A strange thing happened just before our takeoff from Phoenix's Sky Harbor. The crew asked for four volunteers from the front half of the plane to move to the back half of the plane. It was explained (by the disembodied voice of the Captain via speaker) that this move was NOT for safety reasons but was necessary (and only during takeoff) for "paperwork". That was the word he used. Now I've heard of regulations concerning weight distribution on smaller aircraft, but this was a 200-seater and was nearly sold out. So how much difference could a few hundred pounds make?
I couldn't help but wonder whether, upon approach to Philly, the crew would ask a few of us to please climb out onto the wings...not for safety reasons...but just for paperwork. Thankfully, no such request was forthcoming. I didn't bring my goggles.
I'm assuming this all had to do with some liability issue, and had the plane been nose-heavy, with the crew's knowledge, and then had it crashed, the airline would have been liable.
Any pilots out there care to elaborate?