Viral Arrest Video: Exit Row Passenger Handcuffed For Refusing To Assist Crew In An Emergency

On most planes, the best spot in coach is the emergency exit row. Those usually have plenty of extra legroom, because there’s supposed to be enough space for passengers to make it through the row and out the exit door easily in the event of an emergency.

If there are two exit rows together, the first one usually doesn’t recline – so that it can’t block the exit path. Sometimes the armrests are fixed in place, but that’s not true of all airlines and aircraft. I like 17C and 17D on American Airlines Boeing 737s – the second exit row aisle seats, plenty of space and moveable armrests.

There’s a basic deal, though. You reserve the better seat but in the event of an emergency you’re on the hook for assisting the crew.

Not everyone is allowed in an exit row. The FAA doesn’t permit anyone under 15 years old to sit in one. They presume that a younger child may not physically be able to open the exit door in an emergency. (Strangely, you’re still allowed to be drinking in an exit row.)

At the beginning of the flight, cabin crew are required to perform an exit row briefing that goes something like this,

You are seated at an emergency exit. In case of an emergency, you will be required to operate this exit. Are you willing and able to assist?

The crew has to get a ‘yes’ from each passenger, or else they must reseat the passenger elsewhere in the cabin.

  • Everyone just says yes

  • No one ever thinks they’ll actually be required to assist

Basically, 99.9% of passengers accept the deal of assisting in an emergency in exchange for sitting in an exit row – or pretend to. And then there’s this woman flying Frontier from Charlotte…

She’s asked if she’ll assist in an emergency – and her reaction was oh heck no.

Oh, I’m not going to save anybody. If something happens, I’m going to save myself.

That’s probably true for a lot of passengers. But they say yes. She did not. Events escalated, and police were called. Everyone was forced to deplane, and she was arrested. Here police are escorting her off the aircraft.

@travelwithtia23 When keeping it real goes wrong. Irrate lady refused to deplane, because of her non compliance and disrespect towards the flight attendant. We all had to deplane and she was then arrested. #travelwithtia #travelwithtia23 #blackvloggers #fyp #travel #traveltiktok #xyzbca #viral #traveltok #vacaciones #vacation #budget #budgettravel #tsa #tsaprecheck #airport #selfcare #airplanemode #clt #frontierairlines @Frontier Airlines ♬ original sound – Travel With Tia

The best part of the video has to be where she… calls her attorney.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. By tomorrow, she’ll have a free lifetime pass on Frontier, a personal apology from Barry Biffle, and a guest of honor at the next Frontier Board of Directors meeting.

  2. Either:
    1- these people don’t think ahead and remember there’s a +100% chance this will end up on video.
    2- these people think ahead and know there’s a +100% chance this will end up on video.

    Either way, there’s something very wrong with them.

  3. Am confused as in the video she had agreed to help crew in an emergency (or says she had agreed).

    Just as easily could be a FA power tripping over someone she didn’t like based on this video alone. Would be interested to see what the other passengers said and whose version they backed.

  4. Does she have her Lawyer on speed dial?? Jeff Foxworth was right. You can’t fix stu–d

  5. All of the videos start too late and don’t show what initially was going on. That being said, giving your opinion about the flight attendant doing a job poorly is not likely to end well. I feel sorry for the other passengers who were delayed.

  6. I didn’t watch the video yet but I’ve always wondered if on these budget airlines that Nickel and dime you for everything, couldn’t you just say yes, but I charge a $35pp fee for each passenger assisted. If the airlines have a right to profit off of everything, can’t you?

  7. “And her shirt say God on it!” Best line.

    I recognize the ground personnel having flown Frontier a bunch of times out of CLT. I’ve seen the ramp supervisor (who came on, in the yellow reflective shirt) deal with a difficult passenger before… he does a good job (also very friendly with helping families disassemble strollers and all that).

    I threw in the towel after 20 years in the airlines. I got sick of crap like this. That airplane is private property. You will get off if asked to and if you don’t, well, it certainly isn’t going anywhere with you on it.

  8. I fail to see where she refused. Al I see is that she agreed to what the FA asked of her.

  9. I just looked at the passengers and immediately thought Spirit or Frontier
    Not that others don’t get on the other carriers that are obnoxious
    Feel sorry for them as they don’t have good people skills and probably bad mentors if any
    Sad really sad

  10. The unfettered power of these flight attendants needs to be stopped. Give a flight attendant a “look” he/she doesn’t like, and it can lead to federal charges. And heaven forbid you actually call one of them out for bad service, and you’re toast. It is literally the only service industry position where the workers have that kind of unfettered power. The one who belongs in prison is Sara Nelson.

