Inappropriate people in exit row seats

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This topic contains 86 replies, has 35 voices, and was last updated by  OpenSky 9 Dec 2015
at 08:32

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  • Anonymous


    My wife and I flew back on Saturday from a week’s holiday. We had paid for exit row seating but we very surprised to see the couple across the aisle from us. The regulations for those sitting in exit rows are clear and yet we saw an elderly woman who was partially sighted sitting with a clinically obese man. Neither of them could have operated the exit row emergency exit doors on the Airbus.
    I discreetly raised this with the cabin crew who looked embarrassed but said there was nothing they could do as the people had paid for the seats so they couldn’t ask them to move.
    I don’t think this is acceptable and said so.


    Indeed Charles, for safety issues there is no excuse.

    Sadly in most areas of [xx] staff will take the line of least resistance. It’s the same when it comes to enforcing hand baggage guidelines, priority boarding etc. Easier to make an excuse and move on.

    Edit – removed the name of the ‘World’s Favourite Airline’ as not mentioned by the OP. Tut tut. Must do better.


    Charles-P – 02/11/2015 10:42 GMT

    That needs reporting to the aviation authority who oversees the airline.

    Every airline who sold me EE seats made it very clear that occupancy was subject to being suitable to sit there and that no refunds would arise of the crew needed to move me.


    May I ask with which airline the OP was flying?

    I suppose we can all take heart that it wasn’t TK as if it had been there would have been flashing lights on the post advertising another failing on their part.


    Good morning. In the event of an emergency the cabin crew would have to move the passengers who were unsuitable to operate an emergency door to an alternative seat. The crew would choose able bodied passengers to replace the unsuitable passengers (ABP’s) who would be briefed how to operate the door and how to remove the cabin crew member from the exit should they become incapacitated in any way that would impede the evacuation of the aircraft. Crew are told in their training to choose passengers who may be in or previously have been in the military, the police force, fire service, passengering cabin crew or indeed anyone who would be confident and physically to assist in an emergency. I do agree with Charles-P that the type of passengers he mentioned should ideally not be allowed to sit by the exit in the first place but I assume the airline “covers” themselves by mentioning on their websites etc that they can move passengers should they need to.


    @flyingtonight The inappropriate passengers should be moved BEFORE taxying. I don’t think you can wait for an emergency situation to arise and then politely explain that the unsuitable passengers should be moved to be replaced by more able bodied folk. The crew might be dead!

    An emergency exit, blocked by incapable pax, is not a good idea.

    I have also mentioned to the crew that there were inappropriate pax in the em exit seats on BA recently. Handled well….by moving the pax to Club Europe! The purser explained later that it happens frequently because of online check-in. It should be the gate staff who should notice a possible conflict before boarding.


    SimonS1 – the OP made no mention of BA – why the assumption that this was the airline he and his wife were flying with??


    @flyingtonight .. ‘in the event of an emergency the cabin crew would have to move the passengers who were unsuitable ….’.

    Really ?

    So in the event of an engine fire, similar to Las Vegas, or the 777 that bounced on to the runway at Heathrow in 2008, there will be no time to switch passengers.

    Passengers in exit row seats who are clearly not suitable, should be moved BEFORE the aircraft is on ‘push back’ from the gate.


    SimonS1 You stated recently that you hadn’t flown BA for years……




    As I mentioned in my initial post, I totally agree that the passengers we are talking about should not have been allowed to sit by the exit seat in the first place.
    As an ex airline employee and flying medic I am merely pointing out what airlines teach their cabin crew.
    There are many types of unforeseen and immediate emergency where there clearly would be no time to brief passengers or to move them. In an emergency where there was some time to prepare, such as landing gear failure, landing on water, etc, there may be time.


    Absolutely agree with some comments above that this is unacceptable. flyingtonight i don’t know all the regulations or what airlines teach but would be very surprised if this was the case that they are teaching the method you describe.

    In my eyes there are 4 opportunities to visually check and correct seating..
    1. check in staff
    2. gate staff
    3. cabin crew
    4. captain.

    I would hope that if explained to the passenger the reason that they are unable to be seated in their pre booked seat, having paid or not, would understand based on safety reasons.


    I spoke this morning with the relevant authorities of the country of registration of the airline. I was surprised to hear they have received similar reports from passengers on a number of airlines, as other posters above have stated this situation is the result of on-line check in systems where the first time passengers are seen is at the gate. I will update readers here when I get a response.

    For reference the regulations from ICAO are as follows:

    Be of a certain minimum age, ranging from 12 to 18 depending on the airline’s policies and/or local law.

    Not be traveling with anyone requiring special assistance in an emergency (such as an infant or person with a disability), or an animal (including service animals)

    Have no physical or mental impairment that would hinder quickly reaching and operating the emergency exit.

    Speak and read the national language of the airline’s home country (e.g. English on Qantas or German on Lufthansa, etc.)

    Not use a seatbelt extension.

    Be able to lift 27 kg/60 lb (for window exits only)

    I have also written to the airline via their website but have yet to receive a response beyond the standard, “thank you for your communication’ reply.


    I say name and shame Charles-P

    Again, its airlines putting revenue over the safety of its passengers!
    I was once on an Ryanair flight, and the 6 gentleman in the middle exit rows were so drunk, they shouldn’t have been on the aircraft, never mind sitting in an emergency exit row.

    Did the cabin crew address the issue ? ……
    Nope, and as the aircraft taxied to the runway, the lads exhortations over the weekend finally took their toll, and all were comatose by the time we took off.

    I’ve also seen inappropriate passengers, obese to be precise on BA and AF flights.

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