Delta Is Going To Flip Out If You Wear A Neck Brace In The Emergency Exit Aisle

Ned wears a neck brace when he flies, not because he’s injured or disabled, but because he prefers it to one of those floofy neck pillows. This didn’t sit well with a Delta flight attendant who was intent on keeping disabled-looking folks out of the emergency exit aisle. The attendant wouldn’t leave Ned alone, even after Ned demonstrated his range of mobility and explained that the brace was from a minor car accident thirty-three years ago. Ned managed to hold onto his seat after a chat with the senior flight attendant, but the original flight attendant later came back, “got in [Ned’s] face ñ literally, just inches away” and complained that Ned had “bucked his authority.”

Ned writes:

In early January, 2008, I was traveling via Delta Airlines from my home base in Las Vegas to Atlanta, connecting to Washington DC, where I was going to stage a new-book launch at the National Press Club. My seat was in the emergency exit row ñ at my request, because of the extra leg room ñ and after I took my seat, I put on a soft-collar neck brace, which I use in lieu of a pillow to support my head while in flight. Like most airlines, Delta’s seats seem to have been designed by Torquemada, and anything that adds to my comfort is a plus.

When a flight steward saw this, he informed me that I’d need to change seats, as someone with a handicap could not sit in the exit row. I’m not handicapped ñ this neck brace stems from being rear-ended in ’76, and I keep it around for flying and not much else. I explained this to the steward in reasonable terms, even taking it off and demonstrating my neck mobility. However, he was on a mission from God to purge the flight from evil handicapped men in emergency exit row seats, and would not be calmed. That the plane was full and the flight was long both motivated me to want to hang on to my aisle seat. After listening to this “gentleman” for way too long, I asked to speak to the senior flight attendant. Unlike this cretin, she was reasonable ñ I explained to her my situation and choice, demonstrated my mobility ñ and she told me to stay in my seat, but wait until after take-off to put the neck brace back on. She was so reasonable that I was glad to comply.

After take-off ñ in fact, I waited until we could all turn on our electronic devices again ñ I put my neck brace back on. A couple of hours later, during the in-flight movie that I was watching (at $5), the steward came back, manhandling the drink cart. When he saw me with the neck brace on, he went ballistic. He got in my face ñ literally, just inches away, and I thought I’d need an umbrella to avoid the spittle. He was furious that I had bucked his ëauthority.’ I tried to explain to him that I’d gotten his boss’s permission, and that he should back off, or at least check with her before he broke a blood vessel. That didn’t seem to please him, but he finally backed off after threatening me with unspecified dire results. Under my breath, I mumbled “son of a bitch” ñ and meant it ñ but even though he didn’t hear it, he figured out that it wasn’t flattering, and really went thermonuclear. He demanded to know what I said, and I informed him that it was none of his business.

Well, it took me about 45 minutes to get my blood pressure back down from low earth orbit, but eventually I calmed down and “enjoyed” the rest of the flight. As I was getting off the airplane in Atlanta, this guy avoided my gaze, but with a smirk. Moments later, I found out why when I was accosted by an “official” looking middle-aged woman with an official red blazer, a clipboard and an attitude. She said something like, “I understand there was a problem on the plane Ö” Since I was intent on making my connection (also with Delta) and because I’d just about had it with power-crazed minions who should have been treating me like a customer instead of a problem, I chose an unusual approach.

“Yes,” I said, “and I hadn’t intended to report it ñ I figured I’d just let it go ñ but since you brought it up, I’d like to file a complaint against that flight attendant who treated me so rudely.” I briefly described the nature of my complaint, and kept pressing her to give me the complaint form and get the name of the flight attendant, as I wanted to take this to the top. Suddenly, she got an emergency phone call and had to depart the scene. It clearly hadn’t gone the way she’d expected.

Especially since 9/11, there have been a small but annoying cadre of airline people who think they have real power over passengers ñ that they can use the threat of booting someone off the plane (or worse) to enforce things that are way beyond their rights. This isn’t the first (or the last) time I’ve been hassled on airplanes or at gates, and it isn’t the worst case, either, but it was the only time when I’d figured out a way of deflecting the problem. I thought others might want to consider the same approach ñ instead of submitting meekly, complain ABOUT them to proper airline authorities, putting them (and the system) on the defensive.

(Photo: bixentro)


Edit Your Comment

  1. wrjohnston19283 says:

    You lost my sympathy with the muttering of “son of a bitch” – you don’t want customer service to treat you badly – don’t treat them badly and give them even more of a reason to. I understand that he was being unreasonable about the neck brace – don’t give him ANOTHER reason to make your flight miserable.

    • Jim Topoleski says:

      @wrjohnston19283: Sorry but given it took him THAT LONG to curse, at that point he could have said it out loud and I would still have sympathy for him.

      He was given the ok by the stewards boss, and the steward came back to salvage their ego. At that point they ceased being a “reasonable employee” and deserved to be fired, forget about being called a name. You are wrong.

      • smileboot says:

        @Jim Topoleski: I do not usually agree with a facebook users. But a muttered “sob” is nothing, if he had raised his voice and said something about the stewards mother then i would agree he was out of line.

        • Dave says:

          @smileboot: Still using an “sob” phrase directed at a flight attendant is not exactly something you should do mid-flight. He had the support of the head attendant and could have filed a complaint upon arrival, but instead *almost* took a path of retaliation (aka unruly passenger).

          Inexcusable and unacceptable behavior by the flight attendant however.

        • Summer Shafer says:

          Well, I guess I should take my unintelligent Facebook using self out of the game. Apparently we’re all dumbing down Consumerist. Sorry about that. I’ll go watch some reality t.v. and drool on myself instead.

          • OMG! Con Seannery! says:

            @Summer Shafer: Are you any relation to Ethan Shafer, perchance?

            @smileboot: Don’t worry, man. You’re under hostile fire here, but the Anti-Facebook Army’s got your back!

            • Summer Shafer says:

              @OMG! Con Seannery!: Nope, no relation at all.

            • Mika Hutchison says:

              @OMG! Con Seannery!:

              Well since you seem to be putting yourself out there on this… Feel free to tell me why it’s okay to have preconceived notions about an individual simply because they use Facebook.

              • Cyberxion101 says:

                @Mika Hutchison: Just to play Devil’s advocate, that was explained at least once in the comments that came well before yours. And if you were a Facebook user, this would surely be used as an example of why they’re so reviled! Just kidding. :P

                That’s not to say that it’s fair or even remotely reasonable of these folks to deride a member simply by virtue of the avenue through which they post here, but this particular stereotype has real roots.

                Early on, Facebook users seemed to do nothing more than troll, and I would go out on a limb and say that it’s because of the disconnect between this site and their social-networking website de jour, but I digress. Why they did it is irrelevant. The point is that they did, and so Facebook posters became synonymous with trolls and ignorant douchebags, hense the lingering bias against folks from that corner of the internet.

                I would say that while it may be a bit unfair to require Facebook folks to prove their worth, it’s probably going to be the only way to put an end to the persectution. Or folks can stop taking it so personally. If a body knows that it’s worth more than those folks are giving it credit for, then wouldn’t it be better for everyone if they just ignored it and let the stereotype die?

                Or whatever. I just love to read what I type. I’m worse than any Facebook member ever was. Mwahahahahahahahahah and whatnot.

                • Mika Hutchison says:


                  I AM a Facebook user. I have a Consumerist-only account as well that I do not use though. It’s simply less complicated to log in through Facebook.

                  Given that Facebook has evolved quite a bit and includes quite a diverse group of people I think it’s about time people reevaluate their judgments. While I understand the point that you’re making… comments against Facebook users are complete stupidity and I think they need to be challenged.

          • Chongo says:

            @Summer Shafer: I do sometimes see more aggressive or trolling comments made by facebook users, however you are right. Its just weird to complain about something as simple as which interface you choose to connect to this site. Its as simple as saying someone’s comment is less worthy because they used their iPhone to type the message instead of doing it through a browser. If there was no little ‘f’ in your icon then no one would even know any better.

            And don’t be messin with my reality TV foo!

          • Shadowfire says:

            @Summer Shafer: Don’t forget to eat cheetos off your tummy…

        • Zak Robinson says:

          @smileboot:Isn’t it a little silly to dismiss (or at least differentiate) a person’s opinion simply because of the manner in which they choose to connect to the commenting system? Consumerist makes it a very simple and easy process for me to connect through Facebook and add input without having to make yet another account with another password to remember; it is a convenience issue. Anyway…

          As to the incident in question: my personal opinion is that there are no situations in which name-calling, let alone cursing, are ever really required, and there are few situations, if any, which are improved by it. I certainly understand the desire to vent frustration, and I would never blame anyone for doing so, but from a simple conflict-resolution standpoint, it cannot possibly help.

          • dvdchris says:

            @Zak Robinson: I think what we saw when this site first opened up facebook comments were numerous comments that were asinine and trollish; primarily made by facebook users that had not figured out or otherwise managed to put a picture on their facebook profile.
            This is starting to be balanced out by reasonable comments now being made by facebook users that have figured out how to put a picture on their profile.
            That’s my theory anyway.

          • dfwguy says:

            @Zak Robinson:

            50 years ago I might have agreed with you on “cursing”. These days your comments come across as self righteous.

            • Zak Robinson says:

              @dfwguy: I’m coming at the not-cursing angle from the simple realization that when someone drops an f-bomb or lunges a c-spear or… fires an s… uzi? at me, my blood pressure skyrockets and I am momentarily lose the ability to think rationally. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up on the streets of NYC or a trailer park somewhere that I’m *so* sensitive to it, but I can never handle someone cursing to me in actual anger. A friend, in silliness or whatnot, sure, but a stranger, and with tempers already high? It messes me up. I imagine that it might have a similar effect on others, so that’s why I think it is unacceptable in a business situation.

        • Aladdyn says:

          @smileboot: Not sure if you were joking but you do realize that calling someone a son of a bitch is in fact saying something about their mother? Its interesting how that expression has really lost its meaning though. I had a friend whose mother called him that once in anger, pretty funny.

          • bairdwallace says:

            @Aladdyn: That’s why he said “…if he had raised his voice…”, or that’s how I read it. As in, he said something about the attendant’s mother, but he said it sotto voce, so the attendant asked him to repeat it. He didn’t say something audible about the guys mother.

        • Mika Hutchison says:


          Why do I keep seeing comments like this? What, exactly, is wrong with someone who uses Facebook?

          I have an old Consumerist account that I signed up for quite a long time ago. Why is it that I automatically get respected less for using my Facebook account? Heaven forbid I like having one less bit of account information to keep track of. My god, I bet merely being on Facebook is chipping away at my intelligence as we speak.

          Moving on… If the same had happened to me I doubt I would have handled it as well as this gentleman. I don’t particularly appreciate getting ‘spittle’ on my face. The SOB comment seems pretty justified.

      • WhoAsked You says:

        @Jim Topoleski: Agreed! The attendant acted like a son of a bitch, and he got called out (I’m sure to the great amusement of other onlooking passengers), it was out of hearing range, obviously this a-hole shouldn’t be a flight attendant, he can’t let things go. If he really felt this was a security threat, he could have called in reinforcements – it wasn’t, and his boss didn’t think it was either. I couldn’t agree more with the OP’s conclusion that these airline powerhungry busybody nazi’s need to be reined in.

