231 Erwin Road

My experiences as a Northern transplant down in Chapel Hill, NC, 2005. And now my experiences back up in NYC.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Emergency Exit Row

I choose the emergency exit seat during check-in at those handy little kiosks. I was hoping that the emergency row would provide me a little more leg room, but on this plane, I get the same amount of leg room as the chumps sitting behind and in front of me. The exit row on this plane has a clearly outlined doorframe that would appear to allow the door to be sucked out of the plane. I thought about what would happen if the door was sucked out of the plane during mid-flight. (I will frequently think of the worst case scenario for my given situation and plan out in my head how I will survive. I guess I watched too many action flicks when I was a kid.)

So for this worst-case scenario -
The door is about 2'x 4'. So if it was to be ripped out, and my seat belt was ripped off, I think I could spread myself out diagonal across the hole, (think of a toothpick across the top of a beer bottle trying to be pushed into the neck) that should stop me from flying out, right? But what if the force is so great that it literally sucks me out and bends my body in weird and inappropriate ways? Could I grab the seatbelt next to me and hang on? Would the old man in front of me reach back and help hold me in? How much force is excreted though a hole in a plane wall?

I put those thoughts aside and opened up the instruction manual to read (via international pictures) what to do in the cases of both an emergency land landing, and an emergency water landing. Reading though the pamphlet, I finally realized what they expect 'able and assistable passengers' to do in these rows. I had always assumed (incorrectly) that flight attendants would want you to stay around the burning plane and help shuffle people off. It turns out that the reason they don't want handi-capp people in this row is that you have to be physically capable of removing the exit door (40 lbs) and lifting it out of its frame. You are then either supposed to rotate it sideways and throw it out the plane, or move it to an empty seat behind you. At that point, you can get the hell out of the plane.

Well, wasn't I relieved. The door opens INWARD. There's no chance of it being sucked OUT of the plane. I'm safe, for now.


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