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Emergency exit seats

Old 28th Feb 2008, 19:47
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Emergency exit seats

Can one of the resident CC (Tightslot, are you there?!) answer a question for me...

Was flying MAN-AMS on the Big Blue airline recently. 734, roughly 35 pax on board. Everyone shifted back to behind row 18 for weight & balance reasons, maybe one or two in biz. Hence, not a single overwing exit seat was occupied. The closest available person to the exits was at least 5 rows away and I noticed they weren't briefed in the usual manner about opening the hatch. Is it permitted to have emergency exit seats unoccupied, or is it dependent on how many pax on board and where they are seated?
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Old 28th Feb 2008, 20:41
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One for the budding FAQ???
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Old 28th Feb 2008, 22:00
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Quite possibly one for FAQ's, but I'll let tightslot do the honours!

I would add I know it's usual (essential?) for an able bodied person to be sat at each exit (CC for main doors, pax for overwings), but are the rules any different for a partially loaded flight? I also know its commonplace for spare CC to take up pax seats at overwing exits if there are no suitable pax to occupy them - my question - have the airline made a booboo worth complaining about?
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Old 28th Feb 2008, 22:05
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I fly weekly and on a number of occasions on lightly loaded flights I've been asked to move to an empty exit row in order that someone able bodied can open the exit door quickly. When flying with BA, RYR, EZY I also get a verbal instruction on how to use the door. It doesn't seem to follow with every airline however.
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Old 29th Feb 2008, 14:06
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At BA the rule is that there must be someone at the over-wing exits when the passenger load is more than 50%. The thinking behind it is that an evacuation using the main doors on a light load can be done in the required amount of time. I would also imagine, that when the trim is critical, as you have alluded to in your post, it is more important to have the passengers correctly seated around the aircraft.
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Old 29th Feb 2008, 16:08
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theskyboy

Thats what I thought was the case on this flight, but hasn't anyone considered the possibility that the main doors may be unusable? In which case, no one is seated by an overwing exit, neither have they been briefed as to how and when to open said exits...
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Old 29th Feb 2008, 16:20
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I have been in the exit seat on an Irish airline several times, we split and leg it for the aircraft. I carry the bags, Mrs PN gets the seats.

No once have I been briefed.

Same on birdseed airlines although there was a CC in the seat opposite. Perhaps they can see that I examine the mechanism closely and look suitably nervous/attentive.
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Old 29th Feb 2008, 16:24
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I'm sure it has been considered but it's all about calculated risks and probability.

IE The probability of having an evacuation with a minimal load when the main doors are all unuseable vs. the aircraft being out of trim leading to an incident on take off / landing etc.

Just because passengers haven't been briefed on the operation of an overwing exit, doesn't mean they wouldn't be able to open them.

If there are cabin crew in the one of the over wing seats, then it is not necesary to brief passengers.


tsb
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Old 29th Feb 2008, 17:35
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Originally Posted by theskyboy View Post
IE The probability of having an evacuation with a minimal load
On the Irish airline>

Just because passengers haven't been briefed on the operation of an overwing exit, doesn't mean they wouldn't be able to open them.
True.

However on one drill, pull as I could I could not get the window out. My instructor tried too and he could not do it either. Called the groundcrew who do it all the time - lift handle and push.

The window opened outwards not inwards
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Old 5th Apr 2008, 23:15
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May I expand this thread slightly, by raising another point regarding those who occupy 'emergency exit' seats?

A couple of weeks ago I flew to Washington and requested an emergency exit seat. I explained that I was ex RAF and was familiar with the door operation etc. and happy to accept the responsibility, only to be told that all of those seats had been pre booked (usually by Gold card holders)

Thats fair enough, and I don't fly that often really, so I can understand why these passengers having priority over myself for seating choice. What I was concerned about however, is that one of the emergency exit seats was occupied by a very elderly couple and another emergency exit was occupied by a couple who barely spoke english!

Yesterday, I returned to the UK with the same airline and the very same thing happened. Emergency exit seats occupied by people who, IMHO, would have been unable or unfit (or both) to have operated the doors in an emergency.

I have raised this question on PPRuNe before, and I have raised it with the airline concerned, and was assured by them that it should NOT happen, and the airline would investigate and get back to me (they didn't!) They also assured me that these seats were NOT pre-bookable, and were allocated on the day of flight and only after the check-in staff were satisfied that those who would be occupying the seats were 'fit and able'

As Pontius Navigator and others have stated, I have never ever seen anyone being given a briefing on the operation of the doors, and whenever I have had the good fortune to be seated there, I have never been given a briefing either.

Several years ago, an aquantance of mine was badly injured in the aircraft that caught fire during take off at Manchester. One of the things he told me about was the delay at getting the emergency escape hatches opened once the evacuation call had been made.

matblack: I'm sorry to tell you that, on this occasion, I flew with ...........................................BA!

theskyboy: 'Just because passengers haven't been briefed on the operation of an overwing exit, doesn't mean they wouldn't be able to open them' That may well be true as far as getting the door open is concerned (eventually), but when seconds count, I would suggest to you that actually, it DOES matter a lot.

Maybe someone from the CAA or FAA might like to comment as to the 'official position' regarding the occupants of emergency exit seats?

