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Emergency Exit Seating Requirements?

jodjtm22
New Arrival

Hello. I was in the exit row on a flight on 12/11/21 and the flight attendant, approached the exit row and asked everyone for their undivided attention, I was listening to her speak while finishing a text on my phone. She then spoke to me as if I was subject to her motherly direction, telling me that I had to stop texting while she was talking and I had to look at her while she was presenting. I then proceeded to finish my text and she stopped her presentation, and spoke to me with a kind of sharp tone in front of others on the plane, I responded stating that I could hear everything that she said,  I understand the requirements for sitting in the exit row (because I have sat in the row before), she then abruptly turned around and headed to the front of the plane to have someone come on to the plane and tell me that I had to move to a non exit row (fortunately the flight was not full).

 

Can someone tell me if this is an allowable occurrence under Southwest's customer service code of conduct? I reviewed the Southwest Emergency Exit Seating Requirements (below) and I did not read where a flight attendant can request that a person is "fully paying attention" and can assess a person's "fully paying attention" and then instruct the person on where he or she needs to position his or her eyes and neck to be in conformance with the attendants subjective assessment as to what "fully paying attention" looks like. Further, can someone help me understand how a flight attendant's determination that a person was not paying full attention can unquestionably result in that person being asked to move to a non exit row.

 

I have flown Southwest a lot and I have never experienced this level of treatment. If "lack of awareness" has not been strictly defined and it is left up to the flight attendant to determine and based on the determination the attendant has the power to penalize, I believe this opens up the door for overzealousness, abuse of power, and non equal & unfair penalization for a variety of reasons such as a flight attendant's biases, mode, mental state, etc. My primary concern is, does Southwest have a culture that supports punitive measures based upon subjective assessments that are not based on clearly defined policies.  

 

 

Emergency Exit Seating Requirements

Federal regulations require that a Customer select a non-exit seat if he or she cannot or does not wish to perform the following functions:

  • Locate the emergency exit
  • Recognize the emergency exit opening mechanism
  • Comprehend the instructions for operating the emergency exit
  • Operate the emergency exit
  • Assess whether opening the emergency exit will increase the hazards to which passengers may be exposed
  • Follow oral directions and hand signals given by a crewmember
  • Stow and secure the emergency exit window so that it will not impede use of the exit
  • Pass expeditiously through the emergency exit
  • Assess, select, and follow a safe path away from the emergency exit

    In addition, to comply with federal regulations a passenger seated in an exit seat must have sufficient mobility, strength or dexterity in both arms, hands, and both legs to:

    • Reach upward, sideways, and downward to the location of the emergency exit
    • Grasp and push, pull, turn, or otherwise manipulate mechanisms
    • Push, shove, pull, or otherwise open the emergency exit
    • Lift out, hold, deposit on nearby seats, or maneuver over the seatbacks to the next row or out the opening objects the size and weight of over-wing window exit doors
    • Remove obstructions similar in size and weight to overwing exit windows
    • Reach the emergency exit expeditiously
    • Maintain balance while removing obstructions
    • Exit expeditiously

      A passenger seated in an exit seat must:

      • Be 15 years of age or older
      • Have the capacity to perform the applicable functions without the assistance of an adult companion, parent, or other relative
      • Have the ability to read and understand instructions related to emergency evacuation provided by Southwest in printed or graphic form
      • Have the ability to understand oral crew commands
      • Have sufficient visual capacity to perform applicable functions without the assistance of visual aids beyond contact lenses or eyeglasses
      • Have sufficient aural capacity to hear and understand instructions shouted by Flight Attendants without assistance beyond a hearing aid
      • Have the ability to adequately impart information orally in English to other passengers

        A passenger seated in an exit seat must not:

        • Have preboarded
        • Use a portable oxygen concentrator
        • Require a seat belt extension to fasten his or her seat belt
        • Have a condition or responsibilities, such as caring for small children or pets, that might prevent them from performing the applicable functions
        • Have a condition that might cause the person harm if he or she performs one or more of the applicable functions
9 REPLIES 9

Re: Emergency Exit Seating Requirements?

TheMiddleSeat
Top Contributor
Solution

The crew's actions sound typical for any airline. When sitting in an emergency exit row seat you need to pay attention to the instructions being given, that means stopping what you are doing and looking at the crew while instructions are given. Not only is it rude for you to insist that they wait for you to finish your text before you give them your attention, it is a sign that you are not willing/able to do the tasks being asked of you. As someone who may be sitting in another row and depending on those in the emergency exit row to get me out of the plane safely I'm glad you were relocated.

