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Asiana halts sales of exit row seats after door incident

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : May 29, 2023 - 15:45

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A stewardess mounts a safety bar across the emergency exit of the A321-200 aircraft that opened before landing on Friday. (Yonhap) A stewardess mounts a safety bar across the emergency exit of the A321-200 aircraft that opened before landing on Friday. (Yonhap)

Asiana Airlines, South Korea's second-largest airline, said Monday it has halted the sales of seats next to emergency exits following a recent incident in which a passenger opened an emergency exit door before landing.

Currently, the air carrier operates two types of A320-200 aircraft, the same model that took flight during the door-opening incident, with 174 and 195 passenger seats, respectively. Sales of the two seats 26A and 30A in each aircraft will be discontinued indefinitely.

An Asiana Airlines spokesperson explained that the suspension of sales of the seats comes as it is difficult for flight attendants to control the movements of passengers sitting adjacent to the emergency exits due to the structure of the A321-200 aircraft.

The spokesperson added that even if the flights are full, the seats in question will not be available for sale.

Other aircraft models operated by Asiana Airlines will continue to sell seats next to the emergency exit as before.

The nation’s two largest air carriers Korean Air and Asiana Airlines have sold exit row seats at a premium for international routes as they are favored by passengers due to the extra legroom.

In the aftermath of the door accident, however, airlines are also reviewing their own policies for exit row sales.

Air Seoul, a subsidiary of Asiana Airlines and a low-cost carrier that operates the same A321-200 aircraft, said they also stopped the sales of seats adjacent to the emergency exit from Sunday.

Jin Air, another low-cost carrier owned by Korean Air, said they are also discussing the matter at hand.

"It is probable that Jin Air will (discuss the possibility of changing its seat sales policy), but nothing has been decided yet," said a Jin Air official.

Earlier on Friday, a male passenger on the Asiana Airlines flight opened the emergency exit door just before landing at Daegu Airport.

Due to the incident, some nine passengers showed symptoms of hyperventilation due to severe panic. However, none of the people aboard the plane were severely injured during the incident.

As of Monday, the Daegu District Court issued an arrest warrant for the male passenger who opened the exit door for the alleged violation of aviation security law.