TKR
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Old 6th Apr 2008, 00:18
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TKR You are right and I have seen this too often to count. My plan is to get a seat close to the exit and then, if unsuitable folks are in the way, to trample them down. I am not joking.

If the airline did not get back to you (Customer Service in ALL modern companies are created to not get back to clients) then I suggest writing to the CAA. Now, I know that the CAA are as much use as an elderly couple with a broken leg in an exit row when the Evacuation Call is made ... but if the CAA do not give you satisfaction, you can write to your MP.
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Old 6th Apr 2008, 00:53
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Late Reply - sorry

Hmmmm - looks like I missed out answering this one: Can only plead workload as I'm presently in AKL training.

Certain exits, usually overwings but can be any exit where there is no crew member seated, are classified as "self-help" exits. Passengers seated at such an exit must receive a briefing from a crew member as to the safe and correct operation of that exit. The briefing must include instructions as to how to assess outside for hazard prior to opening, and how to re-direct if that exit is unusable.

If such seats are unoccupied, passengers must be moved into adjacent rows, in order that they can be briefed by the crew. However, if by moving passengers, the aircraft would go out of trim, clearly it cannot happen. The smart move would be to brief the nearest pax on the exit operation, and instruct them to proceed to that exit for completion of their duties if an incident takes place.

There are strict rules governing the allocation of seats in an exit row - the interpretation of those rules is to some small degree subjective and is massively complicated for all involved by the sale of those seats by airlines. All I can tell you is that I've never knowingly flown with unsuitable pax seated in such seats, and regularly move those that I am uncertain about.
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Old 6th Apr 2008, 09:02
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The only time I fly in the emergency exit row is when I travel with easyJet.

Without fail, I have received a briefing.
 
Old 6th Apr 2008, 09:56
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Flew Virgin Blue in December and heard the very detailed instructions for the second time in over +20 years of flying thru Australia-Canada-USA- roughly a flight a year. No frequent flyer but I'm usually be sitting in close vicinity of the wings. Usually never a peep about what is expected,maybe I don't hear it but...
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Old 6th Apr 2008, 16:15
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TightSlot

Are you saying that the airlines have a legal responsibility to only allocate emergency exit seats to 'fit and able' people?

If that is the case, then I will take the matter up with BA once again, and insist on a responce this time.

Would you be so kind and advised us all here how you yourself would deal with someone who was 'unsuitable' ?? On one occasion, when a young child was occupying an exit seat, I questoned the cabin crew as to her suitability and was told that I was not to worry, because in the event of an emergency, the cabin crew would take control.

I have no doubt that they would, but when push comes to shove (literally!) I do not want to put my life in the hands of someone who is probably not up to the important job in hand.

TKR
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Old 6th Apr 2008, 20:16
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Are you saying that the airlines have a legal responsibility to only allocate emergency exit seats to 'fit and able' people?
Yes, absolutely. The subjectivity arises as to how 'fit and able" is defined.

The list of unsuitable occupants is ssentially as follows (there are some minor airline/national variations).
  • No Children
  • No Obese
  • No Disabled
  • No Prisoners in Custody/Deportees
  • No Infants
  • No Elderly/Frail

Dealing with unsuitability? Requires tact and diplomacy and also a firm approach - but you do it. Sometimes I have swapped pax around for take-off and landing only, allowing them to occupy such seats in the cruise. Ultimately, if I get attitude and refusal, I inform the Captain and we go nowhere until it is resolved.

Done carefully, and with sensitivity and empathy, it is rarely a problem.
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Old 6th Apr 2008, 21:56
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TightSlot

Very many thanks for the explanation. I shall put pen to paper tomorrow and inform BA of what happened on my flights to and from Dulles, and enquire as to why they allow the seats to be booked on-line, clearly by 'unsuitable' people. I will of course keep this thread updated (assuming I get a reply!)

Thank you
TKR
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Old 7th Apr 2008, 05:23
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another emergency exit was occupied by a couple who barely spoke english!

Is speaking English a legal requirement? I very much doubt it.
 
Old 7th Apr 2008, 10:29
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Whenever seated at an overwing emergency exit on a short/medium haul flight, I have always been briefed by cabin crews on western airlines/major carriers about that fact. Long-haul flights do seem to be different though, and I do not recall the last time I was briefed at an emergency exit seat crossing the atlantic, I think Air France did last time though?

As a frequent flyer I have noticed an increasing trend in the last 2-3 years or so of unsuitable passengers (elderly/huge/children) being seated at Emergency Exit seats with no action taken by cabin crew to intervene - and I belive this is solely due to the selling of these seats at a premium by certain airlines, even some legacy carriers do it now. I think that the "business" of selling off these seats at a premium is a safety issue and should be stopped by the aviation regulators worldwide. Any airline that does this is not interested in your safety onboard the flight, money is more important to them...

Regards SD.
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Old 7th Apr 2008, 12:56
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SD, were there cabin crew stationed at the exits for take-off and landing? Long-haul aircraft (B777/A340 etc) usually have crew seated at the over wing exits, as they tend to be doors, not hatches. I imagine there is no requirement to brief pax if crew are stationed at the door.
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