Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Carpal Tunnel and The Exit Row

Earlier today I was officially diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrom and given braces I can wear on my wrists when I use the computer to ease the effects.

Just now, on a flight from DC to Boston, I was lucky enough to get put in the exit row. As we hit cruising altitude I busted out my laptop and my new accessories. As I'm working away, the flight attendent comes over and tells me that when we land I need to *not* be sitting in the exit row.

Oh, the braces - I explained those were just for typing comfort. When we landed, I wouldn't have them on.

He didn't care. He said he had seen me use them and that was that.

And sure enough, when we started the landing process, he had me switch seats.

The logic of this is a bit baffling - when we were flying and you could argue I didn't have full dexterity in my hands, I could sit in the exit row. But, when I had the braces off, and we were landing - well, that was off limits.

I guess the airline is just being better-safe-than-sorry, but still, it seems a bit whacky.

This is America, so I should be suing someone for this, shouldn't I?


  1. After seeing the photo in your previous post, I can see why the flight attendant felt that way. The braces suggest that you have some sort of hand injury (which technically you do), and the braces themselves, not just your own physical ability, could potentially impede your ability to perform the emergency procedures.

    FWIW, some of the airlines post their exit row seating requirements online, including American and Southwest.

    Some experts have argued (1, 2) that passengers should require some sort of training to be qualified for exit row seating. After the infamous landing in the Hudson, I think many passengers take these requirements much more seriously.

    I sometimes find it mildly amusing (not much else about flying is), when someone gets booted from the exit row because the FA doesn't think they can comprehend English sufficiently.

  2. Look at that, Helmstetter on the side of The Man ;-)

    Actually, I wouldn't have been too surprised if he had asked me to move when I had the braces on, as it does reduce my dexterity.

    Maybe it's the fact that at takeoff, my word that I'm qualified to open the door is good enough, yet the presence of the ugly braces disqualified my word.

    Either way, I don't think the airline did anything wrong. It was just an odd experience.

  3. Oh, and on Airtran's website they don't mention anything about wearing braces, or appearing as though you can't lift 50 pounds.

    Neither does American or Southwest.

  4. Just an fyi from a fellow CTS sufferer -- when you're not laptopping but have the option for a full keyboard, please splurge on a split keyboard style. Seriously. Within probably less than an hour my serious symptons dissipated. Now, working at home on a laptop, brings back those symptons but not as severely. There are a few styles of split-keyboards, so feel free to try them out. I'm now brace free.