        I also couldn’t agree more that the gate, safely on the ground, and off the plane, is the passenger’s opportunity to calmly but firmly GET EVEN. If more of us did this, passengers would get more respect on the planes, because attendant bullies would know, realize they just might get their come-uppance later.

    • schiff says:

      @wrjohnston19283: Hows this for you – Fuck you! If you cant take the heat stay out of the kitchen. These flight attendants were clearly out of line, and you are too.

    • MercyEleusis says:

      @wrjohnston19283: Customer is always wrong, even after said rude employee’s super gives said customer the aye okay to use the neck brace, eh?

    • dfwguy says:


      So if the attendant is out of line one should just sit there and take the abuse? While there are always two sides, there have been too many instances of Delta crews acting like Nazis, which tends to make me favor the passenger. We are not there for the convenience of the airline. We are customers and should be treated accordingly.

    • katstermonster says:

      @wrjohnston19283: I would have been swearing a lot sooner, and I’m NOT a rude consumer by any means. This was after he was accosted by the same flight attendant several times, a muttered SOB is laughably tame.

    • jimconsumer says:

      @wrjohnston19283: So, the flight attendant is allowed to act like a petty SOB and treat this guy like crap, but he’s not allowed to respond in kind? Hogwash. Call a spade a spade.

  2. shepd says:

    And you are going to have the time to remove the neck brace if there’s an emergency and you need to open the door in a hurry, right?

    It *is* going to impair your ability to look around at things while you are wearing it even if you aren’t disabled–that’s the point of the device.

    • rdm says:

      @shepd: Agreed. And how is the staff to know whether Ned really *needs* it for medical purposes or not?

      • Vengefultacos says:

        @rdm: As he said… he *explained* why he had the neck brace on and demonstrated his neck had full mobility. Trust me, having had a slipped disk, if you have a neck injury that requires a neck brace, you can’t twist your head back and forth and not wince.

        So, now the staff knows what the deal is. The problem here is that the steward got pissy that his edict wasn’t meekly followed by the passenger.

      • MisterE says:


        I have no sympathy for the OP or Delta. I love it when asshole customers meet asshole flight attendants. It makes for interesting reading!

    • U-235 says:

      @shepd: Opening an emergency exit door doesn’t take a range of motion. It takes opening a door. Last time I opened a door, I certainly didn’t have to get a panoramic view of my surroundings to adequately operate it.

    • Jim Topoleski says:

      @shepd: its velcro! Its not like you are talking about something wrapped in 1000 layers of wrapping. You grab the front and PULL.

      Thats like saying the person in the emergency seat cant have a tray table down, because it will take them too long to put up. Did you even think before you commented?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @Jim Topoleski: Off topic, I know, but I have a question. If you’re in the emergency exit row, where is your tray table? If all of the other seats have tray tables that flip down from the back of the seat in front of them, are the emergency exit row seats the only ones with the funky weird side tray that are really hard to get up, but swing back in with such ferocity it might chop off a finger?

        • oneandone says:

          @pecan 3.14159265: I had one of those once: tray in the armrest. The top of the armrest flips up, and the tray is folded into it. There was a little latch to grab with your finger and pull it out.

          I was soooo excited about sitting in the exit row since I would have an enormous amount of leg room…. little did I know that the little area by the door was also where everyone congregated to wait for the bathroom. Not only did my feet get stepped on a few times (not painfully, but enough to wake me up and make me cranky) but I felt very exposed not having a seat or something in front of me. I guess I’ve been trained well and have grown too accostomed to the little cooped airline seat situation.

          Anyway, people who love exit rows, I’m removing myself from the competition for them. More chances for you!

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @Jim Topoleski: Which is why they don’t have tray tables in most exit rows….they have the little thing that folds out of the arm rest.

    • ovalseven says:

      @shepd: I doubt it. I just a piece of foam with velcro on it. I’ve worn one. You can still turn your head if you need to.

      It wouldn’t incapacitate anyone more than a conventional neck pillow, or maybe a sleep mask. Even earbuds could limit your alertness and reaction time. I don’t think the steward would have asked him to move if he used any of those things. I think it was simply the appearance of being handicapped.

    • pmcpa4 says:

      @shepd: Agreed. OP is in the wrong here. You have to be physically able to help people out of the aircraft in an emergency, and if you need to wear a neck brace, even just for comfort, no one is going to count on you to help.

      • pmcpa4 says:

        @pmcpa4: Also, why is this being posted a year and a half after the incident?

      • coren says:

        @pmcpa4: If OP was in the wrong then the head flight attendant wouldn’t have agreed with him, and even if he was in the wrong, a flight attendant getting in your face yelling at you is not appropriate whatsoever.

        • henwy says:


          The OP sounds like a douche in this case and the flight attendant was perfectly justified. If I saw someone in a neck brace in an exit row, I’d have tried to get him moved too. The exit row is _not_ a right. Hell, it’s not even supposed to be a privilege. As unlikely as a crash or emergency is, it’s a responsibility to the other people on the damn plane and the limitations for sitting there are well-stated. I wouldn’t want someone in the seat with a bigass cast on his leg either, even if he claimed it was just there for aesthetics.

          • coren says:

            @henwy: It doesn’t matter if he sounds like a douche – getting in someone’s face and yelling at them after you’ve been told their boss ok’d it is NOT justified.

          • Cyberxion101 says:

            @henwy: You’re the one person we can count on to call the OP a douche every single damned time, wholly independant of the circumstances.

            It’s like you actively ignore details because it wouldn’t allow you to revile folks if you payed them any attention.

            See, here’s the thing. Even if the flight attendant was right, he ceased to be when someone in a higher position of authority okayed the neck brace. Case closed. He had no right to take the matter further, getting in the OP’s face like he did. None whatsoever. And screw me if I think that the OP was entitled to be a little douchey given that his personal space was breached just so the flight attendant could act like he’s something special.

          • shadowkahn says:


            Unless the flight attendants are all dead, one of them should be the one opening the emergency exit doors. They’re trained for emergency operations on an airplane, and don’t want passengers screwing with their equipment anyway. After all, if you make an “emergency landing” because one of the 3 redundant hydraulic control systems goes down, you wouldn’t want some guy in the exit aisle deploying the (very expensive to re-pack) emergency slide when you were planning to just taxi to the gate.

            Even if we expected the emergency exit passengers to operate the airline’s equipment in order to Save Us All, once the guy demonstrated that the neck brace was not due to a disability, and that he could take it off and be no less-abled than anyone else on the plane, any passenger that still had a problem with it, would be rightfully classified as a mouth-breathing idiot, and I might extend a further request that they refrain from breeding for the good of humanity. No need to further dilute the intelligence of the gene pool.

            To the arguments that the neck brace is an extra step to have to remove before he can get to the door that he shouldn’t be messing with anyway, let us keep in mind that planes fly up in the air. It is pretty rare for a commercial airliner to have a survivable emergency that happens so quickly that there is no time to remove a velcro neck brace. Any emergency happening that fast would probably involve an in-flight explosion or breakup of the airplane, in which case the doors are redundant anyway.

      • snowburnt says:

        @pmcpa4: Reading comprehension on an elitist blog is going down-hill, this does not bode well.

        It was a soft neck brace, not like one pictured above for one thing. Also, it’s not “required” for comfort he just prefers it over the petri dish pillows on the flight and the terrible neck pillows everyone else wheres. You can just rip it off.

        But yeah, you must be right…when in doubt blame the victim and attempt to shred the story to pieces.

    • unpolloloco says:

      @shepd: Compared to the time closing a laptop, taking a neck brace off is quicker.

    • lehrdude says:


      He was sitting on the aisle…he wouldn’t have been the one opening the door anyway…If there WERE an emergency, he would have merely been the third person out the door.

    • MercyEleusis says:

      @shepd: Yes, because at 30,000 feet, you must remain vigilant to open up the emergency hatch at the drop of a hat. Never know when you might have to escape miles off the surface of the earth.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      @shepd: The OPs wearing the neck brace is akin to him buying one of those bucky bean travel pillows that you wear around your neck. The FA was over the line and power-tripping, and when he discovered his quest for ultimate superiority over the prisoners (passengers) on the flight had been thwarted, he went bat-shit. I think the OP showed incredible restraint, personally. I’d have done more than called the guy an SOB. Yes, it would’ve likely resulted in armed forces meeting me at the gate but hey…

    • Anonymous says:

      @shepd: Obviously a soft neck brace would not hender this man’s ability to move in an actual emergency. The brace is connected with Velcro. A quick snatch, and the thing is off. This attendant seems to have had a stick up his butt from the get-go and took it out on this guy who just wanted to fly comfortably on a long flight, which is often difficult. After he showed his range of motion and ability to move, that should have been the end of it. And I hope that chick in the red coat learns a thing or two as well.

  3. Joseph Macaulay says:

    The neck brace isn’t going to impair his ability to open the exit hatch in an emergency situation as much as the seat belt would. It would probably be easier for him to take off the neck brace than the seat belt.

    The flight attendant shouldn’t have been on a power trip. That is where the real problem is located.

  4. supercereal says:

    However, he was on a mission from God to purge the flight from evil handicapped men in emergency exit row seats, and would not be calmed.

    To be fair, anyone with a remote handicap probably shouldn’t be in an exit row, forced to assist passengers in an emergency. One’s normal mobility may not be indicative of their “emergency situation, everyone going crazy” mobility. I can certainly understand the initial request by the steward.

    Though the next steward going crazy seems a bit far-fetched as stated. If that actually was the case, I could definitely see a complaint in order. Though passive-aggressive name-calling isn’t the best way to reciprocate, either.

    • Matthew Berkhan says:

      @supercereal: Yeah, but he doesn’t have even a remote handicap. He has a 30 year old neckbrace he never threw out. I have a wrist brace from 10 years ago when I had some tendinitis, but my arm is perfectly fine now. Also, the next steward didn’t go crazy. It was the first steward returning, and becoming even more upset because the writer hadn’t obeyed him the first time.

    • Skaperen says:

      @supercereal: He is not handicapped. The neck brace is a comfort device. If you get the right one (proper thickness and density), it actually works better than a pillow when in a semi-upright position. Think of it as a pillow than stays with you.

      • frodoUnderhill says:

        @Skaperen: Agreed, a neckbrace can provide much better support than those stupid pillows filled with beans they sell for $20 in airports. I actually think wearing one is a great idea and I might try it next time I fly, just not in an exit row… (I was also rear-ended about 2 years ago- my neck is completely fine now)

  5. DashTheHand says:

    I remember a time when you could have the flight attendant kicked off the flight for being a douchebag instead of them having the authority to have you arrested if you didn’t do their mini power trip version of “simon says.”

  6. The_IT_Crone says:

    His behavior and the fact that he can’t understand why someone who needs a device for the physically disabled shouldn’t be in an exit row makes me 100% on Delta’s side on this one.

    I mean, the fact that he feels he NEEDS the neck brace every time he flies shows that he is disabled- no matter what mobility he thinks he has. What healthy person would even bother hauling something that big around when traveling?!

    • burnedout says:

      @The_IT_Crone: He never said he “needed” it, he just said he found it more comfortable than a neck pillow. Have you ever tried sleeping in those awful seats? Even a good neck pillow can’t keep your head upright. I’d imagine a soft-sided brace (like the one he’s describing) would serve that purpose nicely, and if it’s the kind with velcro straps on two sides could pack nicer than a pillow.

    • shockwaver says:

      @The_IT_Crone: They are the size of a soft neck pillow. Read the article? It’s a SOFT neck brace. It’s basically a pillow that has Velcro on it. If it was one of the hard ones, then sure, but it’s not.

