Is an empty exit row a safety issue

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Old Aug 13, 19, 9:36 am
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Is an empty exit row a safety issue

I was thinking about my recent Swoop flight, and came to a realization. Before takeoff one of the FA's gave a briefing on how to open the over-wing exit to the folks in 16DEF. But nobody was seated in 16ABC. I guess no one wanted to pay for the extra legroom there (I was in 17C - which has some extra legroom but was cheaper than the exit row.)

In the event of an evacuation, who's job is it to open an emergency exit when the exit row is empty? If passengers with mobilty issues can't sit in the exit row for safety reasons, then is having an empty exit row a safety issue?
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Old Aug 13, 19, 8:35 pm
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Originally Posted by smallmj View Post
I was thinking about my recent Swoop flight, and came to a realization. Before takeoff one of the FA's gave a briefing on how to open the over-wing exit to the folks in 16DEF. But nobody was seated in 16ABC. I guess no one wanted to pay for the extra legroom there (I was in 17C - which has some extra legroom but was cheaper than the exit row.)

In the event of an evacuation, who's job is it to open an emergency exit when the exit row is empty? If passengers with mobilty issues can't sit in the exit row for safety reasons, then is having an empty exit row a safety issue?

Not a safety issue. Who will attend to that exit you ask? The cabin crew. They are ultimately responsible for all exits onboard.
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Old Aug 14, 19, 8:06 am
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Originally Posted by smallmj View Post
(I was in 17C - which has some extra legroom but was cheaper than the exit row.)
In the event of an evacuation, who's job is it to open an emergency exit when the exit row is empty?
I'll be counting on the passenger in 17C to help out.


Originally Posted by cirrusdragoon View Post
Not a safety issue. Who will attend to that exit you ask? The cabin crew. They are ultimately responsible for all exits onboard.


There are 4 f/a's on a 737-800. They will be seated at the 4 main doors.
In the event of an evacuation, I can't see any of them swimming upstream to the over wing exits.
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Old Aug 14, 19, 8:23 am
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I've been the beneficiary of this in the past when asked to move into an empty exit row so someone is 'staffing' the exit. On Norwegian I think. No idea if some countries have formal rules or if just airline by airline policy
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Old Aug 14, 19, 9:13 am
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Originally Posted by tracon View Post
I'll be counting on the passenger in 17C to help out.




There are 4 f/a's on a 737-800. They will be seated at the 4 main doors.
In the event of an evacuation, I can't see any of them swimming upstream to the over wing exits.

The preferred emergency exits are the aircraft cabin doors not the over wing exits as per Transport Canada. If no one is seated in the over-wing exit it is fine as those are simply alternate exits. The cabin crew shout their commands “ come this way” for a reason , for it is safer for a passenger to exit from a crew manned door exit vs an unsupervised non crew over-wing exit.

That being said , should the aircraft be taxiing on the ground, and no one is seated at an over-wing exit, and lets say the the cabin crew are in the aisle and are in front of the over wing exit, and an immediate danger is presented that would warrant an evacuation, there are shouted commands that cabin crew would use and modify to get passengers out of an over-wing exit then and there. The situation will dictate in the specific scenario.

Last edited by cirrusdragoon; Aug 14, 19 at 9:33 am
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Old Aug 14, 19, 9:18 am
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Originally Posted by ajeleonard View Post
I've been the beneficiary of this in the past when asked to move into an empty exit row so someone is 'staffing' the exit. On Norwegian I think. No idea if some countries have formal rules or if just airline by airline policy
It varies country to country , also , it will vary airline to airline. The regulatory body of each country sets a base of standards and each airline adds in their own safety protocols based on their own history of incidents and risk assessments .
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Old Aug 14, 19, 9:25 am
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If that's the case how can you fly a plane with just a few passengers? Like those flights that make the new because the passenger basically has a private jet?
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Old Aug 15, 19, 7:51 am
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I'm not sure what your question is asking.
An a/c will have a minimum number of f/a's in order to be dispatched.
If a 737 only has 2 f/a's available, capacity will be restricted to 100pax.
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Old Aug 15, 19, 8:00 am
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Originally Posted by tracon View Post
I'm not sure what your question is asking.
An a/c will have a minimum number of f/a's in order to be dispatched.
If a 737 only has 2 f/a's available, capacity will be restricted to 100pax.
From a Transport Canada perspective, they only allow two options and the airline can only operate to one of them, not switch for convenience:

- 1 F/A for every 40 passengers - F/A number can vary dependent on passenger load. WestJet used to operate to this model.

- 1 F/A for every 50 seats - F/A number is fixed for a given aircraft seat capacity. WestJet now operates to this model.
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Old Aug 16, 19, 9:23 am
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Originally Posted by s0ssos View Post
If that's the case how can you fly a plane with just a few passengers? Like those flights that make the new because the passenger basically has a private jet?
I had this once. Flight from Montreal to Quebec city on a Jazz Q300. There were a total of 2 passengers, myself and someone traveling with me. They were able to fly the aircraft the same as always. The inflight service was a bit more personalized. I am told the return leg back to Montreal was nearly full.
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Old Aug 16, 19, 7:57 pm
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Originally Posted by s0ssos View Post
If that's the case how can you fly a plane with just a few passengers? Like those flights that make the new because the passenger basically has a private jet?
If there is only one passenger then that passenger has all the flight attendants for service, and all the exits available so why wouldn't that be better since you imply it's worse or impossible?

I guess if the one passenger was the worrying type, they could sit in an exit row.

Remember the airline has to get the plane from A to B since it is going to be needed at B.
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