Should Exit Row People Be Allowed to Drink on Flights?

US Airways Premium Wine Conundrum White BlendSo, I managed to accidentally find myself on the plane with Keri.  And we all happen to be in the exit row because none of our upgrades cleared.

In keeping up with the Vegas tradition, we decided to take a fun approach to the flight.  So we’ve all ordered rounds of the half-bottles that Keri reviewed prior.

As we argued over who got to pay for this round, the flight attendant laughed that we were going to be a fun group.

Then I started thinking.

At the beginning of trips, the flight attendant gets really serious with the exit row.  They need a verbal yes that we are willing and able to operate the exit door.  We need to be of a certain age and we need to able to handle whatever strength is needed to open the door.

But there’s no requirement that we be sober.

None of us are getting drunk on this flight, but we are definitely having some fun.   At what point is it too much fun?  And if an emergency occurred, would this impair our ability to help?

I caveat this with the fact that Keri and I have inhuman high tolerance levels for wine, so I’m not actually afraid of us being unable to help in an emergency.  But what if I was the type of person who couldn’t handle my wine?  Would I be more of an impediment than help?

Or are these pre-flight requirements just done as a show and have no bearing on what happens in an emergency?

What do you think?  Should I have been able to order a half-bottle of wine for myself?


About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. How many times in an emergency have flight attendants needed the help of the passengers? It may be one of those things that’s said but never needed.

  2. Amol (@PointsToPointB)

    I flew the 2nd exit-row on my flight out of LAS yesterday and noticed that the young woman in the 1st exit-row window could barely lift her bag into the overhead. Meanwhile, the doors weigh 32lbs. Just an observation.

  3. The way I see it exit row seating is one of two things:

    1. A serious responsibility that the extra foot room is the reward for agreeing to fulfill in case of emergency.
    2. An extra bonus luxury perk.

    If it’s #1, then airlines shouldn’t be charging people for the privilege of doing it, but you really shouldn’t be drinking in it either. If it’s #2, then let the corks fly!

    The problem is airlines like to say it’s both, which is having one’s cake and eating it too.

  4. I was on a transatlantic flight when the emergency klaxons went off. It was very interesting, to say the least.
    The flight was smooth and level at that point so I could see and feel the rush of the confused cabin crew as they ran to positions.
    Had there been a flight problem they would not have made it there. I consider those in the exit rows to have accepted exyta resposibility and they should be prepared.
    The flight was silent and routine after that. No announcements were made. After landing one crew mwmber explained that a crew newbie hit the klaxons instead of cabin lights.

  5. The flight attendants should have a responsibility to make sure the people in the exit row are sober. I’d never even thought about it before I read this blog post.

  6. Personally, I feel safer in a flight where alcohol is prohibited. If flight attendants and pilots are not allowed to drink alcohol during the flight, then passengers shouldn’t drink as well (or at least have a maximum of 2 glasses or something like that to prevent drunk people from doing stupid things up in the air.)

  7. I think someone’s reaction in a true emergency is completely unpredictable to an onlooker (and maybe even ourselves). Grandmothers lift cars to save children, tipsy people will suddenly become sober, while others may freeze in a state of shock unable to understand directions. The best the airline can do is ask if we’d assist and hope that we’d comply if needed.

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