    • Alternate says:

      @The_IT_Crone: He doesnt need it, he just prefers it because it makes flying more comfortable.

    • jacques says:

      @The_IT_Crone: It’s not about a device for the physically disabled, it’s about using some commonly available materials to solve a problem. In fact, I think I’ll try bringing one of those around, since most of the time I fly, I end up sleeping in an odd position and screw up my neck for the next few weeks.

    • Skaperen says:

      @The_IT_Crone: He is not handicapped. The neck brace is a comfort device. If you get the right one (proper thickness and density), it actually works better than a pillow when in a semi-upright position. Think of it as a pillow than stays with you.

      His accident probably created a situation for him where certain head angles typically resulting from use of a pillow are uncomfortable, or that use of a pillow being unreliable (head slides off) results in discomfort. None of this means he is handicapped.

    • Megalomania says:

      @The_IT_Crone: To summarize the previous 5: He doesn’t NEED it, RTFA.

      • Bob Lu says:

        @Megalomania: TBH his post reminds me those smokers who alway insist they were not addicted and if they’ve decided so they could stop smoking anytime. They just find no reason and decide not to quit. Really, they don’t need it. It just make them feel better.

        I agree the CA was not handling the situation well. But still, I think it is a right thing to make OP move to another seat.

        • Mika Hutchison says:

          @Bob Lu:
          Wow. Way to make a connection where none exists.

          Someone using a neck brace as a pillow during a flight is hardly the same as someone regularly taking in an addictive substance.

          Do the other people on the flight “need” a pillow simply because they use them to feel better? Do I “need” to be sitting on a cushioned chair right now? Are these addictions that really need to be equated to smoking? But who knows, perhaps if I were to sit on a hard chair I would go into withdrawal.

          Preposterous. It would be amusing if I thought you weren’t serious though.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @The_IT_Crone: I think some neck braces fold flat now, actually. But this was from 30 years ago, so who knows.

  7. MaxMiami says:

    Handicapped people do not belong in the exit row, period. It takes coordination and upper body strength to remove an airliner door and throw it out the plane to facilitate evacuation. US AIR 1549 anyone??

    It shouldn’t be the flight attendant’s responsibility to determine how much your mobility is impaired by a neck injury. Is the flight attendant supposed to check your MRI to determine if you’re okay to perform this task? Is s/he supposed to just take your word for it, in spite of an obvious physical impairment.

    Every airline has a blanket policy that you need to physically capable to sit in the exit row. I think it’s unfortunate that this policy isn’t enforced enough coz passengers feel a sense of entitlement for the extra legroom.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @MaxMiami: I know what everyone else means now when they are saying that reading comprehension has gone out the door.

      He. Is. Not. Handicapped.

      He. Does. Not. Need. A. Neck. Brace.

      It’s for comfort, for heaven’s sake! It does a better job than a pillow and doesn’t move when your head shifts a little.

      The fact that the attendant didn’t believe he wasn’t impaired, even though he showed him he had a full range of head and neck motion is ridiculous.

      • MaxMiami says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: There’s nothing wrong with my reading compehension.

        My point stands: he wore a medical device on the plane that is used for a physical impairment. It is not the flight attendants responsibility to determine that that “he does not need the neck brace” and was only wearing it for comfort. If you don’t need the device, don’t wear it; use a pillow and there would be no issue.

        If someone wore a sling or an aircast and insisted it was “for comfort” not medical necessity so that they could sit in the exit row, the flight attendant should kick them out. A neck brace is no different.

        • Mika Hutchison says:


          What about people who orthopedic shoes? That’s a medical device. Should someone be asked to move for that? Where do you draw the line? Someone with glasses? A pin in their hip? Diabetes supplies? No. Medical devices are not an automatic disqualification for the emergency row.

          While I completely support a flight attendant inquiring about the neck brace… the guy clearly showed that it was a matter of comfort, not physical disability. Common sense should have kicked in at this point. Yes, every airline has a blanket policy that you need to physically capable to sit in the exit row. And he was. I don’t recall a blanket policy that medical devices automatically mean you aren’t physically capable.

        • Jeff-er-ee says:

          @MaxMiami: I’m not really convinced by your argument here, and I quite agree with pecan that you read the article with a rather shallow level of comprehension. By explaining where the brace came from, why he was using it, and by demonstrating normal mobility and use, he should have mitigated the FA’s concerns. Your argument postulating, “If you don’t need it, don’t use it….” is ridiculous IMHO…carrying that out to logical (if extreme) conclusions, he doesn’t really NEED to fly, so he should have walked. Comparing wearing a soft neck brace (basically a long, flat pillow with Velcro on the ends) to an inflatable cast or sling is ludicrous. A neck pillow makes perfect sense in this situation (my mother used to use one for the same purpose, and she never had any neck issues). Using a sling or aircast does not.

          The fact that the FA’s supervisor agreed with the OP, and that he came back later and got “in his face”, is a clear indicator to me that the FA was more concerned with his own ego and authority than with passenger safety. Quite frankly, I’d be very uncomfortable with such an ego throwing around orders in an emergency situation. Sounds like he’s more interested in being right than in doing the right thing.

  8. Oregon says:

    WOW lets blame the OP is off to a roaring start. The phones at the CRS help centers must be slow today.

    NO ONE has the right to get in your face to the point of you needing an umbrella to protect yourself from getting spit on you. DID some of you miss this point???
    Someone yelling at me because they got overridden by their supervisor needs a class in Anger Management.

    Also the OP said that the attendant didn’t hear what he said but assumed it was something bad. How does that become passive aggressive name calling. It was the attendant on a power trip to shut the OP down period. When seeing that the attendant called on red coated airline security to further this power trip how can any of you justify the attendants behaviour.Look at the whole story and picture not just one little part!

    Also anyone who has worn those soft neck braces knows that they do not make you one bit handicapped.

    • Alternate says:

      @Oregon: You get a little clicky heart for this.

    • supercereal says:


      Also the OP said that the attendant didn’t hear what he said but assumed it was something bad. How does that become passive aggressive name calling.

      Because it was “something bad” that he mumbled after the steward backed off. I would call that the very definition of passive-aggressive.

      Still, if they guy was literally yelling and spitting in his face, then that would indeed be grounds for some sort of punishment. This site, though, has taught me that people often embellish on the story to invoke sympathy, reinforce their point, and create a distinct bias against the business. I can’t imagine that this literally happened.

      • bairdwallace says:

        @supercereal: Yes, I’m with you on what passive aggressive means, and I think I would probably feel entitled to being regular old aggressive at that point. But I also probably would have taken a deep breath and told him to take it up with the purser (sr. flight attendant).

      • WhoAsked You says:

        @supercereal: You can’t imagine it most likely because you weren’t on the flight.

    • runswithscissors says:

      @Oregon: Agreed 100% – we’re really riding a large wave of “Blame the OP” commenters here on the site lately…

  9. Anonymous says:

    This comment is about wearing a neck brace in emergency row only. A neck brace is suggestive of an injury. Even if you are not injured, I can’t blame a flight attendent for questioning it. Even if one is honest in saying that it’s worn for comfort, other folks may not be so truthful just to get a more comfortable seat on the plane. i don’t blame the airline for that.

    • calquist says:

      @KilbyVibius: Plus if something were to happen and someone else on the plane says ‘the guy in the emergency exit row was wearing a brace!’, the airline would probably be in a sticky situation.

    • LibraryGeek says:

      @KilbyVibius: Asking the question would have been fine. The attendant went way beyond questioning and threw a hissy fit when the Sr. attendant ok’d it.

  10. haoshufu says:

    The flight attendent must realize the OP is not a premier member.

  11. chris_d says:

    This is one of numerous reasons why I hate flying. I don’t know why anyone would willingly subject him or herself to all this crap that goes on.

  12. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    The flight attendant handled this badly. If anything, he himself should have consulted his boss before taking his anger out on the passenger. It sounds like a case of somebody with a Napoleon complex.

    The OP explained himself to the senior flight attendant, so that should have been the end of it.

    However, I suspect the OP’s insistence at wearing the brace for the entirety of the flight was in itself an act of passive-aggressive douchebaggery. He should have just taken it off if he really didn’t need it.

    There are two sides to every story, so I think I would have had to have actually witnessed this before I could figure out who to side with.

  13. blainer says:

    For those that are saying that the neck brace won’t impact his range of motion, what exactly do you think the purpose of a neck brace is?

    • Moosehawk says:

      @blainer: It’s not like a bolted down neck brace for someone who snapped their spinal cord. It’s a soft pillow neck brace that supports his head, it could be ripped off in a second. Why would he need a full range of motion to open a door anyway?

    • Skaperen says:

      @blainer: What do you think a pillow is. A neck brace is nothing more than a device that keeps your head in certain positions similar to a pillow, but more reliably (because they don’t as easily get separated). We’re not talking about those whole-head metal contraptions. This is just a simple wrap-around device with a velcro attachment that makes it simple and easy to pull off.

    • floraposte says:

      @blainer: A neck brace is to relieve the burden on the muscles that keep the neck erect. It doesn’t limit voluntary motion unless it’s too big for you (as mine was post-surgery). It’s not going to keep him from doing anything even if he doesn’t have time to remove it. (And keep in mind there’s no rule against people in the exit row wearing sleep shades on their eyes, so it’s clearly permissible for people to use items that should be removed in an emergency.)

      It’s true that most people who use one are injured and thus shouldn’t be in the exit row. In this case he wasn’t, and the flight attendant was pretty assy for not accepting the first FA’s judgment. But I also think that 18 months is long enough to let it go unless there’s something recent to make it relevant.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      @blainer: I do believe you’ve just been schooled, me boy.

    • Jeff-er-ee says:

      @blainer: I don’t think that anyone is saying that the neck brace wasn’t impacting his range of motion. The OP didn’t assert that either. What he demonstrated was the range of motion that he had in his neck, I’m assuming with the neck brace off (they have a Velcro clasp…it’d be off in under a second in an emergency situation).

  14. JuliB says:

    I’m a frequent flyer (for business) and agree with Delta 100%. People will lie to sit in the exit rows, so I would tend not to believe him myself. I once reported someone who didn’t speak English well. She lied to the flight attendant that she could understand everything when it was obvious that she got things translated after the attendant had walked away the first time.

    99% of the time, you’re not going to have to do anything. But if that 1% happens on a flight I’m on, then I’d rather everyone be obviously able-bodied and in full command of the language.

    • Moosehawk says:

      @JuliB: But he wasn’t lying. He demonstrated he wasn’t injured in anyway and could move his neck in a full motion.

      The article isn’t about the first time the attendant approached him, it’s about the second and third time when the flight attendant just didn’t like getting proven wrong.

    • Skaperen says:

      @JuliB: Where do you think the lie was? The supervisor understood. This rude attendant has probably been sanction before and is taking it out on the passenger because he’s close to losing his job. That’s an unstable person and needs to not only lose the job, but be permanently banned from all commercial flights.

      Yeah, I can understand that lots of people do lie. And if the writer did lie, he did a very damned good one. Now explain what the lie was as you see it to be.

    • wolftrouble says:

      @JuliB: Uh, more like 99.9999% of the time you won’t need to do anything, and the last .00001% of the time you may be asked to open a door, if it’s not too much trouble and you’re not too dead.

    • WhoAsked You says:

      @JuliB: Ooooh…that’s a good point about people on exit rows knowing English. Because I sure haven’t seen any language tests before take off…but would be interesting to watch lol.