 

--TheMiddleSeat

Re: Emergency Exit Seating Requirements?

jksobonya
Rising Star

Sorry, you can't just be on your phone not paying attention to the flight attendant when you are sitting in the emergency exit row and instructions are being given, even if you've sat there before and "know" the rules. You have to pay attention when they are talking to you. You were out of line. 

 

--Jessica

Re: Emergency Exit Seating Requirements?

FlyWithLUV
New Arrival

For sure. The purpose of the flight crew is to ensure everyone's safety. If the flight attendant has a reasonable doubt that you would be unable to fulfill the requirements of sitting in the exit row, they have the right, at their discretion, to reseat you. In my opinion, if a passenger was on their phone during the exit row briefing, I would question whether or not that passenger would be able to assist in the event of an emergency. And if an emergency does indeed happen, although it's not likely, if a passenger sitting in the exit row was unfamiliar with expectations or instructions for operating the exit row doors, the consequences could be drastic.

 

As a rule of thumb, pay attention to the flight attendants, especially during the exit row briefing. Sure, some flight attendants might not care as much if you were on your phone, but as a basic principle of respect, it's important to actively listen (with your undivided attention) to their instructions.

Re: Emergency Exit Seating Requirements?

YeahNoMaybe
Active Member
  • "Follow oral directions and hand signals given by a crewmember"

    Is it possible the flight attendant had concerns with your ability to follow oral directions?

Re: Emergency Exit Seating Requirements?

elijahbrantley
Rising Star

As a simple sign of respect, when they come to give the exit row briefing, I give them my undivided attention. They have a lot to do in a little amount of time.

 

-A List Preferred, Companion Pass holder, Community Champion.

Re: Emergency Exit Seating Requirements?

Bill5303
New Arrival

This is an example of showing a lack of respect and decency toward the flight attendant. 

Re: Emergency Exit Seating Requirements?

jodjtm22
New Arrival

Hi community. I received a notice stating that a solution was selected for the topic that I wrote. Can someone help me understand how a solution was selected that I did not select? I was hoping to receive objective information, backed by written policy and or procedure in response to my questions (below), however, I received subjective responses, relative ideological responses., etc. Can someone  provide an objective response to my question in this community?

 

"Can someone tell me if this is an allowable occurrence under Southwest's customer service code of conduct? I reviewed the Southwest Emergency Exit Seating Requirements (below) and I did not read where a flight attendant can request that a person is "fully paying attention" and can assess a person's "fully paying attention" and then instruct the person on where he or she needs to position his or her eyes and neck to be in conformance with the attendants subjective assessment as to what "fully paying attention" looks like. Further, can someone help me understand how a flight attendant's determination that a person was not paying full attention can unquestionably result in that person being asked to move to a non exit row."

Re: Emergency Exit Seating Requirements?

buzzchris
Active Member

As a previous reply by "YeahNoMaybe" said: The FAA rules do state:  "Follow the oral directions...by the FA".  My friend who is a SW captain, and a family member in the higher tiers of the FAA messaged me and made their comment - "What part of the FAA regs 'Follow the oral directions...' is confusing?"  In the past, I flew as an LEO on SW and came across this and was asked to intervene.     "Follow the oral directions..." really seems unclear to many passengers.     The FAs have enough to do to ensure safety without dealing with rude, non-complying passengers.  According to my SW Captain friend, most pilots would like to see a permanent ban on those passengers who ignore the FAs. 

Re: Emergency Exit Seating Requirements?

dfwskier
Top Contributor

@jodjtm22 wrote:

Hi community. I received a notice stating that a solution was selected for the topic that I wrote. Can someone help me understand how a solution was selected that I did not select?

 

Anyone reading a post can mark the post as a solution -- ANYONE.

 

I was hoping to receive objective information, backed by written policy and or procedure in response to my questions (below), however, I received subjective responses, relative ideological responses., etc. Can someone  provide an objective response to my question in this community?

 

How is the FA to know that you are an old pro that knows everything there is to know?

The FA is given the duty of making sure that exit row occupiers know exactly what to do in the event a plane goes down and people have to get off the thing.

 

Failure to do so can result in deaths. You don;t need a policy to understand that -- just a bit of common sense