I’m So Dumb: I Accidentally Just “Downgraded” Myself Out Of An Exit Row

Filed Under: Travel

This has to be one of the dumber things I’ve done on a plane. I’m flying from Toronto to New York today on an A320, which is just a short 90 minute flight gate-to-gate. I was booked in an exit row aisle seat, though was a bit scatterbrained this morning, as I often am. I’m not really an Air Canada frequent flyer (this is actually my first time flying them in economy), so when I boarded, I sat down in what I thought was seat 18C, an aisle seat in one of the exit rows.

I quickly opened my laptop as I was in the middle of finishing something prior to boarding, so I wasn’t at all aware of my surroundings. About two minutes later a lady came up to me and said “excuse me, are you in 19C?”

I noticed I wasn’t. “I’m supposed to be in 18C, I’m really sorry, I’m not paying attention.”

“That’s fine, we can trade.”

“Okay, if you don’t mind…”

That was nice of her, I thought.

About 30 seconds later I thought to myself “man, this is a tight exit row, how are they supposed to evacuate people through here?” I looked over to the window, and saw that the two rows in front of me were in fact the exit rows. I had been so focused on my laptop that I hadn’t even realized the lack of legroom, or what had just happened.


Since it was only a few seconds later I was going to ask for my seat back, but since I had already agreed, I figured that wasn’t nice, and I’d pay the consequences of my decision.

Fortunately this was just a short flight, but I can’t believe it took me several minutes to realize I wasn’t in an exit row. Oops.

  1. LOL. Must be one of those days….

    @Dan It’s allowed and sometimes boarding can be quite lengthy, even for an A320. It probably baffles US airline’s minds when Cathay can board a 77W in under a half hour.

  2. Happened to me on a JAL redeye flight. Was searching around in galley for a lavatory after waking up ! 😛

  3. @ Dave – please – under an hour?
    I was on ANA in February. Full 777-300 NRT-IAD. Boarding was posted at 10:10 for a 10:40 departure. Boarding started right at 10:10 and we pushed from the gate, with all 300+ pax on board, a few minutes early. Amazing. And they cant even board a 739 within 30 minutes here. Crazy.

  4. I get the aspect of remaining productive while travelling. I also typically work throughout my flights.
    But the fact that you were working during the boarding process is, in my opinion, ridiculous. What could possibly be so important that you needed to work during those 10-15 minutes while people around you are getting seated, stowing bags and getting settled? Working on a laptop while flying is one thing. Working during boarding is quite another. #Solipsism

  5. @ Dan — I take 200+ flights per year. Usually I’m in my seat for 20-30 minutes before the door closes. That’s 70-100 hours of productivity. I’m not harming anyone by doing this and move just as quickly as anyone else, so I’m not sure what the issue is? I understand if you choose not to work during that time, but I do, and I find it to be highly productive.

  6. @Dan,

    Why would it be a problem? It’s not like he’s disturbing anybody. In fact I’m quite sure the lady who got the exit row seat appreciated his working 🙂

    More seriously, I do the same, I find that I’m very productive for doing boring quick tasks that I’d normally procrastinate on.

  7. You are a business pro. You’re the master of meetings, timelines, and deadlines. That’s why you rent from National because only National lets you choose from any car in the aisle and go.

  8. @Jason I did say under “half” an hour…

    @Alvin LOL what’s there to review for a flight that’s in the air for 45 minutes?

  9. Not that you were assigning blame, but she may have truly just been doing it for your convenience and didn’t notice the emergency exit.

    My immediate reaction when I am in her shoes is almost always to ask the person if they just want to switch seats.

    Most people aren’t flying nerds and don’t care where in economy they sit for a 90 minute flight. Equally possibly she was quick on her feet and knew, but I’d give her the benefit of the doubt here.

  10. Yea would have been kind of lame to ask for the seat back. You sat in the wrong seat and then agreed to switch so it would be really scummy to try to switch back at that point.

  11. Happens to the best of us @Lucky. Honest and easy mistake to make (done it before myself).

    At least you’re not one of those types of people that gets on a plane and looks utterly confused and can’t use logic and reasoning to find their seat; constantly looking at the row numbers and their boarding pass, going past their seat and then backtracking “upstream” against those still boarding. I never have fully understood how this could be so hard for some people to find their correct seat and how it happens on so many of the flights I take.

    This reminds me of the time on a Christmas Day flight many years back on a CO 757 and I had the aisle seat. Some guy was in my seat next to his wife in the middle seat and the window was empty. Lets just say the guy was literally one of the dumbest people I’ve ever encountered because he was insistent that the “A” seat was the aisle despite the guide above the row even having a window painted next to “A” and a man painted next to “C”. I held my ground till he started yelling at his wife for booking him a different seat to which I said I’d take the window. It was Christmas and it wasn’t worth it to put up with this guys fun Christmas attitude. Dumb as rocks.

  12. Happens to the best of us! Just be glad this was such a quick flight!! You didn’t pay extra for the exit row did you?

    On another note, I see from your Instagram that you were recently at Fogo Island Inn. Since your blog post about it, I have been mesmerized. If you have the time and energy, I would love to read a blog post about it! That being said, you deserve some “personal” trips where you don’t have to report all the details, too, so don’t feel obliged by any means.

  13. Must have been a true Canadian… being sweet and nice and cooperative while knowingly swindling…

  14. haha I love the way she noticed before you did and said we can just trade.

    Ahhh well it was just a short flight.

  15. That person thinking to herself ‘Must be a newbie who doesn’t know how nice his assigned seat is!’ lol

  16. Flying into LGA?
    Big mess in Terminal B if you want to get picked up by UBER, Lyft &co, you have to take a bus first, then find your driver in an open lot.

  17. AC out of LGA used to mostly just fly 2 2 configured Embraer’s it was the main reason I always flew them on this route, with extra leg room in the first 5 rows. In double checking before posting this comment I see that they seemed to have gotten rid of ALL their Embraer Jets out of LGA and replaced them with the A319. What a drag. I loved the 2 2 configuration and the feel of the Embraer. Guess AC needs to compete with WestJet on this route and so have replaced the fleet with the greatly inferior A 319. Hate that so much. Might as well fly Westjet/Delta now that AC has given up their competitive edge.

  18. As a Flight Attendant, I see people on he laptops during boarding all the time. As long as you stow it for take off and landing, we’re all good!

  19. It helps to look at the row numbers before sitting down, greatly increases the chances of sitting in your assigned seat.

  20. I noticed it for quiet a while now, just didn’t want to mention it and hurt your feelings. But now you know too.

  21. Didn’t you have to pay for the exit row seat? (Since AC doesn’t give free exit row seating to *A elites – only their own)

  22. I had a full argument with a lady last year who was adamant I was in her seat. She was however, reading the boarding time on her ticket thinking that was her seat number! She still didn’t get it when I tried to point that out! I was also with my family, in the bassinet row so there was no way I was going anywhere!

    Flew the short DOH-BAH flight on Qatar Airways last week. They had to make an announcement for people to sit in their actual seats. So many people think its a free for all!

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