If you choose to sit in the emergency exit row, you leave your shoes on for takeoff and do not place belongings under the seat in front of you. I feel like that is the missing angle in a discussion over alleged racism on easyJet in which a flight attendant tried to eject two black men for “huffing” at her in a discussion over putting on their shoes prior to takeoff.
Passengers Revolt On EasyJet Over Exit Row Shoes Controversy
I’ll admit, I love to take my shoes off before takeoff, even though 121pilot, our resident pilot on Live and Live Let’s Fly, strongly advises against it. And while you can get away with that in most seats, the emergency exit row is different.
If you’ve ever sat in an emergency exit row, you know that a crew member will approach you prior to takeoff and confirm verbally that you are willing and able to help in the event of an emergency. You are also invited to review the safety card to ensure that should something go wrong, you will be a help and not a hindrance.
In that spirit, someone who chooses to sit in an exit row should be prepared to assist. If your shoes are off, you are not prepared. One, because you will stumble to put them on. Two, because even if you do not put them on in the event of an emergency, others may stumble over them as they exit the aircraft.
An easyJet flight from London (LGW) to Malaga, Spain (AGP) returned to the gate after two men “huffed” at a flight attendant when asked to put on their shoes prior to takeoff.
The crew member responded by telling the pilots to return to the gate so the “disobedient” passengers could be removed.
@easyJet attempting to remove 2 black boys from the flight for huffing at a member of the crew ! Absolutely disgusting. We’ve been delayed 2 hours and counting! Police on board @Gatwick_Airport #gatwick #lgw @SurreyPolice @TheSun #Easyjet pic.twitter.com/hkC3Aa4rb4
— LG (@LPGLDN) August 5, 2021
Only when the flight returned to the gate, passengers mutinied and stood up for the two men. In the end, it was the crewmembers who ended up leaving the flight, though not because of their behavior but because they timed out (at least according to easyJet).
EasyJet does not discriminate against any individual. Safety is our highest priority and there is nothing to suggest that discrimination played any part in the issue onboard.
The primary responsibility of our crew is for the safety of everyone onboard.
Our crew must ensure that safety requirements are followed by all passengers and as part of their role must check prior to take-off that everyone is compliant with these.
This is particularly important for passengers seated in emergency exit rows where crew ensure there are no loose items during take-off.
One passenger onboard said, “It seems so dramatic to call the police and have a plane with 160-odd passengers turn around and be delayed for someone huffing at them.” Here’s the important distinction: if they just gave the flight attendant attitude, then indeed it was a dramatic overreaction. But if they refused to put their shoes on or ignored the flight attendant, then I believe they should have been removed…or at least re-seated out of the emergency exit row. Notice the man pictured above is not wearing his mask either.
Even though there is virtually zero risk that an emergency will occur and and even smaller chance that passengers will actually be needed to assist in case of an emergency, you wear your shoes if seated in the emergency exit row. Period.
So this story leaves me with a question: did the passengers huff and put their shoes on or huff and refuse to put their shoes? That makes all the difference.
The plane finally took off again, though not before the captain warned the cabin:
“If anyone doesn’t listen when the new crew arrive, you’ll be removed and arrested.”
It’s good to stand up for justice. We just need to make sure that we are standing up for justice and not bad behavior…
(H/T: View From The Wing)