I don’t think that is correct, canucklad. I am not aware of any regulation that requires the seats to be occupied (whether or not by “qualified” people!). I have been on a few flights recently on CX or its subsidiary KA where I have been the only passenger in the exit row (which I get free as a FF).
Bath-VIP, while I (truly) sympathise, to my mind this is one of the (few) situations where “discrimination” is at least arguably justifiable on safety grounds. Having said that, in a (common) 3 by 3 layout, I cannot help but wonder the extent to which the person in the aisle seat can really make a difference. Surely the passengers in the window or middle seat would in practice take the burden of dealing with the door?
However, I fear that until such time as the authorities starting being a bit more pragmatic about such matters (don’t hold your breath) that you will have to accept this limitation as one of the things that goes along with your (regrettable) disability. However, I am well aware that there is a huge difference between being “registered blind” and what most people think of as “blind” – or perhaps I should say that the former covers a very wide spectrum of visual impairment. A former colleague of mine was registered blind, but was able to read normal documents without undue difficulty (albeit with – ahem – “significant spectacles”). it is clear that you are able to read in some manner. I don’t know whether this is using a braille reader, or transcription software, or something else – but is it in fact the case that you *could* read printed instructions? If so you might be able to argue that you don’t fall within the exclusion cited by FDOS above.
Funnily enough, I was referring back to a post you made a long time ago in a conversation with Junior Offspring about why the overhead handholds in a metro were rather luridly coloured, and explaining that this wasn’t a matter of taste (well, not necessarily, anyway) but was in fact a good thing. Many of us don’t stop to think about the insignificant (to us) changes to our environment that make a very significant difference to the people around us who may have to deal with the world in a different way. And although I curse under my breath from time to time when my suitcase wheels get stuck in the grooves of the ridged tiles used to help the visually impaired navigate, I do so while thinking I am lucky that that is the only extent of my problems, and that I am fortunate enough not to have to use them myself.
One final thought – although it isn’t a real substitute for legroom, have you ever tried to purchase a “comfort seat” instead? http://www.britishairways.com/travel/gsanswer/public/en_us?faqid=3804&gsLink=searchResults