The Korea Herald


Airplane emergency exit seats to be assigned to uniformed personnel first

New seating scheme starts July 31

By Park Jun-hee

Published : July 13, 2023 - 17:17

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Airplane emergency exit seats of four Korean airlines will be initially assigned to uniformed personnel, including police officers and firefighters, in an effort to prevent the reoccurrence of an incident in which a passenger opened an emergency exit door before landing, the ruling party said Thursday.

During a consultation meeting between the ruling People Power Party and the government, Rep. Park Dae-chul, the head of the party’s policy committee, said his party has agreed to introduce the new seating scheme starting July 31.

“The purpose of the emergency exit is for the flight crew to quickly and safely help passengers get off the plane during emergencies,” Rep. Park told reporters after the meeting.

The uniform personnel who would be prioritized for the exit row seats are firefighters, police officers, soldiers and airline employees, he added.

The seating arrangement will be applied to 94 seats in 38 aircraft operated by the country’s four airliners -- Asiana Airlines, Air Seoul Co., Air Busan Co. and Aero K Airlines Co.

With the new measure set to come into effect, airline companies will inform passengers about the revised seating chart to minimize confusion when they purchase tickets and select seats online. Staff at airport check-in counters will also verify the passengers’ identities.

In addition, emergency exit seats will also be initially sold to uniform personnel buying tickets on site.

The idea was floated after a series of mishaps where passengers had tried to open emergency exit doors in flight.

In May, one passenger opened the emergency door minutes before landing. The door was reportedly opened for eight minutes until the plane reached the tarmac. In June, an 18-year-old attempted to open the door an hour after the plane took off.