Only when I chanced on this /r/LifeProTips post, did I know

Most airplane aisle seats have a small lever or button on the underside of the armrest, near the hinge. Pushing or sliding this lever will release the hinge lock, allowing you to raise the armrest.

When horizontal and down, aisle armrests obviously hinders exit during emergencies when saving seconds can save lives, especially for more obese passengers. So why isn't this hidden button/lever disclosed to passengers, like in the mandatory safety briefing or video?

I'm not asking about armrests between seats that don't require a hidden switch to lift.


The FAA provides some useful links in their cabin safety index document here. It seems according to this document, as well as this bulletin arm resets (in general) may actually provide a bigger safety risk when lifted and that they should be placed in the down position for takeoff and landing for emergency reasons:

3-3484 PROTRUDING PASSENGER SEAT ARMRESTS. Inspection of the Hardman Model 9500 and other passenger seats installed on several aircraft disclosed that the armrest in the upright or stowed position can protrude approximately 45 degrees aft the seatback. In the event of an emergency evacuation, protruding armrests could present an obstacle between seat passageways, obstructing emergency exit access. Air carriers should emphasize to F/As that prior to takeoff and landing they verify that the armrests are in the normal forward/down position in order to ensure that they do not obstruct the passageway between the row of seats leading from the aisle to the emergency exit.

Also it would seem that according to §382.61 What are the requirements for movable aisle armrests? the movable arm rests are mainly there to allow the easier seating of those with limited mobility and not intended to aid in evacuation.

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    $\begingroup$ easier seating of those with limited mobility Would that not include easier exit of those with reduced mobility? This one never made sense to me either. The better reaction would be to simply make sure the armrests are designed so that they don’t protrude backwards when stowed. The ones in between seats don’t. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Feb 23 '19 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ @TomMcW "those with limited mobility" = those in wheelchairs, it allows them to slide from the cabin aisle chair to the seat. In an evaucation, those passengers would wait until normal passengers have left, to be carried off by cabin crew or rescue personnel. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Feb 24 '19 at 2:37
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    $\begingroup$ @user71659 Which would still be easier with the armrest out of the way. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Feb 24 '19 at 2:40
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    $\begingroup$ @TomMcW And that would occur with trained personnel present, just like how they got into the seat. So there's no reason to tell the passenger to play with the armrest and introduce a new factor to screw things up. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Feb 24 '19 at 2:41

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