Exit Row Seating


Most of us are familiar with the emergency exit seats which is also called as the exit row seating in Aviation. As common passengers, we often request for the exit row seating for its space and comfort, but let me tell you it’s way more important than that. The CAR SECTION 8 – AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS SERIES ‘O’ PART VIII ISSUE I, 16th August 2017, Section 5A of Aircraft Act 1934 and Rule 133A of the Aircraft Rules 1937 state the requirements to be followed by the operators for exit row seating.

The definition of exit row seating goes as follows:
Each seat having direct access to an exit i.e. a seat from which a passenger can proceed directly to the exit without entering an aisle or passing around an obstruction.


Mishaps in commercial aviation are extremely rare, but when they occur, survivability is a function of many aspects relating amongst others to the design and construction of the aircraft and its interior and the operating procedures followed by airlines. Some of these aspects, in isolation, may seem small, but all are necessary elements to the safety of aircraft operations.

A critical prerequisite to survivability in many accidents/incidents is the fastest possible evacuation of the aircraft. Essential to this objective is the fastest possible opening of emergency exit doors/windows, followed by quickest possible movement of passengers through the exits.

In aircraft accidents in which decelerative forces do not result in massive cabin destruction, survival is determined largely by the ability of the uninjured passenger to make his or her way from a seat to an exit within time limits imposed by the thermotoxic environment. It is crucial that people evacuate quickly before heat, flames, toxic fumes, or an explosion kill or injure them. Seconds can mean the difference between life and death in the aftermath of a crash inasmuch as evacuation might be terminated abruptly by an explosion at any point. This CAR is therefore aimed to help quickest evacuation of aircraft in the event of an accident or incident.


So to sit on the exit row is a huge responsibility and to be responsible for so many passengers, it also comes with a list of requirements. Let’s check them out.

  1. The person should not be less than 15 years of age and should have the capacity to perform the applicable functions without the assistance of another person.
  2. The person should be able to reach and understand instructions related to emergency evacuation provided by the operator in printed, handwritten or graphic form or the ability to understand oral crew commands.
  3. It’s also mentioned in the requirements that, The person allotted the exit seat should not be invalid. I’m assuming that they mean that the person should not be physically or mentally handicapped.
  4. a passenger occupying an exit seat may use, if called upon, 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.
    • Follow oral directions and hand signals given by a crew member.
    • Stow or secure the emergency exit door 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.

Responsibilities of the operator/airline

  1. Each operator shall include on passenger information cards, presented in the language in which briefings and oral announcements are made by the crew, at each exit seat.
  2. Each operator shall include on passenger briefings a request that a passenger identify himself or herself to allow reseating if he or she –
    • cannot meet the selection criteria set forth.
    • Has a nondiscernible condition that will prevent him or her from performing the applicable functions.
    • Does not wish to perform those functions.
  3. Each operator shall make available for inspection by the public at all passenger loading gates and ticket counters at each airport where it conducts passenger operations, written procedures established for making determinations in regard to exit row seating.
  4. Before taxi or pushback crew member should verify that no exit seat is occupied by a person who may be unable to perform the applicable functions.
  5. Each operator shall include in its passenger briefings a reference to the passenger information cards.
  6. Each operator shall ensure that the passenger occupying the exit row seat is properly briefed by the cabin crew regarding the emergency exit procedures. Wherever applicable, the weight of the emergency exit shall also be specified.
  7. In order to avoid any problem of re-seating in the aircraft after boarding, the exit row seats should be allotted to passengers who can perform the functions described in the CAR and willingness of passenger is obtained before allotting exit seat to him/her at the time of check-in.


I hope through this brief article I was able to give you a little insight into the importance of the exit row seating. Next time you travel by air, try to appreciate and connect to what an exit row means.
Thankyou for reading

For further info feel free to checkout the DGCA website. Happy landings

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