Learning to Fly, But Not in an Emotional, Tom Pettyesque Kind of Way

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Last I checked, no one really wants to sit in the exit row of an airplane. Or at least, I don't want to. Let's count the myriad reasons why:

  • It's got a crappy view. The glory of having a window seat is being seated near, you know, a window - but when that window overlooks the wing of the plane, you may as well be sitting anywhere else. Like, on land. The view from an exit row window isn't a pretty one, unless you dig witnessing the occasional avian ingestion.

  • The row is wider. While this may mean more leg room for some, for me it means no way to curl up into a little knees-on-the-back-of-the-seat-in-front-of-me ball, which is my preferred flight position. And yes, I am a grown woman. What of it?

  • The steward(esse)s stop the drink cart smack in the middle of the cabin as they distribute beverages down the aisle. You know what's smack in the middle of the cabin? The exit row. This is particularly cruel when you need to use the restroom but must wait for the beverage cart to pass you - but only after drinks have been carefully poured & cheerfully delivered to evvvvveryone in the four rows in front of & behind you. And no, I don't want a Sprite, why are you taunting me?! And hey, gimme those pretzels.

  • You actually have to pay attention when the steward(esse)s give the seatbelt/airbag lesson. And by "have to," I mean, "they'll stare you down heartily unless you do." This delays the start of in-flight napping by at least 15 vital minutes.

  • Annnnd of course, the kicker: You actually have to know how to use those airbags & the window chute-slide-thingies in case of an emergency! What's worse, you have to agree to help other people before you help yourself, which means sure & fiery death - though I think most airplane crashes result in sure & fiery death, no matter the order in which their victims go... Still, I don't want to be known, in after-the-fact news reports, as that weakling who couldn't get the window open or, worse, who jumped out the window without so much as a "good luck" to the elderly people & helpless children clambering to get out ahead of her.

So listen up, AirTrain: Trying to charge me $20 to sit in an exit row just because there's more leg room? You can use all the fancy marketing terms you want, but I know a scam when I see one, folks. If I wanted to fly comfortably, I'd just take the train! Wait, that doesn't make sense. You know what I mean. 

Please note: I found a way around this charge by not checking in online or at a kiosk & instead sweet-talking a real, live employee at the Air Tran counter who gave me the last window seat for free, despite the fact that it happened to be an exit row seat the company deems Andrew Jackson-worthy. So I didn't pay for my seat, but I still wanted to complain, because that's how I roll. Luckily for me, the plane did not crash, so it's OK that I didn't pay attention, yet again, during the airbag how-to.


  1. I'd hate to actually put a dollar value to the amount of time, money, and effort I've put in over the years into getting an exit row seat... but just the cash part is easily into the thousands of dollars.

    I'd much rather sit in a middle seat in an exit row, than any non-exit row economy class seat.

    Of course I'm 6'5", so that extra leg room means a lot to me. AirTran's policies on exit row seats are actually a lot better, fairer, and cheaper than many other airlines. One airline tried to charge me $98 to get exit row seats on my flight from BWI to Austin... instead I got to the airport ~4 hours before my flight and spent about ~3.5 of those hours begging and pleading. I barely worked.

  2. I love how you write about things we often think about (I hate, hate anything but the window seat) but never really talk about. Very Seinfeldian :)

  3. I don't like the exit row seat for the same reason you do! I dont want the extra room!!! I like curling up. :)

  4. You make me laugh :) I love this post, because the second time in my life that I flew? (this time was also the last, so far) I was in the exit row. And let me tell you... Propellers? Not quiet. ANNOYING. Also, this is probably unrelated to the exit row, but the pressure in the cabin caused my gel pen to explode all over my newly purchased Tim Burton memorabilia book! grr!

  5. I hate the exit row seats, mostly because a) it is pressure in case i really do have to help out and b) i don't like to pay attention to the flight attendants either. I can't believe airlines CHARGE for these tickets. That seems totally ridiculous.

  6. you are hilarious girl! i don't like sitting in the exit row either cuz of the pressure IN CASE i really did need to help out, i never pay attention in the beginning (but only b/c i fly almost every other week so i've heard it a million times) and yea, bad view!!! ;)

  7. Haha, I love that you and I think the same. Before I even started reading, my first thought was "I'd have no seat in front of me to put my legs up against"

  8. LOL but don't they always give you the option of saying you don't want to be the Exit Row person and re-seat you?

  9. haha, i feel like a large hulking person saying this, but HOLY COW do i like the extra room in the exit row. and i'd rather be in charge of heaving open the exit door if it means i can use it sooner! :)

  10. My hubby LOVES the exit row but that's because he's 6'3 and needs the extra room. Me? I hate it for all the reasons you stated. That and I am a NERVOUS flier, I do not need the added stress!

  11. I like the exit row seats because I'm claustrophobic, but they almost never give them to me because I'm small and would apparently have trouble getting the door open.

    I know this is going to make me sound like a total crank, but those of you who curl up in a ball and put your knees on the back of the seat in front of you? I can guarantee you're digging your knees into the back of the person in front of you. And I promise it's annoying. If you must curl up, put your knees against the side of the plane.

  12. I just flew to Iowa in an exit row seat and it was glorious. It was super tiny little plane and I'm not sure it would have been to handle it had I been stuck in a normal seat the whole time. Plus, I let Andrew sit on the window side so that he could hold the responsibility of saving the day.


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