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Business travelers know that one of the most desirable airline seats is an exit row.


On most planes, sitting in an exit row means significantly more legroom so that, in the event of an emergency, passengers can more easily escape.  It also means that the passenger in the row in front of you cannot recline their seat into your face, making it all but impossible to work on your computer.  On some models of the Boeing 737, the seat by the window is especially desirable because there is no seat in front of you.  On a long flight, that seat is to die for if you have work to do.

Part of the ritual of sitting in an exit row is that you must verbally acknowledge to a flight attendant that, yes, in the event of an emergency, you are willing to assist the crew by following  straight forward directions and open the window exit.

On a recent United /Continental Airlines flight from Newark to Dallas-Fort Worth, I was sitting in the aisle seat of the exit row of a Boeing 737-500; not much extra legroom but the seat in front could not recline so I grabbed it. Per regulation, a flight attendant asked the woman sitting in the prized exit row window seat whether she would be willing to assist in the event of an emergency.  At first she seemed puzzled and then thoughtfully asked how much the window weighed.  About forty pounds she was told.  “Would you reseat me, I just had a manicure at the spa and I don’t want to break a nail.”

For the businessmen listening to this exchange there was a moment of stunned silence followed by a chorus of kind souls generously offering to swap seats with her.

I really enjoyed the extra legroom.  We arrived safely.  So did her manicure.   

© 2012 John Gregory Self

To book John G Self for your group, contact Kathleen Sullivan.  He is an entertaining and dynamic speaker who finds sories of hope, irony, surprises and good humor in all of life, from the board room and shopping malls, to the church pew.