Every frequent traveler knows that the best seat on a plane (besides first class) is the exit row. There, you get over five inches of legroom, which can make or break a flight. However, sitting in this highly sought after row comes with restrictions and responsibilities as one JetBlue passenger learned the hard way on yesterday. RELATED: I Just Flew in JetBlue’s New Mint Seats and It Was …

Christina Gonzalez from Fox 11 Los Angeles just did a story titled: “LAX JetBlue passenger says he was unjustly kicked off flight.” Jermain Graves said he was flying between LAX and Fort Lauderdale.

Jermain told Christina in a Zoom interview that he had just taken his seat in the exit row: “I get on the plane, I get prepared, I put my earplugs in and I went to sleep.”

This is where Jermain made a costly mistake. You can’t treat the exit row like any other row because as an exit row passenger, you have a major responsibility since you need to know what’s going on. You definitely can’t sit in the exit row, put earplugs in and go to sleep before the flight attendant does their safety checks. One of the checks they make is asking the passengers in the exit row if they are willing and able to help in the event of an emergency.

Christina obtained video from other passengers and interviewed Jermain’s seatmate who said they had just sat down next to him and were asked by a flight attendant if they would be able to assist in case of an emergency. “When it was his turn to reply, he was kind of sleeping with the earphones and then he pulled it off and replied yes.”

Jermain said: “She woke me back up and told me I need a verbal yes from you that you’re willing to assist in the event an emergency. I’m like yes.”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that the flight crew, especially the pilot, have all the power on an aircraft and they can kick passengers off the plane. So, sometimes you need to kowtow to them like you’re at the DMV trying to get your driver’s license for the first time.

Jermain told Christina, “I was sitting on the emergency row, I’m like yes. Everybody said yes. I put my earplugs back in, I went back to sleep. I was woke back up by a supervisor telling me I need to come get off the plane.”

In the video, Jermain can be heard talking to the ground supervisor,  asking why he is being asked to get off the plane. The supervisor said, “the issue is they want you off the plane.”

Although one of the other passengers interviewed by Christina said it was total nonsense for them to kick him off, Jermaine learned the hard way that once the flight crew says you’re off the plane, there’s no turning back.

It’s best just to grab your stuff and argue later because you don’t want the police to be called, as the supervisor threatened, or be banned by the airline for good. FYI: Here are JetBlue’s emergency exit row requirements. Note that it says: “Airport customer service crewmembers will make the final decision in determining who will be seated in exit row seats, even when seats have been assigned prior to arrival at the airport.”

Christina finished her report (you can watch the video below), saying that Jermain left the flight voluntarily and was put on a much later flight to a different city. He had to drive from that city to Fort Lauderdale to get his luggage and got home the following day. I’m guessing JetBlue flew him to Miami, which is 26 miles from FLL but in South Florida traffic, especially during Spring Break, is a nightmare.

YouTube video

As with almost every story, not everyone agrees with the situation. Here are a few user comments on the video:

@celebrityrog: REQUIRED BY LAW, flight attendants must ask and receive a verbal YES or NO confirmation if they are willing to assist while seated in an exit row, in addition to DIRECT EYE CONTACT when saying it. Flight attendants will ask the same question to each passenger individually, look you directly in the eye, and you’re required to make eye contact and say YES or NO. Now… I am not sure if this is the law or not but I’ve been asked by flight crew while seated in the emergency row to refrain from using any devices, including headphones for personal music, etc, during the safety instructions (live/video) and to review the safety guide as well. After that, you’re free to put in the headphones or take a nap.  I’m kinda shocked no one at jetBlue actually explained this, offered a different seat or in the very least, put him on the next available flight not one later in the evening. Seems someone at the airport was having a bad day and probably misunderstood the situation.

@OCP74: That guy is lying. Even his lawyer said he didn’t say “yes.”

@Crismodin: When other passengers start recording on your behalf, there’s something wrong.

I’ve flown over three million miles and for a good number of them, I was sitting in the exit row. I’ve seen fellow passengers get reseated from the exit row to a regular seat for various reasons like they didn’t speak English or they were too old or couldn’t hear well enough to assist in the event of an emergency. The latter happened to my dad on one of our trips.

I warned my dad, who wore a hearing aid, before we boarded, that the flight attendant would come by before takeoff and ask if you’re willing and able to help in an emergency. They need a verbal yes. Of course, he started reading the newspaper and wasn’t paying attention and didn’t hear the flight attendant.

They reseated him immediately in a nearby row, which is really all they needed to do with Jermain if the flight crew felt he wasn’t able to fulfill the duties of an emergency row passenger. TIP: If you can’t get the exit row, sit near it because this happens more often than you think and the flight attendants always ask for volunteers to switch in the rows nearby since they’re in a hurry. I’ve scored a seat with extra legroom this way more than once.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever seen something like this happen on an airplane? Leave a comment!


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