  15. floridamom says:

    I wonder if an incident from January 2008 is still relevant.

  16. Shoelace says:

    This happened in January 2008. Wondering why it’s being posted a year and a half later.

    Sounds to me like the flight attendant was being an unreasonable jerk every chance he could after Ned wouldn’t buckle to him, including arranging for the blazer/clipboard/attitude person to be waiting for him when he got off the plane. Glad Ned turned it around.

    I don’t see how a soft neck brace would impair someone’s ability to get moving in an emergency any longer than a lap full of paperwork or a deep sleep would.

    • Benny Gesserit says:

      @Shoelace: I gotta play the devil’s advocate for a minute here. He says the neck brace is from being rear-ended 30yrs ago and he uses it for flying.

      If he’s wearing it because it’s a great portable pillow, yes, it shouldn’t impair him at all.

      But if he’s wearing it because the jostling during flight makes his neck feel bad 30 years later than I don’t feel he should be in an exit aisle. Suppose major turbulence before a crash – something even the brace couldn’t shield him from – leave him unable to move. He’s be a sack of wet dough keeping people from using the exit.

      That said, the stew was a miserable, tin-pot dictator.

      • Shoelace says:

        @Julius Seizure. (Lackey Position Avail.): I agree that if he’s using it for persistent neck pain then he should have moved, but it sounded like he just kept the brace around after his accident in ’76 because it’s comfortable for flying. Regardless, he convinced the flight attendant’s supervisor that he had adequate mobility and she told him he could stay put. The flight attendant continued to act like a jerk even after Ned told him that he had gotten the supervisor’s OK.

  17. Ronin-Democrat says:

    I say the name calling was in order and done properly.
    a mumbled sob or mf’er or what ever has more than once diffused the situation because you can’t get loud -cop, irs, stewardess- without consequences

  18. XianZomby says:

    Then take off the neck brace. Sorry Ned, if you want to wear the accoutrements of an injured person, then you can’t sit in a seat where I’m at least partially depending on you to open the emergency door for me — even though we all know if it comes to that everybody is going down anyway. No sympathy from me. Get out of the seat and sit somewhere else if your personal comfort with a neck brace is so important to you. I don’t trust you to do your job. Thanks to the flight attendants for doing their jobs and trying to protect the safety and wellbeing of all the passengers, and not just Ned, who clearly likes the attention — positive or negative — when confronted about the neck brace. What if a dude likes sitting in wheel chair, can he sit in the exit row?

    • Badhatharry says:

      @XianZomby: Wow. Do you just read the headline and then comment? He was using the neck brace as a pillow. He was not handicapped, and once he proved it to the flight attendant in charge, that should have been the end of it. He doesn’t have to audition for you.

    • Skaperen says:

      @XianZomby: While an injured person may be one that needs to wear such a device, wearing it, or even needing to wear it for comfort, does not mean the wearer is injured, handicapped, or incapable of assisting in the clearing of the plane. The fact that the writer showed his full range of head motion demonstrated this, and the attendant supervisor got it.

      I suggest you put one of those on when you relax in a reclining chair. You may find you want to keep it and use it all the time.

    • Rugbydan says:

      @XianZomby: Hear Hear. Too many people putting their personal comfort over the rules. Those exit row rules exist for a damned reason. But, nooooooo, God forbid you are slightly inconvenienced by moving to another seat to wear your weird ass neck brace (of which I’ve NEVER seen in use in that capacity.)

      It’s not the job of the flight crew to figure out if your neck brace is medically needed or just for shits and giggles. If you need/want to wear it, move your ass to another row. I’ll use your torso to batter down the door in an emergency otherwise.

      END RANT.

      • coren says:

        @Rugbydan: They didn’t have to figure it out – he demonstrated it wasn’t. And the rules don’t say “you can’t be comfortable” – just that you have to open the door.

        Also, if you intend to use someone as a battering ram to open that exit door, please don’t sit in the emergency aisle – that’ll be worse than due with a neckbrace ;)

        • Rugbydan says:

          @coren: He demonstrated that he could move his neck. He could have been in pain, but toughed through it so he could keep his seat. My point is, it’s not a judgment call here. If you have a disability or can’t understand English, you can’t sit there. Wearing a neck brace is proclaiming that you have a disability, even if you are “wearing it for comfort”. OP needs to get over himself.

          If a wear a police uniform and someone runs up to me for help, and I say “I’m not really a cop, I’m just dressed as one”, I think that person would be annoyed.

          • coren says:

            @Rugbydan: For comfort=/=disability. Plus, he doesn’t need full range of motion of his neck to open that door – not that he would be, what with sitting on the aisle.

      • Jeff-er-ee says:

        @Rugbydan: Which rule did he break by wearing a neck brace for personal comfort? The rules say that you must be physically able to perform the functions required to sit in that row, which the OP was.

        Also, for some of us, moving to another row is more than a slight inconvenience. Try sitting for several hours in a seat that is is too small for you (both in height and in legroom), and perhaps you’ll understand. Those of us that are over 5 foot 7 know what I’m talking about ;-)

    • coren says:

      @XianZomby: There’s special accommodations made for wheelchair folks anyway, so moot point.

      I mean, I get what you’re saying, but there really isn’t a good counter example

    • Mika Hutchison says:


      Well by god, if you don’t trust someone to do their job something must be done about this! Perhaps physicals should be taken in order to qualify for the exit row. We’ll have the best of the best sit there… Only people with no vision problems, chronic conditions, past surgeries and health issues, allergies, etc.

      *sigh* Yes, thanks to the flight attendants for proving, once again, that common sense is no longer common. Thanks also for getting in a customer’s face and getting saliva all over his face.

      • ohenry says:

        @Mika Hutchison: Ha! I love it. We can pay genetically modified, mechanically modified cyborgs to sit in that seat. They will be the epitome of physical fitness. They will be big, buff, and able to open the door regardless of the physical state of the plane.

        And the best part, the airline can charge a fee to other passengers for the extra safety measure :D

  19. Ilovegnomes says:

    To play devil’s advocate here, imagine being on a flight and you see a guy with a neck brace sitting next to your emergency exit? I know that I wouldn’t be cool with it. Or being the flight steward and having other passengers asking you what in the world a guy with a neck brace is doing in an emergency aisle, after you told him not to wear it. This guy might have gotten the buy off from one flight attendant but what about the rest of the plane?

    If he wants to do this in the future, I suggest that he disguises his neck brace with some cheerful pattern cover like those neck pillows so that it doesn’t look so medical.

    • Skaperen says:

      @Ilovegnomes: To play devil’s advocate here, imagine the guy sitting next to your emergency exit demonstrates that his neck brace is not being used for a condition of limited range of motion, but rather, simply for comfort, by showing to the supervisor to her satisfaction that he has a full range of motion, and can even remove the device in an instant (the ones I have had were velcro attached).

    • ColonelK says:

      @Ilovegnomes: To play devil’s prosecutor … what if the person on said flight were wearing this: [] . It’s sold by Magellan’s, a popular travel outfitter.

      It looks a lot like a neck brace to me … quoting the site:
      “If you must sleep sitting up, good head and neck support is vital.” So says Dr. Melvin Cheatham, a leading spinal surgeon, who developed the Komfort Kollar¬Æ pillow for those of us who struggle to sleep while sitting up in our coach seats on long flights. Patented Komfort Kollar¬Æ, made of luxuriously soft, flexible memory foam, supports your cervical spine from every angle (including under your chin!) and brings comfort you never experienced with other pillows.

    • Framling says:

      @Ilovegnomes: Okay, I’m imagining…

      “Uhhh, wait a second, does that guy in the exit row have neck brace on? What’s up with that? Hello? Am I the only one seeing this? That guy’s got a neck brace on. What is he… okay, good, a flight attendant is going over there. Okay. They’re talking… Yeah, sure, just take it off, because that’s the problem. Oh, wait, he… okay, he can move his neck around. He’s just… wearing the neck brace for some reason? I don’t… oh, okay, another FA is coming over. Aaaaaand she seems to be okay with it. Huh. Okay, I guess he doesn’t need it or something. Those FAs are usually hardasses about that kind of thing, so I guess it’s okay.”

      END SCENE.

  20. William Brinkman says:

    File a complaint.

    You’ll probably get between 5,000-10,000 miles deposited in your account.

    • William Brinkman says:

      @William Brinkman: PS – Just lose the neckbrace. Only a high-functioning autistic would fail to understand why wearing this may make other people uncomfortable.

      • redkamel says:

        @William Brinkman: really? you realize the neck brace he is talking about is a foam bar you wrap around your neck? Its not a hard brace.

        • William Brinkman says:

          @redkamel: Maybe I should use a powered wheelchair to get to my seat. When the flight attendant asks me about it, I’ll just say that I don’t need it and I use it because I’m lazy.

          While the neck brace itself is nothing more than a pillow here, the message it sends is quite different.

          • coren says:

            @fargle: Yeah, that’s why he wore it, cuz he thought he was better than everyone else. Way to read betweent he lines.

          • redkamel says:

            @William Brinkman: a powered wheelchair doesnt fit on an airplane. A foambrace is for sale at any CVS. It sends no message other that you either have a minor/mild neck problem, or you are smart and bought a neck pillow for way less than the inflatable ones.

      • Jeff-er-ee says:

        @William Brinkman: So, you’re saying that you’re a high-functioning autistic? Oh, you have other ways of knowing what an autistic person does and does not understand? Wow, nice way to add credibility to your post.

        See the post directly above yours to see why it wouldn’t have made me uncomfortable in the slightest. Maybe Framling and I are unique in our ability to go from point A to point B in a scenario though…

  21. fargle says:

    Wow, I don’t know what’s sadder – thinking you’re better than everyone else and wanting to wear a freaking NECK BRACE in the exit row aisle, or worse, having the gall to whine about it on Consumerist.

    The exit row is not designed for you to have extra legroom – it’s designed to be wide enough for people to get out of the plane quickly. How exactly is that purpose served by seating someone in the row who can’t even move their head around quickly?

    If you have good head mobility without the neck brace and want the extra legroom associated with the privilege of sitting in the exit row, I suggest you toughen up and accept the trade-off. The stewardesses are there firstly for the safety of the passengers, and secondly for your comfort.

    Believe me, I’ve had my share of bad experiences on flights, but this time you were the one providing the bad experience for yourself. If you want to wear a neck brace, sit in a normal row. If you want to sit in the row that requires you to accept the responsibility to act quickly in an emergency, take it off. End of story.

    • Skaperen says:

      @fargle: If you think the writer cannot move his head around quickly, then you didn’t really read the full article. You are jumping to a conclusion that only those who are handicapped use a neck brace. It has benefits for those who fall asleep in an upright semi-inclined position.

      As long as the person was able to show he was not handicapped (and he did that), I’d rather have someone WITH the neck brace device sitting there, knowing they are LESS likely to be injured when the plane his the water really hard when it ditches into the Hudson. A person who is injured in the exit row is as bad as a handicapped person there.

    • Pixelantes Anonymous says:

      @fargle: What the hell is going on with the comments in this article?

      Are people really so f***ing lazy that they don’t actually read the whole article? And so dumb, that when not reading the whole article, they feel like it’s appropriate to comment on it?

