A pilot told nervous passengers travelling with a low-cost Spanish airline that nearly half the seats on their plane were out of use due to a safety problem but it was nothing to worry about, a Spanish newspaper reported.
As passengers took their seats on the Lisbon to Madrid flight operated by Vueling Airlines on Sunday they noticed that all but three of the 32 rows on one side of the plane were taped off, according to an El Mundo reporter among the travelers.
The captain told them on the intercom: "We will not be able to use that part of the plane because we have a safety problem with the door at the front. Don't worry, it's only a safety problem", the newspaper reported.
Some passengers took photos of the taped-off seats but staff stopped them saying it was against company rules.
Others became nervous including one passenger who asked whether the plane could tip over in mid-air by flying with a heavier load on one side.
The safety problem was with the slide on one of the plane's eight emergency exit doors, a spokeswoman for Vueling said.
The firm followed aviation guidelines which allow the door to be used but oblige a reduction in passenger numbers because it cannot fulfil its emergency function, she said.