Multiple flights have experienced rows of seats coming loose during takeoff, and the airline said Thursday flights could be delayed while it inspects and makes necessary repairs.
Airline spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said Friday technicians "have identified the issue" and were "taking extra steps to ensure that the seats do not dislodge from the track." Huguely said the airline plans to have "all 48 of our Boeing 757s back in service" by Saturday.
Mary Frances Fagan, another airline spokeswoman, said Friday a part called the seat lock plunger mechanism can "get gunked up over time with people spilling sodas, popcorn, coffee or whatever and that can affect that locking mechanism on the ground that locks the seat to the floor," CNN reported.
The airline had previously speculated clamps that hold seats down may have been improperly installed. Fagan said the clamps may have been a factor in the problem but it's starting to look like gunk is also an issue, CNN reported.
However, Bill Waldock, professor and crash lab director at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., said he wondered why, if gunk is the problem, it's only now showing up -- and why so many loose seats are showing up in a short period of time.
"Did the gunk start building up and decide to falter in the planes at the same time? I kind of doubt that honestly," he said.