Is Charging to Sit In an Emergency Exit Row Ethical?

As we all know, in the past few years airlines have instituted a healthy menu of fees that aren’t likely to go away anytime soon. While they may originally have been a well-meaning attempt to avoid bankruptcy when oil prices skyrocketed, they remained in full effect after prices returned to normal levels. In fact, they expanded to encompass the entire spectrum of an airline’s offering. From fees to board the plane first, to fees to print a boarding pass, air travel has become an a la carte operation.

One of the more interesting fees that has cropped up is the fee to sit in an emergency exit row. For an extra $30 or $50 you can stretch those long, sexy gams of yours for the entire flight, and, in theory, arrive at your final detestation more rested than your fellow passengers. (At least you’ll be better prepared to make a mad dash to be first in line at the luggage carousel with your hamstrings nicely stretched out.)

Along with the obvious comfort, does the ability to purchase a seat in an exit row give you a slight advantage should there be an emergency landing? In theory, emergency exits will be utilized should the aircraft end up landing in some body water instead of on a proper runway. Again, in theory, the passengers sitting in the exit row will be first out the door.

Oh sure, there is the added responsibility of getting that door open and assisting the other passengers, but that’s secondary to getting your own self to safety in a jiffy.

I recall when sitting in an exit row was actually an annoyance. Remember, the seats don’t recline. In fact, I would often book an exit row, giving up the ability to recline in order to stretch my legs. Not many people ever thought of this. I liked my little system.

Now, I’d have to pay for the very same seat.

Is this a further example of the 1% verse 99%? Well, probably not. The 1% are in First Class anyway. But it is an example of an industry that’s taking advantage of its customers in an admittedly bizarre manner.

Instead of charging for an exit row, how about you charge a little upgrade free to sit in an Adult Section of the plane, far away from a crying baby? Or a small fee to get a guaranteed overhead bin? I’d pay $5 to avoid that nervous walk down the ramp, wondering if they are going to snatch my new roller bag away at the last moment, and send it off to the dreaded cargo section where it will undoubtedly lose half of its life expectancy.

Want fries with that flight?

Sure you do. But it will cost you $50 extra.



(Photo originally appears on the awesome site:


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