Lights in the aisle will guide you towards an exit.

I've sat through a lot of safety briefings (for commercial scheduled passenger flights) and always found this sentence especially uninformative. Usually the cabin crew pantomime will include some vague gestures towards the floor of the aisles at this point, but even with airlines that use pre-produced videos for their briefings it seems that the video never actually shows those guiding lights in action.

Are they moving dots of light in the floor that chase towards the nearest exit row? Are they fixed lights that are shaped like arrows, pointing to the exits? Or just a strip of light that will tell me, "here is the aisle", but I'll need to figure out by myself which way along it to crawl?

  • $\begingroup$ There’s a door at both front and rear of the aircraft, just follow the strips and you’ll find a door. $\endgroup$
    – Notts90
    Apr 1, 2018 at 11:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Notts90 Except the Boeing 747 upper deck and lower deck nose section, which is why that design is considered obsolete and prohibited by certification standards. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Apr 1, 2018 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ @user71659 there’s an exception to every rule lol but as you say, they’re obsolete designs and have you ever actually been in one? They’re not exactly big areas so it’d be hard to go the wrong way. $\endgroup$
    – Notts90
    Apr 1, 2018 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ I suspect that the lighting would deliberately not direct you to a particular exit as it may not be open. Pre-flight instruction is to familiarise yourself with the nearest exits in front and behind and then you make the decision (unless otherwise instructed). $\endgroup$
    – Transistor
    Apr 1, 2018 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Notts90: Sure - if they're not damaged, underwater, blocked by incapacitated passengers or fire. Hence my comment. $\endgroup$
    – Transistor
    Apr 2, 2018 at 8:11

2 Answers 2


The Floor Proximity Emergency Escape Path marking requirements (for transport category aircraft certified under FAR Part 25) have to meet the specific requirements as noted in the regulatory excerpt below. There are different configurations that may be used to satisfy the regulations.

FAR §25.812 Emergency lighting. (excerpt):

(...) In the dark of the night, the floor proximity emergency escape path marking must enable each passenger to—

(1) After leaving the passenger seat, visually identify the emergency escape path along the cabin aisle floor to the first exits or pair of exits forward and aft of the seat; and

(2) Readily identify each exit from the emergency escape path by reference only to markings and visual features not more than 4 feet above the cabin floor.

Here is a sample from the Flight Safety Foundation showing an example of floor proximity escape path markings.

enter image description here

Also, here is a link to a Flight Safety Foundation article regarding floor proximity lighting.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Also, wow, those Lufthansa pictures look like something out of the 1960s. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2018 at 9:31
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    $\begingroup$ Are there not blacked out arrows pointing to the exits? What more would you want? $\endgroup$
    – Mike Brass
    Mar 31, 2018 at 10:22
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    $\begingroup$ @MikeBrass: Are you asking me? I don't know whether there are blacked-out arrows pointing to the exits -- as I said, I have never seen the system in action, and the images in this answer don't seem to show any such arrows. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2018 at 11:43
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    $\begingroup$ @JörgWMittag: In the pictures here I see some amorphous dark spots in the glowing band, which I suppose are screws holding the band in place. But no arrows. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2018 at 16:27
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    $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm - they are arrows, see: same photo but higher res and color. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Mar 31, 2018 at 20:05

In the typical safety briefing, there is normally a statement to look around you to locate the nearest exits and a reminder that it may be behind you. If you did that, you'll know whether to go forward or aft to find the exit.

As for the floor lighting, 757toga's answer show an example of photoluminescent lighting elements. They have special considerations, primarily assuring they are adequatey "charged". The FAA addresses demonstrating compliance of them in AC 25.812-2.

Most older systems use a series of lights spaced at regular intervals. Lights are white along most of the aisle and are red adjacent to the exit rows. So follow the white lights until you reach red lights where you can exit. Compliance information for these systems are in AC 25.812-1A.


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