In the worst case, passengers with seats at the emergency exit have to act fast and thorough. That can be problematic if they are drunk.
Anyone who is asked by the cabin crew shortly after boarding whether they speak English or the national language of the airline might be lucky: there might be a need for passengers in the rows of seats next to the emergency exits. Those who volunteer to switch seats are rewarded with more legroom.
However, nobody can sit in an emergency exit row without being instructed by the crew. If worst comes to worst, every move when opening the emergency doors must be perfectly executed – especially in the case of rapid smoke development, only a few seconds can be crucial for a successful evacuation. A complete mental awareness is necessary – but what happens if a passenger drinks alcohol at his emergency exit seat during the flight?
No specific ban
Most authorities do not impose a strict ban on alcohol when you’re seated in an emergency exit row. Almost all airlines that offer alcoholic beverages on board can also serve them to passengers in front of the emergency exits. However, there is an indirect regulation limiting the serving of alcohol.
For instance, airlines are only allowed to occupy the seats at the emergency exits with passengers who are not physically impaired and are in good physical condition. This does not include intoxicated passengers. For this reason, many cabin crews already look closely at who is sitting in front of the “Exit” signs when boarding.
Discretionary powers of the crews required
«The crew makes sure that guests at the emergency exit are always able to play their possible role there,» a Lufthansa spokesman explained to aeroTELEGRAPH. Should passengers come on board already drunk and stagger towards the emergency exit, the crew is allowed to move them to another seat. It is also possible to refuse further serving of alcohol to passengers who take their seat sober and later drift towards intoxication.