  22. Boberto says:

    People, Please.
    This whole scene around airplane transportation is so out of control. I get the same feeling at an airport NOW that I did when at a Greyhound terminal. Just a bad scene. Air travel is like a bus in the sky.
    Who remembers the 1970’s? My parents would dress us up in our nice clothes, we’d be on our best behaviour. The flight crew couldn’t do enough for us.

    What the hell happened?

    • Badhatharry says:

      @Boberto: Post 9-11, a group of people whose main job was to attend to the comfort of the customers were deputized into insuring that no one would hijack another plane. A small portion of that group has since proved that they cannot handle the added authority and now see the customers as children.

      • Skaperen says:

        @Badhatharry: And these same people were also charged do to more and more with less and less. Lots of people are still afraid to fly. More people are choosing to not fly for various reasons (including myself). So airlines are dealing with a big drop in business.

        And don’t forget, Delta filed bankruptcy on Sept 14, 2005, and emerged on April 30, 2007.

    • William Brinkman says:

      @Boberto: For better and worse, airlines are now for lower-middle class families going on vacation.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Ok, the flight attendant was an a-hole, but you shouldn’t be sitting in an emergency aisle. I don’t want to wait for you to remove your brace to open the door when my seat is on fire.

    “This plaster leg cast I have on is sort of like a security blanket for me. I always wear it when I fly. Don’t worry, I can remove it if we take a dive into the Atlantic and quickly deploy the emergency slides”

    Do we now have to put flight attendants into the position of judging if someone is really handicapped or not?

    You’re selfish and out of line, and are just wasting everyone’s time. Ditch the brace and sit in the emergency aisle, or wear your brace and sit with the rest of the passengers in a regular seat. You can’t have both.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @HollyPhilemon: He had PERMISSION to have both.

    • Jeff-er-ee says:

      @HollyPhilemon: The soft braces are just long flat pillows with Velcro to hold the ends together. They come off with a simple tug, in less time that it takes you to stand up. It wouldn’t have interfered with the OP’s ability to operate the exit door in the slightest.

  24. redkamel says:

    for all the “blame the OP”, please google image “soft collar neck brace”. Its basically the same as a neck pillow, except more supportive, and you can wear it all day.

    I too would be concerned, but if he has range of motion, then fine. I’d be more worried about the aisle person freaking out in a crash than being injured. All you have to do is pull a handle.

    AFAIC, this guy was totally within his rights and should have filed a complaint. Screw that flight attendant.He was acting like a cop. His boss ok’d it, end of story. Thank goodness he/she was a reasonable person.

    BTW nice way to handle the red blazer. I would have pursued it all the way just so the attendent could have had a nice backfire at the end of the day.

  25. Anonymous says:

    As an airline employee, I can tell you that a flight attendant does have the right to reseat passengers who do not meet exit-row seating requirements (as there are federal safety regulations in place).

    If you choose to wear a neck-brace, that’s up to you. However, if a flight attendant is following regulations, you will be asked to move if you’re currently in an exit-row. This is because the brace you choose to wear could impair your ability to safely perform the duties associated with exit-row seating in the event of an emergency.

    I agree that the flight attendant may not have handled your situation with the appropriate politeness, but he was indeed justified in requesting a move.

    • Brittany Linstrom says:

      @EdenDolius: Thank you. People don’t realize that if an FAA inspector is on that plane, the flight attendant can be fined (most flight attendant fines are in the $10k range). The flight attendant may have acted rudely to the passenger, but the lead flight attendant was also wrong in allowing him to retain his seat. If this had been a problem on my plane, he would have moved, or he would have been removed. No question. I’m not fighting with someone 30,000 feet up because they think they deserve something.

      • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

        @Brittany Linstrom: And what if it were not a neck brace, but the aforementioned Magellan neck pillow? Would you still insist upon moving him?

  26. emt888 says:

    I think that mistakes were on both sides here.

    I think the first flight attendant was right to ask the OP to move from the exit seat. He saw someone wearing a medical device sitting in the exit row. He probably has no medical training and is not aware that you can still have full range of motion while wearing a neck brace, all he saw was someone wearing it in an exit row in violation (I’m assuming) of FAA regulations. We have all have time to read this and process it and think about it, but the flight attendant had a plane filling up with cranky passengers and was thinking about taking off in a timely manner. He had to make a judgement call in 30 seconds. It’s also weird that the senior attendant made him take it off during take-off…if it’s a comfort device let him keep it on the entire time or make him keep it off the entire time…it sounds like there’s more to this part of the story.

    I think the first flight attendant made some mistakes also. He should not have gotten in the OP’s face about the brace. After the OP told him the senior attendant OK’d him to wear the brace, he should have double checked with her about it. Also, when the OP muttered the SOB comment (which wasn’t right), the flight attendant should have let it go. Anyone who has worked in the customer service field has to let the comments go, otherwise we would all be in jail.

  27. Ben Edwards says:

    Emergency exits are meant to be instantly available if needed.

    Love the extraneous use of 9/11 to rail against people who don’t give him what he wants. I read the full ‘letter’ and pegged the OP as a troublemaker – if he came across as trouble via text, can you imagine how he would have been perceived at the time of the event?

    • floraposte says:

      @Ben Edwards: I don’t think emergency exits are meant to be instantly available, actually. Otherwise they wouldn’t let people sitting in exit rows eat, or sleep, or put on headphones. They’re meant to be available as possible, with a premium of availability on landing and takeoff (it’s not like their instant availability is going to get you anything in a pressurized cabin anyway). I’m not seeing anything that suggests he interfered with that availability.

  28. Chip Johnson says:

    With this, you became my hero:

    “Yes,” I said, “and I hadn’t intended to report it – I figured I’d just let it go – but since you brought it up, I’d like to file a complaint against that flight attendant who treated me so rudely.”

    Very clever!

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @Chip Johnson: I liked that too. I’m surprised it didn’t get quoted until page two; I was sure everyone would be saying they’d have to remember that one just it case.

    • Red_Flag says:

      @Chip Johnson: Very surprised that the whole plethora of comments has devolved into a more or less single-issue debate over the neck brace and emergency row seating. I think the OP’s deflection of the steward’s vendetta is more worthy of focus, and that’s an approach I will definitely want to remember.

  29. shepd says:


    No, opening the door probably doesn’t take a lot of head motion. Checking around the plane for an ACTUAL emergency when someone asks you to open it DOES. I do not want someone in charge of that door that will open it without verifying the problem exists first.

    I’m sure it is easy to remove. That being said, do you know how many people each year die because something easy to do was not thought about in the panic of an emergency? The absolute SIMPLEST things in the world are forgotten about when you are in a panic. People die because they can’t remember how to leave the building they’re in. That’s even simpler than undoing a neckbrace.

    Is this guy’s neckbrace actually velcro? It’s 35 years old…

    • SJActress says:


      I’m pretty sure that if you’re being asked to open the emergency exit door on an airplane, you’re probably going to figure out WHY you’ve been asked, what with the plane crash and all.

    • silver-bolt says:

      @shepd: I’m pretty sure that removing a neckbrace is just as simple a task as being able to open the emergency door. If someone can’t be trusted to do one because of “”panic”” why are they trusted to do the other thing?

    • snowburnt says:

      @shepd: dude, velcro’s been around for a lot longer than 35 years. do you have trouble believing the moon landing too?

  30. Jim Topoleski says:

    can we PLEASE bring back instant banhammer for OP blaming? I thought we all agreed on that last year than ANYONE blaming the OP without reading the article was to be instantly de-voweled and banned from posting.

    Did that go away when CR took over from Gawker?

  31. coren says:

    What’s all this “I agree with Delta” crap? Delta didn’t have an official position one way or the other. The closest thing in this story was the *senior* flight attendant – in which case you’re on the OP’s side.

  32. humphrmi says:

    Any FA who gets on a passenger’s case after the Senior FA has resolved the issue is on a power trip and needs to re-evaluate why he’s an FA. This should have been over, permanently, after the Senior FA settled it.

  33. mizmoose says:

    I’ll be dead before I fly Delta or Northwest ever again.

    No, let me correct that. If I should be shipped somewhere as a corpse, let it be known that my body should not be shipped Delta or Northwest.

  34. Barbara Campbell says:

    If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck… get the picture. Sorry folks but a neck brace, knee brace , cane, or sling gets you moved out of an exit row on an AC that I’m LFA on. I’m on that plane to ‘inform’ not enforce, so believe me, someone who gets paid to deal with folks like this would have been called in. I’m not going to argue with anyone. I speak quite slowly and clearly. I would never get into someone’s face….that was a bit of a power trip on that FA’s part and unacceptable behavior.

    What the writer fails to recognize is that by allowing him to stay there opens it up for future flights (and more aggravation for other FAs).

    I SURE that the writer goes thru this on EVERY flight EVERY time he has that brace. He KNOWS that brace makes him ineligble to sit there. (BTW, so does having your dog or a cat in a carrier) Why does he feel the need for this extra attention?

    Oh, if the FAA is on board, do you think that explanation will fly(excuse the pun; couldn’t resist) with them as they’re writing up my fine?

    Geez, Dude, why not just book a seat up front in WBC or First Class?

    • floraposte says:

      @Barbara Campbell: Does it technically make him ineligible, though? He’s not impaired, he’s just using a device as a pillow. I can get it if you’re saying that you’re not equipped to walk people through ability tests at boarding and you’d have to move him, but is that the same thing as genuinely being ineligible?

      • Brittany Linstrom says:

        @floraposte: It’s not whether he is genuinely impaired or not. It’s not for a flight attendant to decide. The passenger appeared to be unable to aid in the evacuation in the event of an emergency.

        The passenger is trying to get some extra miles out of this (which may be justified by how he was treated, but most definitely NOT the fact he was asked to change rows).

        • floraposte says:

          @Brittany Linstrom: It very much is up to the flight attendant to decide. That’s why the FA has the right to decide you can’t sit there if it seems like you don’t possess the stipulated abilities. She ascertained he did possess the stipulated abilities.
          And she allowed him to sit there.

          I get that some FAs might have made a different call, but nobody’s offered a single piece of evidence to suggest that this FA’s call was a breach of anything. Nor has anybody offered a single piece of evidence to suggest that the junior FA disputed the call appropriately.

    • Patrick Lange says:

      @Barbara Campbell: But on the other hand, if it looks like a duck and goes “woof, woof, woof”, it might not be a duck.

  35. amillians says:

    Sounds like the first flight attendant was a real pain in the neck.

    Thanks, you’ve been great. Try the veal, it’s fabulous. I’ll be here all week!

  36. Pat Carmichael says:

    The exit isle isn’t for extra footroom. It’s for people capable of handling the pressure and difficulties of assisting the evacuation of a possibly critically damaged aircraft in a timely manner in order to limit LOSS OF LIFE in a potentially catastrophic accident.

    Now yes, the attendant did over-react after the senior flight crew allowed you to have it on, but he/she was not out of line at first at all, to request that you move.

    It’s not that they think they have real power – it’s that they DO have real power, by FAA mandate.
    It is to the designation of the flight crew as to who sits in that row, and only at their designation.

    • humphrmi says:

      @Pat Carmichael: How about the senior fa who resolved the situation, only to have the turd fa bring it into the pax face again?

      • Pat Carmichael says:

        They were a dick, and it could have been handled better but their job is safety more than anything else and I can understand how that puts them in an odd position. They’re there to do their best to guarantee safety, not to give you extra space. Any appearance of weakness or disability or inability to perform a critical emergency task, when lives are on the line, should disqualify you from being in that position. The OP said specifically this is from a car accident 35 years ago – no matter how little of that remains, it’s something he chooses to deal with by using a medical instrument, and obviously affects him in some way (or he wouldn’t need it at all), and that means he may not be the most qualified person to be assisting others in an emergency.

