@richard – thanks.
For 1), I wasn’t sure b/c the same manual also says to remove the entire center console to get to it, but in reality, just removing the side kick panels is all that’s needed. I also called a body shop in town who told me it was way overkill to unplug. But I figured if someone knew you had a better chance of winning the lottery than setting off the airbag, I’d probably be ok with those odds. But, yeah, that would suck to have them deploy!
On 2), I can’t really find too much info on their reliability/safety, I was hoping someone who’s had a lot experience with that kind of svc might be able to enlighten me a little more. I will definitely need to feel real confident about it to go that route, though…don’t want to take chances on something like airbags.