Emergency Exit Seating Requirements


The following requirements were created in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration Regulations to ensure the safety of everyone onboard the aircraft.

Emergency Exit Seating Information

Responsibilities of sitting in the emergency exit row.

Federal regulations require that a Customer select a non-exit seat if they can’t or don’t want to perform the following functions:

  • Locate the emergency exit
  • Recognize the emergency exit opening mechanism
  • Understand how to operate the emergency exit
  • Able to operate the emergency exit
  • Assess whether opening the emergency exit will increase the hazards to which passengers may be exposed
  • Follow oral directions and hand signals given by a Crewmember
  • Stow and secure the emergency exit window so that it will not impede use of the exit
  • Move quickly through the emergency exit
  • Assess, select, and follow a safe path away from the emergency exit

Emergency exit row seating mobility requirements.

In addition, to comply with federal regulations a passenger seated in an exit seat must have sufficient mobility, strength, or flexibility in both arms, hands, and both legs to:

  • Reach upward, sideways, and downward to the location of the emergency exit
  • Grasp and push, pull, turn, or otherwise manipulate mechanisms
  • Push, shove, pull, or otherwise open the emergency exit
  • Lift out, hold, move on to nearby seats, or maneuver the size and weight of over-wing window doors over seats to the next row
  • Remove obstructions similar in size and weight to over-wing exit windows
  • Reach the emergency exit quickly
  • Maintain balance while removing obstructions
  • Exit quickly

Emergency exit seating qualifications.

A passenger seated in an exit seat must:

  • Be 15 years of age or older
  • Have the capacity to perform the applicable functions without the assistance of an adult companion, parent, or other relative
  • Read and understand instructions related to emergency evacuation provided by Southwest in printed or graphic form
  • Understand oral crew commands
  • Have sufficient visual capacity to perform applicable functions without the assistance of visual aids beyond contact lenses or eyeglasses
  • Be able to hear and understand instructions shouted by Flight Attendants without assistance beyond a hearing aid
  • Adequately impart information orally in English to other passengers

Emergency exit seating disqualifications.

A passenger seated in an exit seat must not:

  • Have preboarded
  • Use a portable oxygen concentrator
  • Require a seat belt extension to fasten their seat belt
  • Have a condition or responsibilities, such as caring for small children or pets, that might prevent them from performing the applicable functions
  • Have a condition that might cause the person harm if they perform one or more of the applicable functions