The thing about sitting in the exit row, besides the legroom, is the briefing one gets before the plane takes off. “Are you willing and able to assist in case of an emergency? I need an audible yes,” the flight attendant says. Of course I say yes, hell yes (I am not losing this seat), but I am lying because somewhere in their speech about exit row responsibilities they told me I would stand on the wing and assist others out of the plane.
In case of an emergency, in case I am actually alive after the plane crashes, I am willing and able to rip the 40 lb. door off the plane and throw it out. I will be willing and able to get all of those friends and family members I am travelling with out of the plane too. But after that, to expect me to stand on a wing full of fuel ready to blow is insane. Whenever the flight attendant reaches this point of their speech, I can only think, nobody is going to do that, nobody is going to be that calm. It’s comical and I might even laugh or let a smile flash across my face. The serenity the flight crew and the airline’s safety publication try to bring to the situation is comical.
Another responsibility of those fortunate enough to sit in the exit row is that we get to determine if the exit is safe and if it isn’t we are supposed to stand there with our arms crossed on our chest like we are going down a water slide and say, “This exit’s blocked.” We are supposed to say this over and over again and point in the right direction to exit the plane. It is much easier for me to imagine someone standing at the exit in this situation and saying, “We are all fucked. We are all so fucked,” than it is for me to see it going the way the flight attendant so lightheartedly describes it.