floated the idea of ‘standing seats’ to pack more passengers in and lower costs. And Airbus has a patent for ‘double decker’ seating. But neither idea is supposed to be real or is approved for flying — anywhere.

But that didn’t stop Pakistan International Airlines — the indisputable worst airline in the world — from boarding more passengers than seats on a January 20 flight. So those passengers, who were given handwritten boarding passes for the 1700 mile flight from Karachi to Medina, simply stood in the aisle.

The flight in question went from Karachi to Medina carrying a total of 416 passengers, on a Boeing 777 with a total seating capacity of 409, including staff seats.

…It quotes flight captain Anwer Adil as insisting that he was not told about the extra passengers until after take-off.

…”Therefore after take-off [any] immediate landing back at Karachi was not possible as it required a lot of fuel dumping which was not in the interest of the airline.”

Boeing 777 on Approach to New York JFK in 2014, Copyright zhukovsky / 123RF Stock Photo

(HT: Rakesh)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Interesting comment, maybe not off base but certainly sounds fishy…landing was not in the best interest of the company…

  2. I once flew on an airline in Bolivia where some people were standing. They were still probably safer than some of the buses I road on in that same country. This was about 12 years ago.

  3. Have we just witnessed the launching of PIA’s new low cost subsidiary – AirPakistand?

  4. For entertainment on this flight the flight crew should play a round of “musical chairs”. They could stuff the extra passengers in preferred seating using the jumpseats, lavatory seats, overhead luggage bin space, and maybe the extra seat on the flight deck.

  5. I flew PIA decades ago on a 747 between Tehran and Karachi. I was just a kid, but I do remember more people than seats – with people sitting and lying down in the aisles. This was way before social media, so it might have been a more common occurrence than we think!

  6. Unbelievable! PIA has come *down* a long way from its number 1 ranking back in 1975, as reported in an aviation magazine (as I recall reading back then).

    I flew PIA from Karachi to London in 1974, and remember having this couple from the UK in the seats behind me who remarked on the excellent food, how much better it was than British Airways, etc.

    Ancient history, I guess!

  7. During my three years of living in Pakistan, I took dozens of flights a year on PIA. Most of which were of the white knuckle type. I remember taking a flight from Isbad to Lahore. Before takeoff the crew noticed that something was wrong with one of the mechanisms on the right wing….in typical Pakistani fashion, they rolled out a ladder with a mechanic who proceeded to repair the problem with a large role of duct tape. In those days, and I imagine it remains the case today, the majority of pilots are ex-military and quite skilled. The only drawback is they land the passenger planes as if they were flying a military aircraft….not to many smooth landings.

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