    If she did indeed refuse to agree to assist in an emergency (and I’m not convinced that she meaningfully refused), the non-confrontational thing to do would have been to try to reseat her. I suspect that many would have liked her exit row seat. Escalating to this level should have been the last resort.

    I’d happily represent this woman who was victimized by a Frontier Airlines FA’s power trip.

  11. What a treat it is to fly Economy since the pandemic. Nothing surprises me anymore except how travelers are pointedly clueless, self-centered, and obnoxious. (This goes for FC too.). When I’m flying, I am now just grateful when there is no incident, no police called, no zip ties, or fecal matter in the aisles. Pretty low bar.

  12. Actually, when white folk say they’ll assist in an emergency, they really mean it. The reparations crowd is only in it for themselves. Who knows what Joe’s imported crowd would do.

  13. Too many passengers and airline employees seem to struggle with knowing when to stop digging themselves into a deeper mess for no good reason.

    Onto a comment above:

    Willy’s racism and xenophobia keep delivering…. comments. But what else to expect given the “white folk” mind-reading skills and self-appointed spokesperson for “white folk” skills on display in the comment above.

    Is Willy hosting the next KKKlan meeting, busy with the Psychic Friends Network scam, or both? Inquiring minds want to know.

  14. I don’t understand, why is it breaking the law to refuse to assist? They could’ve just reseated her and everyone would’ve been on their way.

    Flight attendants even SAY “if you’re unwilling or unable to assist, we’ll reseat you.”

    Or at least they do on normal airlines. I’ve never flown Frontier.

  15. This headline is misleading. I don’t think anybody would EVER be arrested for not agreeing to assist, as Mr. Leff’s clickbait headline suggests. She most likely refused to move to a non-exit row seat, which most likely escalated to her refusing to leave the aircraft. This most likely resulted in her removal from the aircraft with a trespass charge.

  16. There are certain people who feel that they are entitled. She is showing her “entitlement” mentality. I hope that the airline will prosecute or at least ban her from ever flying on that airline. Congress needs enact a national “do not fly” list and to boost the penalties for refusing to obey crew instructions. The other thing is, what the hell does her 4 year old grandson have to do with anything? One can fix ignorance but stupid is forever.

  17. I am a fairly large chap and once flying on a UA 50-seat CRJ found myself in an aisle, exit row. The last seat to be occupied was adjacent to mine and as the final passenger boarded, there was more than one suppressed giggle. The late boarder looked to be a professional basketball player – nearly seven feet tall and built robustly.

    He prised himself into the window seat, and we spilled out over each other in some considerable discomfort. I asked the FA if I could swap seats; she asked a few folks who politely declined the offer.

    However, when she asked if I would be willing to assist in the case of a misadventure, I said “No” … she then said that I would have to move from the exit row, and I shrugged and agreed. At that point, she directed another passenger to swap.

    He was not really amused, but ‘dems de breaks.

  18. All I see is the woman insisting she agreed??? In which case the situation could have been easily deescalated….the crew is supposed to look for solutions, not create problems. One thing for sure, the Captain should not have gotten involved. On the ground his job is to let the Station Manager handle it…at the least it was that way at the Airline I retired from.
    Blown away by the stupid, racist comments on here by people that don’t know what really happened

  19. To be clear, it appears the Captain made a PA with only the FA’s version to go on. Then inserted himself into the middle of the problem making it worse. The Station Manager had the perfect opportunity to deescalate when the passenger said she agreed, but the Captains PA made that impossible.This is a good example of why the Captain is supposed to let the Station Manager deal with it. The Captain should support the FA. But he does it by letting the Station Manager handle it.
    Very poorly handled by the crew. Again, the crew is paid to solve problems, not make them worse. You can certainly make a case that it was the crew that inconvenienced the passengers as much as anything.

  20. The captain has final authority. The video does not show when the passengers seated in the exit row were first briefed by the white female flight attendant. The black female flight attendant went to the exit row to help explain one’s responsibilities when sitting in the exit row. Once a passenger says that they are not willing to assist in an emergency, then that person has to be reseated. There is a limited amount of time to exit an airplane. The video does not show the first flight attendant who was responsible for briefing the exit row. The second flight attendant tried to help explain the situation.

  21. Ok, so she made some silly comment before the video starts, but then walked it back?
    We take back all we said

  22. @Neal Z. I AGREE – its a power trippin FA

    The PAX got in trouble by asking for the FA'”s name

    At the very beginning of the video you hear her say “she don’t want to give us her name (the other FA).”

    If the Captain jumped in on the ground (or the air) – he should’ve at the very least listen to both sides of the story (and Pax sseated around – but far to often they just back the FA.

    Perhaps its time to start. Making FAs wear body cams. -bur Sara Nelson would never let that fly.

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