#484 Getting the Emergency Exit row on the airplane

You don’t want to sit next to me on an airplane.

Chances are good I’ll start drooling on your shoulder, accidentally crank your headset volume, or chat your ear off with boring anecdotes while you attempt to stare dreamily at cloudscapes out the window. Yes, you’ll politely nod and smile while I go on for half an hour about my terrible cell phone plan or the bloating I’ve been feeling lately. Honestly, if you end up sitting beside me on a plane I’ve got just one thing to say to you: Sorry.

Nobody can Party Save you now.

Now, I’ve only seen one successful strategy for avoiding the torture that is My Company. I took a flight recently where the woman next to me cocooned herself into a sensory deprivation chamber of headphones, blankets, and earplugs as soon as we sat down. She no doubt sensed my impending chat attack and defended against it immediately, even elbow-snagging the armrest for good measure.

Since the two of us happened to be sitting in the Emergency Exit row, I therefore became solely responsible for busting the door open if our plane crash landed. Yes, the flight attendant coached me on emergency moves and I nodded with steely eyes and firm lips while Snoozy Samantha snored on beside me.

After the plane took off I sat back in my chair feeling like the hero of the flight. After all, it could all come down to me. Sure, the harsh, unforgiving Andes might crunch our plane but they would never crunch my spirit.

As modest payment for accepting this critical role I scored some extra legroom to stretch out and relax. While everyone else had their knees in their laps, I was free to leg around freely, keeping my muscles warm and ready in case the going got tough.

Now, as if all that wasn’t good enough — the hero status, the legroom, the babes – there’s also one more big perk emergency exit row folks get for sitting there. They get out first.

Yes, when the inflatable slide pops open into the river or the flashing red lights shine a smoky path into the fiery forest, we are the Emergency Exit door kicker-openers …  running out first … leading the way … and saving the day.


Thanks to your support and votes 1000 Awesome Things is accepting an award for Best Culture Blog today at The Webby Awards in New York City.

— Email message —

“Hi Neil, About twelve years ago I signed up for Big Sisters and was matched with Tiffany, an 11 year old creative spirit. We bonded instantly and spent many hours together doing awesome things. We then lost touch for a couple of years, but Tiff called out of the blue one day and we reconnected like there had never been a gap – (those types of friendships that last years of of space are truly awesome). Tiff has grown into a beautiful young woman and today I watched her graduate from college with tears of pride in my eyes.  I gave her The Book of Awesome as a present, and I tucked comments into the pages that rang true to me. I tucked money into the one about finding money in coat pockets. I added in a few words about how great it was to find money in books as well.” – Sandy

Photos from: here, here, and here

38 thoughts on “#484 Getting the Emergency Exit row on the airplane

  1. Last week on my flight, I got the window seat on an exit row. I also got the entire row to myself! I guess the person who was suppose to sit next to me missed the flight! It was GREAT!

  2. I’m pretty sure any of us would consider ourselves lucky to sit by you on a plane!

    The only time this has ever happened to me was on a 20 minute, between-islands flight in Hawaii. But I’ll take it.

    Even though I almost peed myself when I was read the list of potential duties, I figured the good outweighed the bad. And I was so right. Extra leg room: ALWAYS awesome.

    1. Sometimes it’s fun to be stuck next to someone in “chat attack” mode (I agree it would be fun to sit next to you). Often in this situation, I can’t resist the urge to invent a new identity, recreating myself like a character in a book….

  3. The long-legged me thrives for the flights where I get in the emergency exit row. My need for it has become so obvious that strangers on a plane often remark how difficult it must be to sit “like that,” referring to the wretched angle in which my legs are placed.

    Yes, exit rows (when the free trip to first class is just out of reach) are luxury.

    1. You should use those long legs to drop-kick that short-legged peanut sitting in the emergency exit seat. They probably SAID they could open that window, but could they really? It’s not worth the risk. In the interest of everyone’s safety, it is hereby declared that Long Legs Cary deserves a seat in the EER.

      1. It’s funny. At my friend’s college, those that have met me refer to me as Cary Long-Legs.

  4. Oh I do consider this awesome because I’ve been on like 3 flights recently (over water) and I always scope out the emergency exit asile for 1 to see if the people could really get the door open if it came down to it and to see if i could score a token leg room seat.
    :3 Good ol’ emergency exit aisle.

  5. By the way … congratulations again on the Webby — hope you have lots of fun at the awards ceremony! :)

  6. Haha you make everything sound awesome. When I read the title I wasn’t really thinking *Yay awesome*

    This did make my night though, great way to end a project with deadline tomorrow. (is there yet an article about that one? The flow that one gets the night before the deadline?)

  7. When I flew from Dublin to New York in 2002, I asked for the exit row seat on the way there, and got it, Yay! Off to America with extra legroom!

    Continental must have stored my preference, since they gave me one on the return leg. Which was an overnight flight, and the exit row seats in that plane (B757) didn’t recline. No sleep till Dublin = not so awesome.

