Ironically, Avianca really impressed me yesterday when they refused to seat me in the exit row on my flight from Lima to Bogota. During check-in with Latin airlines, I can usually use my *very* limited Spanish to state my name, where I am traveling to, and that I am not checking any bags (thus avoiding speaking in English). Any further questions, though, will likely be returned by a blank stare.
I asked, in English, if I could be seated in the exit row. The agent said something to me in Spanish to which I responded with a blank stare. The agent tapped on her keyboard a moment, said there were exit row seats available (757 aircraft), but then refused to assign me one, "Because you no speak Español."
I have to admit, I was impressed by that answer. The English skills of the crews on the Avianca flights I was on were limited and even though I know how to open the door during an emergency on a 757, I would not have been able to comprehend crew member instructions if they were given in Spanish.
So I took my aisle seat a few rows back and decided not to fight the agent.
More than once I have seen passengers who cannot speak English seated in exit rows on United Airlines. Usually, all FAs require is a nod or a "yes" and you are good to go in the exit row. It would be wise if all airlines took a more careful approach to exit row allocation, as Avianca seems to do. I bet that would provide a lot more "safety" to passengers than our smurfs do.
(My apologizes for another cheap shot at the TSA)