        Personally, as a passenger, I’d want him moved.

        • humphrmi says:

          @Pat Carmichael: “They” weren’t a dick. Senior FA recognized no problem, told PAX to stay put. Junior FA was a dick and went against the directive of his superior. No PAX or safety problem here, just an FA who can’t deal with being overridden by his superior and takes it out on a PAX.

      • Brittany Linstrom says:

        @humphrmi: The senior FA was wrong. End of story. They probably didn’t want the confrontation and didn’t take it as seriously as it should have been taken.

        • humphrmi says:

          @Brittany Linstrom: Funny thing, it’s not up to the passenger to decide who’s right or wrong. That’s why they’re called SENIOR.

          • Brittany Linstrom says:

            @humphrmi: I’m not excusing the behavior. I’m saying that it was indeed miscommunication, or a lack of communication that caused most of this problem.

            A good percentage of the time the lead flight attendant is the most junior (flying the shortest amount of time) on the crew.

            • humphrmi says:

              @Brittany Linstrom: Lead FA is lead. It doesn’t matter if you like how the airline picked him/her, or if you like him/her or not, or if you like his/her decisions. They are the lead, they are in charge, and when they make a decision about a passenger situation, their word is final. Learn to deal with it.

              • floraposte says:

                @humphrmi: Honestly, I’m getting kind of confused here–the people who are stating loudest that the FA gets to designate who sits there seem to be upset that that’s what happened–the FA designated who sat there.

  37. Chase Teschendorf says:

    Seriously? SERIOUSLY? You want the exit row AND your “comfort device?” No! That puts other passengers at risk: seconds matter in an emergency. He could have moved rows and used the neck brace, or had the extra legroom and not used the brace. The writer is making a big deal out of something that was his fault. Seriously.

    • Patrick Lange says:

      @Chase Teschendorf:
      Re: “Seconds matter in an emergency”
      This is probably why he was asked not to wear it during takeoff, one of the two most dangerous parts of the flight.

      Once at cruising altitude, there’s likely to be some warning, since opening the emergency exit at 30,000 feet would be, you know, a complete disaster.

  38. EinhornIsAMan! says:

    @undefined: @shepd: Follow instructions my ass. If the plane crashes and I’m in an emergency exit row, I’m going to open the door and gtfo, instructions from the crew be damned

  39. Anonymous says:

    There are two sides (at least) to every story, and we’ve only heard the side of someone who comes across as angry, bitter, and having a strong sense of entitlement.

    If a 35 year old injury still pains him sufficiently that he needs a neck brace, I don’t want to depend on his mobility and responsiveness in case of an emergency.

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      @QuintanaMuses: You didn’t read the article, did you?

    • kbrook says:

      @QuintanaMuses: I have a twenty year old ankle injury that sometimes bothers me enough to have to wear a brace. And a three year old hip injury that has me limping whenever it’s going to rain. Now, these are both problems that would interfere with me being able to open an emergency door, but I always request a bulkhead seat anyway. If the passenger demonstrated his ability to open the exit doors to the satisfaction of the senior FA, then the matter should have been dropped.

  40. lockdog says:

    Anyone else thinking that the solution here is to have some soft neck braces made up in fancy colors and sell them at exorbitant prices in airport gift shops as a better neck pillow? I can see the look on the flight attendant’s face already.

  41. FrankReality says:

    I try to avoid flying whenever possible.

    Whether it’s a power-mad TSA screener, or a bitchy flight attendant, or foul-mooded gate agent, or ornery passengers, or misbehaving children, there is ALWAYS someone who is doing everything within their power to ensure your trip sucks.

    Or so it seems. hehehe

  42. GuyNermit says:

    I suppose next time he’ll want to bring his oxygen tank along, not because he “needs” it, but just because he “likes” it.

  43. jamesdenver says:

    quote: This is one of numerous reasons why I hate flying. I don’t know why anyone would willingly subject him or herself to all this crap that goes on.

    Uh – to get from one side of the country to the other without spending four days doing it? To see different parts the world?

    Although not quite worded that way you were first with the “people shouldn’t fly” comment…

  44. icantreplyright says:

    What does that thing smell like? eeeewwwwwwwww.

  45. Chris Copley says:

    You’re the boss. Not them.

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      @Chris Copley: Actually, the Senior FA who overruled the first one is the boss. Once that decision had been made, Junior should have dealt with it, instead of acting like an ass. That’s the point being made. Right or wrong, he should have abided by the decision made by his supervisor.

      Anyone who’s worked in retail has had decisions overridden by spineless managers; it’s something you learn to deal with. Once he decided to vent his frustration on the passenger, he crossed a line, and should be reprimanded.

  46. boyonabike says:

    Isn’t it kinda weird that he was trying to fill out a serious complaint that he “wanted to take to the top” but yet the lady with the clipboard was able to make an excuse and leave so readily? It seems unusual that an offical would leave during any kind of complaint filling. Or is it just me?

  47. notanignoramus says:

    Flight attendants are responsible for the safety of passengers aboard the aircraft. This means they are responsible for YOUR safety, as well as that of other passengers. If you appear to be injured or unable to help while sitting in an exit row, this flight attendant had every right to question whether you would be able to help in an emergency – and also whether you would be able to safely get out of the way of an exit-bound stampede. I understand your concern and his as well – and it seems that both of you did something wrong. You don’t curse out a flight attendant… you could have been arrested for interfering with a flight crew.
    I suggest that you have your doctor write a note for you if you don’t want this to cause trouble in the future. All the doctor needs to do is write a brief note indicating WHY you wear the neck brace, and why it DOES NOT interfere with your ability to operate an emergency exit. However, I would surmise that your doctor may not want to write such a note, since the purpose of a neck brace is to restrict movement and therefore it restricts your vision in the case of an emergency.

    • Barbara Campbell says:

      Sorry —a note from your Doctor (or you mom) will still NOT get you that seat on my AC. An arguement with a Flight attendant about your Doctor’s note, will get you a new seat off the plane.@notanignoramus:

    • Barbara Campbell says:

      @notanignoramus: BTW I LOVE your post!!!!!

    • JiminyChristmas says:

      @notanignoramus: See now, this is the gist of the problem:

      You don’t curse out a flight attendant… you could have been arrested for interfering with a flight crew.

      Srsly?!!? I suppose it could happen but it sure as hell shouldn’t happen. The world is full of loud-mouthed pricks. If you work with the public part of your job is keep your cool and deal with it.

      To some extent, I fault the TSA and other law enforcement for enabling this kind of power-tripping BS on the part of flight attendants. If I were a cop, and a flight attendant called me to arrest someone for “interfering with a flight crew” and I found out that all the suspect did was call the flight attendant an SOB…I might be a little pissed with having my time wasted in that manner.

      After all, what are the police doing while they are hauling in some victim of a petty tyrant crew member: They’re not providing security against real threats.

      • Esquire99 says:

        Seconded. It’s absurd that people, including FAs themselves, think that simply disagreeing with a FA should result in arrest. Calling a FA a “son of a bitch” is not, by itself, interfering with the flight crew. In fact, calling them something much worse that that, alone, doesn’t rise to that level. As you point out, this is nothing more than a number of FAs who are on a power trip and think they are the king/queen of the airplane. They don’t care about logic, common sense, reason or the real rules; they care about how THEY are going to run THEIR aircraft.

        • Pat Carmichael says:


          If you don’t like the rules and the law, don’t fly, or write to your congressmen/women to get the laws changed.

      • Pat Carmichael says:


        They’re not service personnel. They’re not there to keep you happy, make you dinner, or pay you compliments. They’re there to get you to your destination safely. That is their only mandate, and it’s a government issued mandate as well.

        They have the power. They have the right to make decisions to serve the best interests of the other passengers on the flight, and there’s good reason for that.

    • notanignoramus says:

      @BarbaraCampbell: You’re right, you still have the judgement call even with a Doctor’s note. It’s only a suggestion for him, and note the last sentence.

      @JiminyChristmas: I’m not saying that it would be RIGHT for a flight attendant to call the police, but escalating the situation by cursing is a sign that things are getting out of control.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      If you appear to be injured or unable to help while sitting in an exit row, this flight attendant had every right to question whether you would be able to help in an emergency

      @notanignoramus: But nobody’s arguing against that. If that had been all that had happened we wouldn’t even be hearing about it.

  48. Esquire99 says:

    What the fuck is going on with these comments? I’ll admit, as a skeptical and generally unsympathetic jerk I usually fall into the “blame the OP” category. However, here it’s so unbelievably clear that this is NOT the OP’s fault. I’m willing to concede that the FA’s initial question regarding the brace was 100% warranted. However, once it was made clear it was simply being used as a pillow and the guy could move his head without any problems, the situation became a huge fuckup on Delta’s part.

    I’m baffled that people think that simply “looking” disabled renders one unfit to sit in an exit row. How about being a complete fucking moron? They don’t do intelligence tests before they let people sit in those seats. We’ve all met people that look smart, but when they speak we quickly find out they are dumber than a bad of doorknobs. The fact this guy looked disabled is completely irrelevant. Further, I think it was pretty inappropriate of the FA to questions him when he said he wasn’t disabled. He said he wasn’t, showed he wasn’t; it should have ended there. I realize FA’s aren’t doctors, but come on, use some damn common sense. Guy can move fine; explanation is reasonable; move on.

    I’m truly amazed at the number of commenters here that think it’s unreasonable of him to wear a neck brace as a pillow. I can’t believe the people who claim he can’t sit in an exit row AND wear a non-necessary neck brace; he can’t sit in an exit row AND be comfortable; my god man, it’s an exit row, you have to be on your toes, ready to react in an instant in case you’re needed. First off, any event that would require the use of the exit row is going to have at least 30 seconds of “Warning” before it’s actually necessary and proper to open the exit. You’re not going to open it while the plane is moving, and once a commercial jet starts to move, it takes them a little while to stop, even if it’s after some sort of catastrophe.

    I’m also floored that a flight attendant commented on here and thought this was appropriate. It’s scary to know that there are people that stupid/ignorant/lazy/incompetent working as flight attendants. Even as a “LFA”, he/she is so afraid to exercise any ounce of judgement; that or it’s a “I don’t get paid to listen to your arguments, just do as I say. I am GOD to you. If you don’t like it, I’ll just call the authorities.

    While the guy may be a “troublemaker”, that doesn’t mean he’s wrong here. Even though he (rightly) called the FA a “son of a bitch”, that occurred after 90% of the mistreatment had occurred. You people are willing to write off all of their BS just because he called the guy a name? I thought I was bad.

    • Brittany Linstrom says:



      Every flight attendant carries a manual that list the rules. Every flight attendant is tested on these rules as well as changes at least once a year (usually more).

    • farker says:


      I find it disturbing that you usually blame the OP (people typically have legitimate complaints), but in this instance, believe it was the fault of the flight crew.

      They were merely doing their jobs! Of course it’s unlikely that anyone in an exit row would need to assist during an emergency on any particular flight, but it’s the job of the flight crew to ensure that everyone seated in those rows is 100% able-bodied.

      • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

        @farker: Junior stopped doing his job and started being an ass as soon as he felt it necessary to yell at the OP because he had been overridden by Senior.

