Don’t just wing it.
Travelers book airplane seats for different reasons — they want more legroom, a view from the window, or a quick exit after landing — but is there a seat that can keep you the safest in the unlikely event of a crash?
According to aviation specialist Doug Drury, the dreaded middle seat is statistically the safest if the plane goes down.
“The middle seats are safer than the window or aisle seats, that is, as you might expect, because of the buffer provided by having people on either side,” the aviation professor at Central Queensland University said in the Conversation.
Running through the various seating options, Drury noted that sitting next to an exit row will ensure the fastest exit if there is an emergency — as long as there’s no fire on that side.
But not all exit rows are created equal.
“Wings of a plane store fuel, so this disqualifies the middle exit rows as the safest row option,” Drury added before landing on his choice. “At the same time, being closer to the front means you’ll be impacted before those in the back, which leaves us with the last exit row.”
The safest seat may differ slightly depending on the type and size of airplane, Drury said, but the physics of flying remain the same for all aircrafts.
“Generally, larger planes will have more structural material and therefore more strength to withstand pressurization at altitude,” the aviation expert wrote. “This means they may provide some additional protection in an emergency — but this, again, is highly dependent on the severity of the emergency.”
Some 229 people died last year from 12 plane catastrophes worldwide, FlightGlobal reports. Last March, 123 passengers and nine crew members died when a China Eastern Airlines-operated Boeing 737-800 crashed.
But plane crashes are not very common. According to the US National Safety Council’s analysis of census data, the odds of dying in a plane are about 1 in 205,552, compared to 1 in 102 in a car.