Exit row seating eligibility

Old May 10, 2019, 5:34 am
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Exit row seating eligibility

I have been on 2 flights in the past month where senior gentlemen have slowly walked the aisle while boarding, needed help to put their bags in the overhead compartments and then plonked down in the exit row. When the flight attendant asked, they said that they are capable of doing exit row responsibilities and so were allowed to sit there. Do flight attendants have any leeway to say "well, if you could not lift your bag, how are you going to open the door? You need to move"
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Old May 10, 2019, 6:24 am
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This is the applicable regulation. 14 CFR 121.585

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/121.585
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Old May 10, 2019, 6:36 am
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Yes, FA's most certainly can and do. As this is a safety issue for you, I hope that you brought it to the attention of a FA.

Someone who cannot lift their carry-on into an OH, likely cannot lift out the emergency exit and place it somewhere else. Or more to the point, it at least deserves crewmember questioning.
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Old May 10, 2019, 7:01 am
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Seen a GA and older guy onetime get into an argument over this.

Guy tried to preboard and machine beeped and GA said you can't sit in exit row if you need extra time down the jet bridge. Guy got really mad. Not sure how it got resolved.
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Old May 10, 2019, 7:14 am
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This policy was correctly enforced with me

I was traveling with my gf to Las Vegas. I routinely get through airports without much hassle. So I carefully booked exit row seats for extra legroom for return flight.

On the trip trip out my gf had some issues that required us to get wheelchair assistance for her. United handled this well. The need for a wheelchair was communicated to the airport and a wheelchair was waiting. During the process of getting to our rental car I somehow pulled a muscle in my back.

We we were both not comfortable for the weekend and on the return gf insisted on wheelchairs for both. I was not terribly excited about this but went with the flow. We got through security and were sitting in the United Cub when I remembered the exit row seats. Explained to gf about losing exit row seats if we rolled up in wheelchairs. She insisted and when we got to the gate I tried to avoid pre-boarding. At that point we really did not need to pre-board. The wheelchair employee insisted and the boarding pass reader beeped and the exit row seats were gone. I had absolutely no problem with Uniteds handling of the situation. The agent thought I was upset but I told her, No, you are following FAA regulations and I support you in doing your job.

Honestly I was embarrassed because at this point it looked like we were trying to game the system. United refunded the seat fee and we went on our way.
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Old May 10, 2019, 8:46 am
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I, unfortunately did not bring it up to an FA because I did not know if they could/would enforce beyond just asking the "Are you willing to help in case of an emergency?" question. One of the gentlemen also had a persistent tremor in his arm.

Now that I know that FAs can ask the secondary question, I will be more vocal.
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Old May 10, 2019, 9:10 am
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Airlines that charge people a fee to sit in the exit row bring this on themselves, unfortunately. My experience with foreign OALs has been that they are very serious about this issue and will move people without the ability to speak English (think it was LH) and move people they do not believe are capable of performing the duties that may be required.

If the person was as physically challenged as identified by the OP the UA FA should have been watching as the person boarded and sat in the exit row, and/or the GA should have said something when the reader beeped. UA probably does not want to be sued for discrimination and is probably less concerned about the ineffectual FAA - when has there been any enforcement of ability to perform duties required for the exit row?
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Old May 10, 2019, 9:40 am
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Originally Posted by DLrunner
Do flight attendants have any leeway to say "well, if you could not lift your bag, how are you going to open the door? You need to move"
Yes, as noted, but many of them will avoid confrontations and just let obvious violations go. Same with people using oversized devices during take-off/landing, or not storing their carry-on properly.
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Old May 10, 2019, 11:28 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee
Yes, as noted, but many of them will avoid confrontations and just let obvious violations go. Same with people using oversized devices during take-off/landing, or not storing their carry-on properly.
I have seen people still on their phone talking when the plane is taking off. Ive also seen people ignore the instructions to put their seat up only to be told multiple times to do it again. I am a compulsive rule follower when I travel. All those rules are in place for a reason! The obviously-shouldve-been-checked bag is probably my favorite though.
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Old May 10, 2019, 12:32 pm
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Originally Posted by bhunt
Seen a GA and older guy onetime get into an argument over this.

Guy tried to preboard and machine beeped and GA said you can't sit in exit row if you need extra time down the jet bridge. Guy got really mad. Not sure how it got resolved.
I see this scenario unfold at boarding about 5-10 times a year. I'm waiting to board, they call disabled.... someone limps up, then promptly takes their seat in the exit row. Only ONCE did I see a GA push back.
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Old May 10, 2019, 12:37 pm
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Originally Posted by DLrunner
I have been on 2 flights in the past month where senior gentlemen have slowly walked the aisle while boarding, needed help to put their bags in the overhead compartments and then plonked down in the exit row. When the flight attendant asked, they said that they are capable of doing exit row responsibilities and so were allowed to sit there. Do flight attendants have any leeway to say "well, if you could not lift your bag, how are you going to open the door? You need to move"
In today's world (where everyone gets offended at the slightest mention of anything negative about themselves) you would expect this conversation to end up in compliance by the passenger ? Seems to be no difference between actual wrongdoing and "perceived" wrongdoing depending on what side you are on (the "victim" or the authoritative person). Worsening everywhere, no end in sight.
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Old May 10, 2019, 2:28 pm
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Originally Posted by Aussienarelle
My experience with foreign OALs has been that they are very serious about this issue and will move people without the ability to speak English (think it was LH) and move people they do not believe are capable of performing the duties that may be required.
Once a COPA check-in agent removed me from my exit row seat after she decided my Spanish was not good enough.
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Old May 10, 2019, 2:29 pm
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Originally Posted by CAPT Tee
Once a COPA check-in agent removed me from my exit row seat when she found out my Spanish was not good enough.
Same here. I was mildly offended she did not like my Spanish
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Old May 10, 2019, 3:00 pm
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IMO, the qualifications should increase. In addition to the verbal yes, each passenger in the exit rows should be blind-folded. If they cannot perform the motions to open the exit door blind-folded, they should be excused from the seat assignment. In a dire situation, having clear visibility and time to look at the instructions are not givens. The blind-fold test will also verify if said passenger even studied the instructions.
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Old May 10, 2019, 5:40 pm
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Originally Posted by LordHamster
I see this scenario unfold at boarding about 5-10 times a year. I'm waiting to board, they call disabled.... someone limps up, then promptly takes their seat in the exit row. Only ONCE did I see a GA push back.
Crazy, I didn't even think this was allowed!? He/she should have been removed immediately. When I travel with my elderly mother I don't even consider the exit row when choosing seats (although she thinks she is capable).
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