  49. prag says:

    If there is a dude in the exit row with a stiff neck while I’m trying to get off a burning airplane then he is going to get trampled. I think the airline, perhaps, was doing him a favor. I mean, really, that exit row stuff is actually serious business. Not often but sometimes. This isn’t really that crazy.

  50. Clerkerist says:

    The flight attendants were right on this one. Everyone’s safety is jeopardized by a disabled person in the exit row. Eccentrics who like to wear neck braces are not a protected class of citizens and may be required to change seats on an aircraft. Imagine a man wearing a Jiffy-Pop pan as a hat sitting in the exit row. He has a right to wear it, but do you want CRAZY between you and SWEET LIFE?

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      @Clerkerist: Which FA? The one who overrode the subordinate, or the one that yelled at the OP when he didn’t get his way?

  51. Barbara Campbell says:

    Read my comment about the FAA—it DOES make him ineligble. I’ve seen people request a wheelchair or a golf cart because they don’t know their way around the airport and figure they don’t have the energy to run.—–this makes you ineligble also. And with limited time to board, secure cabin, etc, etc….Do you all really want us to delay the flight while I explain this dribble to any/and every one who wants to know why HE can sit there or that his neck brace is really a pillow? I know that much of the flying public views us as skywaiters/ waitresses, but we are safety pros 1st.

    • Esquire99 says:

      @Barbara Campbell:
      Please provide a citation to the FAA regulation that makes a person who merely looks disabled ineligible to sit in an emergency exit row.

      • Kevin McDonald says:

        @Esquire99: Please provide a citation to the Consumerist rules of use where it says douchebag comments like yours are to be tolerated as anything less than the drivel of a total wanker. Sure the steward was a power crazed whack job, but the OP should have just moved in the first place if his damned neck comfort was so important to him.

        @Barbara Campbell: I agree with you 100%. I have several friends who were/are flight attendents and its amazing some of the stories they’ve relayed about what goes on during flights.

        • Esquire99 says:

          @Kevin McDonald:
          So you have no problem with some random commenter making an assertion as to the content of a law/regulation without being expected to back it up with the text of the regulation? She’s making a very strong point that this wasn’t merely Delta being a bunch of assholes, but that they were enforcing an FAA regulation. I’m curious as to what regulation that is, or whether it’s simply “I’m a FA, so whatever I say about the FAA rules is true. The reason I know about the rules is because someone who knows someone who knows someone who might have read the rules told me so.” My suspicion is that it’s the latter, and that Barbara actually has no idea whether there truly is such a regulation, and she’s basically making it up as she goes along.

          Prove me wrong.

          • Barbara Campbell says:

            @Esquire99: []

            Read my other post—–Shall we delay the flight while I explain this to other passengers, why HE can sit there? Or because I am having him pass a PE class? Kevin, there are MANY things I can get fined for—I don’t need to “make it up as I go along”—a missing page in my FA manual, an unapproved carseat. A rollerbag thaT someone shoved under a seat that is too big to be there. Someone who appears to be disabled in an exit row. BTW you can NOT sit in an exit row if you have your children with you—even if Mom is sitting with the kids. The pets can’t sit up there with you either..

            I am on a mission to get the verbage from the FAA, and I will post it. I truly love my job —I just don’t always love the people that want to make simple stuff more difficult. Here’s rthe FAA link

            • Karita says:

              @Barbara Campbell: But your link proves that he was allowed to sit in the seat. He demonstrated that he was “physically capable and willing to perform emergency actions when seated in emergency or exit rows.” HE DEMONSTRATED IT.

              The fact that you can get fined has nothing to do with the fact that he was 100% not handicapped and had the right to remain in his seat. I just can’t figure out what your problem with his story is. Yes there are lots of bad passengers, and I feel bad for flight attendants just like I feel bad for anyone in a customer service position. But a demonstration of “non-handicappedness” is more than enough. What about the people with potential issues that aren’t visible? Asthma. Early stages of MS. Blood sugar problems. Anxiety. Low IQ. Unless you are going to require a full physical and psychological workup for anyone sitting in those seats, a demonstration of ability should be more than enough.

              I really don’t understand all these comments.

            • Esquire99 says:

              @Barbara Campbell:
              Good luck on your search; I suspect you won’t find it. Looking disabled != being disabled. You truly believe that a guy who looks disabled, who has not only explained that he isn’t but also visibly demonstrated that he is not, is unfit to sit in your cherished exit row? I will truly be shocked, awed, dumbfounded, if you can provide any sort of proof that merely allowing someone who APPEARS injured/disabled to sit in an exit row, particularly after they have proven to a reasonable degree of certainty that they are NOT injured/disabled is a violation of a rule. In fact, if you can offer such proof, and I mean PROOF as in a citation to an FAA regulation (not just a Delta rule), I will apologize stop commenting on this site permanently.

            • Esquire99 says:

              @Barbara Campbell:
              I apologize. Due to the position of the link within your comment, I missed it the first time. Now I’ll address it:

              First off, Karita is right; that link basically proves you wrong. Second, that isn’t even remotely official. That’s a dumbed-down distillation of the real FAA regulation. I want a citation to the ACTUAL FAA regulation. You’re supposedly a LEAD FLIGHT ATTENDANT. I’m a bit worried that you’re unable to actually figure out what the real rules are. This is the problem with people who are in, forgive me, low-level enforcement jobs. They “just know” what the rules are and enforce them that way. The real rules be damned; if the FA, TSA Agent, rent-a-cop KNOWS that the rule is X, it makes no difference what the rule actually is.

            • redkamel says:

              @Barbara Campbell: none of the other passengers asked if he can sit there. And heres how you explain it.

              “I checked, he doesnt have a hurt neck. He just uses that because its comfortable”.

              I think most reasonable people would get it. Unless they were super anal.

            • etla says:

              @Barbara Campbell: I’m curious, can you be fined for a guy slipping on dark sun glasses in an exit row? After all he would _look_ like a blind person.

              • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

                @etla: Indeed. Or say I am limping because I banged my leg upon boarding the plane, and have a pretty significant charley horse. It is not at all permanent, but I would have the appearance of being disabled. Or at least impaired.

        • redkamel says:

          @Kevin McDonald: how was that a douchebag comment? The OP has no medical condition except for a past hurt neck which doesnt affect him. Please, cite the FAA regulation that says you cant look disabled or use a medical level comfort device, regardless of your actual health, in the emergency row. What if this guy had one of those hard back boards people use in their car? can he sit there then.

          you guys are ridiculous. I am sure flight attendents have good stories, but so do passengers. This FA was out of line.

    • humphrmi says:

      @Barbara Campbell: Read my comment about the senior FA saying all is well, until the douchbag FA spit in his face.

  52. Barbara Campbell says:

    [] The information requested by KMcdonald is on page 4

    • Esquire99 says:

      @Barbara Campbell:
      Well, you’ve gone and proven yourself wrong again, this time in a more official manner. You still have yet to cite to the actual regulation (that’s merely an inspectors manual), but it does a sufficient job of quoting a number of rules that clearly prove you wrong. Here’s the qualifying verbiage that preceeds each function that needs to be performed:
      “personnel prohibit a passenger from occupying an exit seat if the certificate holder determines that the person lacks sufficient mobility, strength, or dexterity in both
      arms and hands, and both legs to [insert emergency activity here].”

      Nowhere in that language does it say “looks like they might lack…” or “rode in a golf cart to the gate.” It simply requires that a person be prohibited from sitting in an exit row if the “certificate holder” (read: the airline) has determined that the person lacks the predefined qualities. The FAA doesn’t say that merely appearing injured or disabled is disqualifying. However, I suspect that won’t change your mind that the guy was unfit to sit in the row because he was wearing a brace, notwithstanding the fact that no reasonable person could say, after his mobility demonstration, that he lacked sufficient mobility, strength or dexterity to perform the required tasks.

  53. Barbara Campbell says:

    The info STARTS on page 4—-keep reading —you’ll see my point… Have a good night all

    • redkamel says:

      @Barbara Campbell: I just read it. Totally disproves your whole argument. The person must have “lacks sufficient mobility, strength, or dexterity in both
      arms and hands, and both legs” and he demonstrated all your stuff. I read the following 3 pages.

      Please increase your reading comprehension level.

      • Barbara Campbell says:

        No problem, I conquer.I’m not going to continue this t and written game of tennis anymore than I would a verbal game on an AC. I’m there to inform not enforce. But please read my very first post and try to be reasonable. I guess what I should have said (and would probably DO) is tell him ” NO brace for take off and landing” That would solve EVERYONE’s problem and cover my butt, too! thishref=”#c13617274″>redkamel:

    • floraposte says:

      @Barbara Campbell: I read it thoroughly, Barbara, and none of it would preclude the OP’s sitting in the exit row. He didn’t lack the ability or will to execute the necessary functions, because there’s nothing wrong with him. He was, under FAA standards, eligible to sit there.

      I wouldn’t actually damn an FA who said “Sorry, I’m going to err on the side of caution and ask you to sit elsewhere.” I agree that it’s the FA’s call. But in this case the senior FA had the chance to listen to the OP and confirm that he was, in fact, able according to FAA guidelines. Which seems a perfectly reasonable call, and I don’t see where you’re drawing the idea that she was mistaken.

    • Esquire99 says:

      @Barbara Campbell:
      Yes, I read ALL of the information. You’re simply wrong. You’re not even bothering to defend your argument by pointing out a specific section of the text and offering your interpretation. Under the FAA rules you have cited, albeit indirectly, there is nothing that would preclude the OP from sitting in that row. A reasonable flight attendant, like the “LFA” in this case, would have realized that he doesn’t lack sufficient mobility, strength or dexterity to perform the necessary functions that come with sitting in an exit row. Again, I think the issue is FAs who are so stuck on the fact that they KNOW the rules that they aren’t willing to listen to reason, even when that reason comes in the form of the ACTUAL rules. That results in situations like the one at hand, with a FA who is on an artificial power trip and is furious that one of his “minions” won’t step into line when he snaps his fingers.

      • Pat Carmichael says:


        “Sufficient mobility” – it’s a subjective measurement, judged by the flight crew, who are God when it comes to this. They get to make the call, and you either can choose not to fly, or to obey. It’s left up to the flight crew intentionally.

        • Patrick Lange says:

          @Pat Carmichael:
          Sure, they have the authority. OP followed the judgment of the flight crew; he just appealed past the first level of judgment.

          Of course, simply having the authority doesn’t mean their judgment is correct. If a flight crew decides all passengers in the exit row need to do headstands, they have the authority, but they’re still idiots.

      • Barbara Campbell says:

        @Esquire99: No Brace for takeoff and landing—-problem solved

        • floraposte says:

          @Barbara Campbell: And that’s exactly what the senior FA told him, as is clear in the article.

          It sounds like you’re thinking that all the FAs refused to let him fly with it and he was pissed because of that, and we’re taking his side. And that’s not what happened; the senior FA said it was okay as long as he didn’t wear it at takeoff and landing. We’re taking her side over the junior FA.

  54. BytheSea says:

    The brace restricts his mobility. That’s why he can’t wear it in the exit row.

    • Esquire99 says:

      So does a pillow, a blanket, a jacket, headphones, a tray table, a laptop, a portfolio w/ a notepad, etc. I suspect the neck brace could be removed just as fast, if not faster, than most of the items listed which don’t make one unfit to sit in said row.

  55. PsiCop says:

    The problem here isn’t that Ned had the neck brace on in the emergency row. Or even that the steward pointed it out and asked him to move.

