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Based on Roddy's question about nobody volunteering for the exit row, I can imagine a related but more extreme scenario: what if there are no passengers on the plane who are eligible for an exit row seat? (Say if you had a charter flight full of seniors.) Do the exit rows simply remain empty in that case? How would the operator ensure that the overwing exits are usable in case they are needed?

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  • $\begingroup$ A charter full of kids probably wouldn't be the best example, since children usually aren't allowed to fly unaccompanied. There would always be either teachers or parents on board. $\endgroup$ – Nzall Jun 21 '16 at 8:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Nzall -- good point $\endgroup$ – UnrecognizedFallingObject Jun 21 '16 at 11:36
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    $\begingroup$ It could be a flight full of kids and seniors! (I took many a road trip with my grandparents, neither of whom would have been eligible for an exit row seat.) $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Jun 21 '16 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Nzall In the US the cutoff for unaccompanied children appears to be at 5 years for direct flights. Not sure if it's a law or they just all standardized on the same limit but Google shows the same floor for American, United and Southwest airlines. (No selection bias other than these being the first 3 results I got in Google.) $\endgroup$ – Dan Neely Jun 21 '16 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ @DanNeely Even if they're registered as unaccompanied, it would be VERY unrealistic for an entire plane to be filled with unaccompanied children. Almost sounds a plot for a bad kid's movie. $\endgroup$ – Nzall Jun 21 '16 at 14:04
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In such an extreme case, the row would be unoccupied.

Nothing says that the row has to have people in it; I've had flights with under a dozen passengers, and if everybody had seats up front, the row would be empty, and that's okay.

You can't have unqualified people in the Emergency Exit row -- that's the limitation. Nothing requires the FA's the move qualified people into the row. That typically does happen (and as has been pointed out elsewhere, that row is often desirable due to legroom), but it's okay if the row remains empty.

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    $\begingroup$ Nothing requires the FA's the move qualified people into the row. That typically does happen I've read in several different places that this does NOT usually happen. Due to the extra leg room those seats often cost slightly more and several people have said that they asked if they could move there since it was unoccupied and the answer was an unequivocal "no." $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Jun 21 '16 at 18:26

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