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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 29, 2009 at 4:00 PM

JetBlue controversy

Flight attendants complied with federal regulations

I read with interest the article in Thursday’s Seattle Times about Talat Tahaira being removed from an exit-row seat on JetBlue [“Hearing begins involving FAA, JetBlue and local woman,” NWThursday, May 28]. The FAA regulation governing exit-row seating — or how it impacts this case — was never mentioned in the article.

The rule is very clear about passengers seated in exit seats being able to use both hands, both arms and both legs, as well as having the ability to maintain balance and be strong and flexible enough to operate an exit and any slide mechanism. This, of course, in addition to being able to speak English and comprehend any instructions/commands provided by flight attendants.

The exit-seat rule was promulgated on the strict basis of safety of all passengers, in addition to the in-flight safety professionals (the flight attendants) who have the primary responsibility for such passenger safety. When and if the assistance of exit-row passengers were needed in a non-routine situation, there can be no debate regarding physical abilities and/or the comprehension of instructions provided.

In Tahaira’s case, there were other seats available to allow her to lie down. If she were allowed to occupy the exit-row seats, those safety-conscious JetBlue flight attendants would have extreme difficulty in getting Tahaira out of the seats if an emergency situation would present itself.

Flight attendant Leah Stevens’ comment that “all I was doing was my job” is absolutely correct, and to state otherwise is a false interpretation of the federal regulation and the vital safety role of flight attendants.

— Jeanne Elliott, Northwest Airlines, Bellevue

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