    It’s that, once Ned reached an agreement about it with the senior flight attendant, that was the end of the matter. Problem solved, case closed. For the steward to rage and fume about it — AFTER the matter was resolved — was EXTREMELY inappropriate.

    BTW I’ve worn a neck brace. Taking one off is not that difficult. In fact it’s much easier than you probably think it is. What would be more of an impediment, is if he actually did have a neck injury, and pain that caused him not to be able to swivel his head around even if he took the brace off. IOW the brace is not the handicap, it’s the injury that makes you wear one. If Ned no longer has that injury, there’s nothing to worry about.

    It’s definitely the case that flight crews are heavy-handed and even abusive at times, after 9/11, and they use TSA personnel as retribution against travelers. I’ve seen it, and it’s not pretty. It needs to stop ASAP.

  56. farker says:

    Read #5


    You aren’t owed an exit row seat for your comfort. It’s for emergency egress from a plane. People seated there need to have full mobility.

    I don’t care if you can wiggle your neck around convincingly; if you feel the need to wear a neck brace while flying, that’s not full mobility! How does the flight crew know that you aren’t suddenly going to have muscle spasms of the neck, or some other issue, while trying to help evacuate the plane?

    Simply put, the OP sounds like a whiner in this letter. So what the flight attendant was curt with you. You were trying to break the rules, and possibly some laws. I would’ve been pretty pissed too. Just because his supervisor was sympathetic to you, doesn’t mean you were in the right.

    Shame on you. I hope you figure out that the world doesn’t revolve around you. You are NOT special and don’t deserve special treatment just because you’re an adult brat.

    • radiantchains says:

      @farker: How does the flight attendant know anyone isn’t going to have “muscle spasms of the neck”? What if there’s a guy who actually has a neck injury but doesn’t want to wear a brace? Guess he’s okay for the exit row.

    • etla says:

      @farker: Does this mean an airline shouldn’t issue pillows to passengers in exit rows? After all if you feel the need for a pillow to hold your head up during a flight you must not have full mobility. Right?

  57. Anonymous says:

    It really is appealing how 3/4ths of the internet ONLY look at the negetive side in order to flame someone!

    It’s like half the internet is either mentally ill in a very serious way and/or has demons from Satan or in the worst case scenario……both. :P

    No matter what a blog is about most of the people look for the tiniest excuse to degrade the uploader if they make the tiniest name calling or typo.

    You commenters need to learn forgiveness if someone makes a tiny error or you’ll all pop blood vessals and just make yourselves sick inside.

    I bet more then half of you would yell at people just like the first attendent over “petty” things.

    Sometimes I wonder if it’s better NOT to have blogs at all!

    I almost hope that these commenters who praise Delta get themselves yelled at someday and I’ll be waiting to see if they sing a different tune. :P

    PS: I also hope if this type of scenario happens again the blogger just complies and after the attendent is out of ear shot THEN mumbles the name calling.

    It will be a less destructive way to vent and the officer won’t come next time.

    Ever since 911 the airliners have had all the power like a King. This is democracy at it’s most retarded form.

  58. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    I’m not sure who’s right here but I do know that someone that wears a neck brace on an airplane without needing one surely qualifies for the “Dork of the Month” club.

  59. shepd says:


    *sigh* You can’t open the hatches in the air, they are designed as pressure plugs.

    But, if you need an example of a situation where some thought is required before doing what others tell you, here we go:

    The plane crashes. You know it crashed. EVERYONE is yelling to leave the plane.

    – Case 1: You don’t bother looking outside. You open the door. Turns out there is a giant fuel fire outside the door. Everyone within a few feet of the door is on fire.

    – Case 2: You spend a few moments thinking about whether or not the door should be opened. You look out the window and notice a fire. You tell everyone there’s a fire outside and instead people leave out the door on the other side. Obviously, this requires mobility.

    Case 2 is actually more common than case 1 when we’re talking about serious crashes that would actually require immediately exiting the plane.

    Did I seriously need the explain all that?

    And if this guy’s neckbrace well, isn’t a neckbrace (one that’s so soft it doesn’t support your head and you can turn your head in it is a neckbrace the same way some extra bandages are a cast) he should have just told the attendants it’s a funny shaped pillow and demonstrated that’s what it is. He KNOWS the exit aisle is a position that REQUIRES proof of fitness.

  60. starzshine says:

    I hate to say it, but posts like this really drive me crazy sometimes. If you read most of the comments they are all discussions on who is right or wrong for making a statement that expresses their personal opinion. This is just silly and unproductive.

  61. pot_roast says:

    The airline and the FAA routinely audit who is sitting in exit rows. Letting someone with a NECK BRACE (regardless of its reason) sit in an exit row could result in termination and a fine for the airline.

    This passenger was being a douche. People lie all the time on flights to try to get themselves better seats/etc.

    • Barbara Campbell says:

      THANK YOU!!!!!!!!@pot_roast:

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      This passenger was being a douche.

      @pot_roast: Yeah, how dare he use something he’d gotten permission from the senior FA to use!

      Seriously, are people not even supposed to ask anything on an airplane?

    • floraposte says:

      @pot_roast: Only if the regulators are making up regulations rather than following them. The guideline is that the passenger has to have the ability to perform the necessary duties. The senior FA ascertained that he did.

  62. brettbee says:

    I’m not going to comment on whether he should have been in the exit row or not. But everybody talking about how this brace restricts his mobility should check out the Brady Bunch episode where Carol has an minor auto accident with the old man. He sues them and shows up for court wearing his neck brace. Mr. Brady saves the day by dropping his briefcase and the man turns his head to see what the noise is. Case dismissed!

  63. Bertmanintx says:

    Well, if the neck brace is ok, then what’s next? A person who sits in with a leg brace? I say if you cant do the job required, then find somewhere else to sit. 99% of the time, nothing happens with the flight. I would not want to be on the 1% flight where the person fails to do their job due to this restriction…

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @Bertmanintx: Slippery slope fail. Just because someone who is uninjured uses a neck brace as a pillow doesn’t mean they’re suddenly going to have to let people who do have a disability or injury sit there.

    • floraposte says:

      @Bertmanintx: This isn’t a legal precedent. It’s a situation where the FA, familiar with what the situation calls for, adjudged the OP up to the situation. It doesn’t rob her of the prerogative to say “Sorry, I’m still going to have to move you” to anybody she feels the need to.

      If there’s somebody who thinks his Ace knee sleeve reduces his chance of DVT, it’s up to the FA to decide if he’s mobile enough to sit in the exit row or not. Same principle.

  64. DoctorMD says:

    Federal regulations require treatment of flight personnel as deities.

  65. rte148 says:

    Ha, the guy wearing the neck brace during a situation that would require usage of the emergency exits is going to be the only one who doesn’t have whiplash.

    They should make everyone in the emergency exits wear them in the first place.

  66. TrueBlue63 says:

    1) It is law not policy about the exit row stuff. You not only have to open the exit door, but agree to hang around to help other passengers (though I have no idea how they enforce that). So the attendant could have been worried that he was being tested by the airline.

    BUT, if what Ned describes is true, the attendant well exceeded his boundaries.

    2) If someone from an airline treats your rudely, the process to get your grievance dealt with is VERY VERY SIMPLE.

    Don’t bother with emails or phone calls, go straight to paper. Send your letter to the complaint dept, but also copy it to:

    the CEO of the airline
    the FAA Consumer Protection Division
    Your Congressman and Senators
    and if you live in a city with a consumer advocate who runs for election that is a good one too.

    You see the airlines don’t want your congressman or senator who might be looking for a way to get on TV helping out a local, taking up your cause.

    Ditto the FAA, not for TV, but a slew of other reasons

    Consumer Advocates are always looking for someone to sue.

    Your complaint will be handled rapidly and you will get compensation promptly.

    For a far less grievous incident I was given a $200 voucher with no minimum purchase or restrictions. Also got a bunch of coupons for in flight entertainment (booze).

  67. hypochondriac says:

    I was with the FA until the Senior FA gave approval. If the FA had done nothing and god forbid an emergency happened where people were killed or injured. You can bet lawyers would point to this guy as say seem the Airline is so irresponsible they let Handicap people sit in Emergency exits against federal laws.

    Won’t matter he’s not really handicap. Delta would get a bad rep.

  68. Snullbug says:

    Delta. Seriously, when are people going to learn

  69. stlbud says:

    I’m so glad I don’t have to fly for work any more. I certainly would not do it for recreation these days. How any industry gets away with abusing their customers in the multitude of ways the airline industry does is completely beyond my comprehension. It is time for passengers to make it plain they are customers, they are paying the bills and should be treated with respect. The adage “The customer is always right.” should apply and it is time we make sure it still has value.

    Bill B

  70. bigduke says:

    Does half the airline industry post on the consumerist? If you don’t notice that the level of service, respect, and overall general humanity has steadliy declined in this industry since its inception, your just not flying.

    I traveled this weekend and I noticed that both Delta and United made a big point of stating the the main reason that flight attendants where even on the plane was for my “safety”. It sounded like the statement was prepared by lawyers.

    Dear Airline industry and the group of schills that love them here, I’m sorry your in a bad business model, I’m sorry that you treat your employees like crap. I’m sorry that your employees seem to feel that their only recourse is to take out their problems on your customers.

    I am a moderate flyer, I travel 4-5 times a year. I cannot recall a time in the last 7 years that I have had a perfect customer experience. That’s 30+ chances and not a home run hit yet.

    That is shameful, and making excuses for it does not help.

    • Barbara Campbell says:

      I’m sorry that your experiences have been less than pleasant. Let me begin by saying I leave my ‘broom’ at home, lol. I love my job, and my whole working history has been customer service. I look forward to going to work as it’s always an adventure. Enough of the cheerleading, some people ARE impossible to please, just as some FAs are control freaks.I work with many more that I’m proud to fly with, and feel as I do. I hope to see you on one of my flights, and I promise, I’ll do my best to ensure your comfort and SAFETY. Have a great day. bigduke:

      • bigduke says:

        @Barbara Campbell:

        I’m not saying people don’t try, and I’m not saying that there are not some great employess in this industry who do go above and beyond every day. In fact many times I have recieved great service from people AFTER someone else in your company has dropped the ball. In my industry we call that being a great fireman, and there are certainly those people out there. Unfortunatley there are plenty of fire starters running around as well.

        It only takes a few bad apples, and I am also aware that “SH$% rolls downhill”. In these Seven years I have had many moments where people get it right, just never over the course of an entire trip. A great example was the gate agent From Northwest who booked me on a flight from Dallas to Pheonix and then a red-eye back to Detroit after American Airlines cancelled my flight from Dallas to Lansing to attend my grandfather’s funeral. I got no sleep but I made it, and that agent did NOT have to work that hard.

        I know there are good people out there who try. I blame your bosses, and the unrealistic pressure they put on you. However, since 9/11 much like Law enforcement, I have consistently seen the “safety” card played to settle any minor dispute, often times with a totally excessive response.

        Ticket agents used to have a supervisor to back them up to settle disputes, now they run on a skeleton crew and they call the airport police at the first hint of a dispute. I have seen it happen more then once.

        The Consumerist is litterd with stories of people treated like crap or criminals or worse for the most minor of issues.

        It’s killing your industry, just as much as the high cost of fuel.

    • Barbara Campbell says:

      Thanks Bigduke,you get the picture. When I get to the point I want to take it out on pax, I’ll hang up my broom, oops I mean wings. @bigduke: