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Bet This Never Happened When YOU Got An Exit Row

by SharonKurheg

Air flight is usually a relatively similar situation for everyone. But every once in awhile, someone’s experience may be a little more, shall we say, “personalized.” This was one of those times.

Y’all, I am short. No, not just short…I mean REALLY short. Like, just over 4’6” short (I used to be just shy 4’7” but I’m shrinking. Isn’t that special?).

Between being so pint-sized and inheriting my mother’s “good skin,” I’ve looked younger than my age for pretty much my whole life. When I was 19, I was still able to consistently get into the movies for kids’ prices if I wanted to, and people thought I was in my 20s until I was way into my early 40s.

Meanwhile, thanks to my dad’s side of the family, I went gray early, so nowadays people don’t tend to think I’m all that much younger than my years, which, frankly, is a nice change of pace. But when we were getting onto our plane not long ago, something happened that I hadn’t experienced in YEARS…


We had been assigned exit seats. Personally, I don’t care if we get those or not; it’s not as if I need the legroom or anything. We usually won’t pay for exit row though, so it tends to be a non-issue. But Joe is tall so when they gave them to us for free, I didn’t say anything because I knew it would be more comfortable for him.

We were flying from MCO to LGA and as it turned out, our plane was switched towards the last minute so they had to move our seats. It was still an exit row; just a different row number. The scanner caught the issue when we were getting ready to board the plane, so it beeped when I gave them my boarding pass.

“BEEEEEP!”

“We need a new boarding pass, Nicole,” said Joshua, who hadn’t given me any eye contact.

“It’s gonna be a long boarding process,” he continued, sighing. I’m not sure who he was saying that sentence to, but he still had not looked at me. I assume a bunch of people had already gotten moved around in Groups 1 through 4 before us because of the plane switch, and the scanner was giving a bunch of them a red Xs, much like mine, as they tried to board.

Nicole gave Joshua a new boarding pass for me. Still no eye contact, but he must have noticed my height, as he said, “Thank you! Oh wait, she can’t go in the exit row. She’s under 15.”

Me: “WHAT?!?!?”

He finally looked at me. His facial expression changed completely, from bored to, well, a little shocked.

“Oh! How old are you? NO! Wait! I…I…I mean, you’re over 15, right?”

I didn’t know if I wanted to kiss him or kill him, to be honest. It had been a LONG time since someone thought I was that young. But after several decades of people thinking I was younger than I was, it had gotten old. Still was.

As am I 😉

I let him know that I was more than 3 times the age of a 15-year-old, I was fine to sit in the exit row and don’t worry about my height; I could do whatever was needed in the case of an emergency…I work out and I’m a badass.

He giggled nervously at my lame joke (the bag boys and girls at the supermarket laugh harder when I use that line when they ask if I want help putting my bags into my car) looked even a little more embarrassed, and let me on my way.

So I got my exit row – complete with window seat (thanks, Joe!)

But really….15?!?!?!?!

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

2 comments

derek February 18, 2020 - 1:08 pm

Sorry to disappoint, but very short people shouldn’t sit in exit rows if the exit is a plug type door without a hinge. The current 737’s have a hinge. They swing up. Some older planes have a plug where you have to carry the door and throw it out (recommended rather than bringing it inside. For those, very short people or weak people should sit in the exit row.

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SharonKurheg February 18, 2020 - 2:27 pm

The few times I’ve sat in the exit row, they’ve asked if I can lift (I think they said) 35 pounds. I can, easily (at least as a dead lift and not over my head. I can dead lift up to 50ish pounds).

That being said, when the FAs have seen me in the exit row, none of them have ever questioned/double checked my being there. Frankly, if they have any reservations about someone like me sitting in the exit row, I’d rather they say so.

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