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 Requirements

Federal regulations require that a Customer select a non-exit seat if he or she cannot or does not wish to perform the following functions:

  • Locate the emergency exit
  • Recognize the emergency exit opening mechanism
  • Comprehend the instructions for operating the emergency exit
  • 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
  • Pass expeditiously through the emergency exit
  • Assess, select, and follow a safe path away from the emergency exit

In addition, to comply with federal regulations a passenger seated in an exit seat must have sufficient mobility, strength or dexterity 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, deposit on nearby seats, or maneuver over the seatbacks to the next row or out the opening objects the size and weight of over-wing window exit doors
  • Remove obstructions similar in size and weight to overwing exit windows
  • Reach the emergency exit expeditiously
  • Maintain balance while removing obstructions
  • Exit expeditiously

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
  • Have the ability to read and understand instructions related to emergency evacuation provided by Southwest in printed or graphic form
  • Have the ability to understand oral crew commands
  • Have sufficient visual capacity to perform applicable functions without the assistance of visual aids beyond contact lenses or eyeglasses
  • Have sufficient aural capacity to hear and understand instructions shouted by Flight Attendants without assistance beyond a hearing aid
  • Have the ability to adequately impart information orally in English to other passengers

A passenger seated in an exit seat must not:

  • Have preboarded
  • Use a portable oxygen concentrator
  • Require a seat belt extension to fasten his or her 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 he or she performs one or more of the applicable functions