Some responses to a post last week — as well a conversation with a colleague — made me ponder if exit row passengers should receive training or meet more stringent criteria.
How It All Started
Several readers — including some flight attendants — weighed in the situation and exit rows in general.
Volunteer Safety Marshal
A colleague of mine (who’s also an Air Force veteran) thinks exit row seats shouldn’t be charged a premium.
“I think it’s complete [nonsense],” he told me as we flew from Las Vegas to LAX. “If there’s an emergency, you become a de facto safety officer. But airlines think you should pay extra money to willingly put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation?”
What About Passenger Training?
I am a believer in the importance of the responsibilities while sitting in the emergency aisle. In today’s world there are many job duties that requires special certifications. I think it would be a good idea if airlines offered training sessions to passengers on how to properly open the doors of the airplane in an emergency. Perhaps a 15 minute course on a simulator that would be in [an] area of the airport. After successfully passing the course and receiving the certification a passenger would be permitted to sit in the emergency aisle of the airplane.
It’s certainly an interesting idea. Indeed, an ABC News commentary pointed out, “[An emergency] — as utterly rare as it is these days — is not the time for realizing your shoulder won’t handle 40 to 50 pounds of unhinged door.” The same post gives credence to Mike’s suggestion.
I’ve sat in exit rows countless times — and like to think I could open the exit door. Thankfully, the opportunity has never presented itself.
I doubt airlines would spring for anything like passenger training, though. Logistics (which airports would have the training and where, etc) plus costs (simulators, labor, insurance) may seemingly not be worth it to air carriers. (Thanks, Mike, for your thoughtful comment!)
Alcoholic Beverages Served to Exit Row Passengers: Cheers?
I admit it: I occasionally enjoy a Woodford Reserve or glass of wine while sitting in the exit row. But unless the flight is a long haul, I rarely enjoy more than one serving. Sitting in the exit row does command a certain level of coherence.
People hopefully know their limits. And flight attendants can pretty easily spot someone who’s had too much to drink. But I still find it interesting that passengers seated in a potentially critical part of the aircraft are allowed to consume alcohol.
Passengers called to action during an emergency is pretty much a worst-case situation.
Heck, we probably hear more about passengers helping subdue troublemakers (would-be cockpit stormers, belligerent jerks, etc) more often than we do folks assisting with evacuations. So exit row support really does seem very, very unlikely. But there’s always that chance…
What Do You Think?
Should passengers require training to sit in exit rows? Should alcohol not be served to those seated in exit rows?
Please tell us your thoughts in the below Comments section!
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