Who can book and sit in exit row seats on British Airways?

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Who can book and sit in the exit row seats on British Airways?  It is not a simple question as there are legal issues as well as ones imposed by BA.

British Airways places restrictions on who can book exit rows on its aircraft, in the same way that they restrict the first row of every aircraft to British Airways Executive Club Gold card holders.

The BA rules are in addition to the legal restrictions on exit row seats which the Civil Aviation Authority administers. This means that you must be over the age of 12 and able-bodied to be seated in an exit row since you are required to operate the exit in case of an emergency. You can read more about the CAA requirements here.

The rules for booking exit rows on British Airways are as follows:

On shorthaul aircraft, those with Executive Club Silver or oneworld Sapphire status (or higher) are able to book exit row seats free of charge at time of booking. Bronze and oneworld Ruby members can book these free of charge 7 days prior to departure.

On longhaul flights, Gold members are permitted to book exit row seats at time of booking for themselves and their companions on the same booking. All other members can pay for an exit row seat between 14 and 4 days before departure.

In reality, there may be occasions when you cannot select an empty seat even if meet the status requirements.  On lightly loaded flights, for example, British Airways will often stop anyone booking the seat next to a Gold member.

This article explains how much it costs to reserve an exit row seat on British Airways if you have no status.

(This article is part of our ‘BA Q&A’ series which explains how British Airways Executive Club works.  You can see all of our ‘BA Q&A’ articles here. )

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