  8. Congrats on the Webby!!!!

    I’m sorry, but I cannot relate to this one. I have never been on a plane, but I’m sure its awesome. Extra leg room is always awesome.

  9. Last year I had the emergency exit row at the window ALL BY MYSELF. Now that was mega-awesome!

  10. It’s so awesome because it’s so very rare. Much like a four-leaf clover. I have found 2 four-leaf clovers in my lifetime but have never scored the emergency exit row on an airplane. *sigh*

  11. Aw, this lets me tell my favourite random act of awesomeness story!

    The very first time I took my daughter on a flight, we experienced the most awesome kindness! The wee one was about 10 months old, so I was flying with her on my lap, a 5-hour flight. We had an aisle seat in the middle of the plane beside a businessman who didn’t look too happy to be beside a baby. I was wondering how Jr. McSquirmypants was going to do…


    Just after they closed the doors, a very kind woman seated a few rows ahead at the bulkhead (extra legroom, but no emergency exit) popped out of her seat and asked the flight attendant if she could switch seats with me. You see, she was at the window, on the bulkhead with an EMPTY seat beside her, and she actively gave that up so my child and I could have extra room on the long flight. How awesome is that??!

    We had an excellent flight. The wee one curled up on her very own seat for a nap, played on the floor in front of our seats – it was beautiful. Thanks kind lady! You are awesome!!

    1. That is SO. AWESOME. How sweet of that lady to not only take note of your situation but also to sacrifice her own leg room. I love nice people. :D

  12. If your plane actually does crash, you will be the first crispy-fied body that they pry from the wreckage, so you go that goin for you. Assuming the plane does not crash, the legroom is worth the added “responsibility”. Great post. Looking forward to the next!

  13. The webby is the real awesome for today! Awesome! Your imagined heroism is hilarious, too. Hey, love your project because it reminds me how not to live in cliche. I found this really bizarre quote involving mother hens and tapping that relates to living an awesome life. Enjoy! http://www.livewithflair.blogspot.com/

  14. Love this post! Love your steely-eyes and firm-set mouth.

    Will add that I once lucked out so hardcore on a flight, I may never get another good seat again: it was the day after my daughter’s grad, for which I hosted the before and the all-night after party (ie, serving hors d’ouevres AND the next day breakfast). You can imagine how little we both slept. Well, she from the partying and me from the incessant white-noise of forty ebullient and drunken grads.

    But we were leaving that night for a grad trip to Europe — and we lucked out and nabbed 2 business class seats!! No extra cost. To EUROPE from Toronto. Bliss. Except that we were both so exhausted, we sipped the glass of champagne they offered us, then promptly fell asleep for the duration.

  15. I love getting the emergency exit, but I am ALWAYS scared I will have a sudden urge to push open it open halfway through the flight. I actually have to sit on my hands! Now, I just prefer the aisle seat, where I can stretch my legs into the aisle if the need arises.

  16. I’ve been giving the book as all my graduation gifts with the inscription: this is a book of 1000 awesome things, 1001 if we include you, and we do! I have a supply in holding. Thank you!

  17. A couple years ago, I flew from Michigan to Las Vegas. The in-state connection I flew was a little puddle-jumper, and I got my long legs crammed into a tiny seat in the middle of the plane. But the long leg from Detroit to Vegas was on one of those planes where the forward door (where the jet bridge meets the aircraft) was between first class and coach. My beautiful seat was in that first row, right by the door. I literally had about five feet of space in front of me, and there was only one other person in the three-seat row with me. Sure, for the first ten or fifteen minutes, as people came on board the plane, I was getting tripped over every once in a while, but after that, for three and a half hours, it was like I had my own little room on the airplane. Best flight ever! (And I was first off the plane at the end of the flight…)

  18. Nobody broke my eardrum on a plane yet. I only went on two flights though ever. I would move my seat from you probably :)

  19. Good company to me is talking about all the things herein…attitude, gratitude, optimism, courage, genuine feelings; awareness of people, places and things that matter; about life and survival all over the world and beyond. Poems, metaphors, antedotes…all these things…everything about Awesome, “In the light of the deep”…DIVINE!
    To score an airplane seat beside a beautiful spirit + intellectually stimulating + award winning + cultural award winning + author + shining star for the planet + conversationalist~A TRUE HERO~AUTHENTIC~AWESOME YOU, to me, would be the blessing of a lifetime! You’d be saying things to yourself like, “What was I thinking when I wrote post #484? Now I know how ‘it’ feels!” to the attendent, “Can I get a triple…heavy on the sauce, no thanks on the rocks”…(politely whispers), “this ones got enough for the two of us! Oh, and while you’re at it, send a few to the pilot too, on THIS napkin”…*in bold reads- “Please pretend crash!”

    *Thank you for sharing Sandy and Tiffany=D

  20. strongzz I’ve read a few good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to create such a magnificent informative site.

  21. Eight years I got that seat but I wasn’t an adult so they put me in first class and somebody else got my seat. Double the awesome!!

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