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Whenever I fly with Lufthansa, if I want to sit next to the emergency exits, I have to satisfy some criteria such as:

  1. Be able to communicate in German or English
  2. Be at least 16 years old
  3. Be able in good physical shape so as to be able to open the door(I don't recall the exact wording Lufthansa used)

Now this is not a full list, but it gives you an idea. Later on I took a flight with another company (still an European company). This company was proposing to get those seats for an additional cost (as they have much more leg space), and with no criteria to satisfy. Upon boarding the plane, I noticed that the people sitting in those seats were above 60 y/o, so I doubt they would be able to open the door. So I wonder are there any regulations in EU?

I saw an answer for the FAA regulations over here: link, but I wonder how is it in EU.

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    $\begingroup$ The requirements vary, but I've never seen a maximum age listed, only the general criteria that they be able to perform the functions required (for window exits, some airlines say you must be able to lift 20kg or similar, as the exit is heavy). Certainly many people above the age of 60 qualify, while a number of people below 60 will not. $\endgroup$ – Zach Lipton Aug 8 '17 at 1:58
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EU No 965/2012 provides some direction.

CAT.OP.MPA.165 Passenger seating

The operator shall establish procedures to ensure that passengers are seated where, in the event that an emergency evacuation is required, they are able to assist and not hinder evacuation of the aircraft.

Further clarification can be found from Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM) to Part-CAT.

AMC2 CAT.OP.MPA.165 Passenger seating

ACCESS TO EMERGENCY EXITS

The following categories of passengers are among those who should not be allocated to, or directed to, seats that permit direct access to emergency exits:

(a) passengers suffering from obvious physical or mental disability to the extent that they would have difficulty in moving quickly if asked to do so;

(b) passengers who are either substantially blind or substantially deaf to the extent that they might not readily assimilate printed or verbal instructions given;

(c) passengers who because of age or sickness are so frail that they have difficulty in moving quickly;

(d) passengers who are so obese that they would have difficulty in moving quickly or reaching and passing through the adjacent emergency exit;

(e) children (whether accompanied or not) and infants;

(f) deportees, inadmissible passengers or persons in custody; and

(g) passengers with animals.

Whether or not a person can sit in the emergency exit row may also depend on if the specific seat is designated as an emergency exit. For example, on narrow body aircraft, generally all seats in the emergency exit row are considered emergency exit seats and only persons who "able to assist" can sit in those locations. However, on some wide body aircraft, only seats on the window sides are considered emergency exit seats. On an aircraft with a 2-3-2 configuration, the 3 seats in the middle are not considered exit row seats and therefore do not have any further safety requirements.

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