The Safest Place to Sit on an Aeroplane

Because dying on a plane is bad for your health.

Despite air travel being statistically safer than most other forms of transport, many of us are still scared of it. It’s probably due to the fact that when planes crash, we don’t imagine survivors. Although most plane crashes (over 90%) have at least one survivor, it’s not something I want to experience for myself. Despite taking multiple flights for every year of the past decade, I am still a little bit scared of flying. I am one of the passengers who likes to shut their eyes and squeeze tightly on the arm rests during take-off, landing, and turbulence.

I recently thought that maybe there is a seat on an aeroplane that is significantly safer than others. It turns out that there is.

I first heard that sitting over the wing of a plane is the safest place to be because it is the most robust part of a plane. Alas, a recent study has shown that this is absolute poppy-cock (look that phrase up if you don’t know it). A study of 30 years of aircraft crashes concluded that survival rates of passengers sitting over the wing of a plane was around 56%. 49% of passengers survived in front of the wing, while a massive 69% survived behind the wing. In short, the closer to the back you are, the better. Thus, even first class has it’s drawbacks.


Studies also revealed that passengers sitting within six rows of an exit had a significantly larger chance of survival than those sitting further away. Negligible increases in survival rates where noted when sitting next to the window and unsurprisingly, most injuries occurred when passengers were not seated or belted.

Your chance of being killed in a plane crash stands close to one in five million, so despite your (and my) fears, it is not very likely. If you want to give yourself that little extra boost, sit down with your belt on next to a window, close to an exit, towards the back of a plane.

A Little Extra Advice

I recommend (and actively engage in) bracing oneself against the back of the seat in front when landing. Despite this behaviour not having any know safety benefits and at times, generating amusement in nearby passengers, when flying with Ethiopian airlines several years ago, my plane bounced upon landing and my brace position protected me from injury.

Incidentally, no-one else on that plane was injured during landing.

By | 2013-12-17T05:11:45+00:00 March 29th, 2013|Advice|3 Comments


  1. Jason 10/12/2013 at 17:28 - Reply

    Don’t forget that long periods of sitting in an aircraft will increase your chances of developing cancer, thanks to the toxic air that we are all breathing on each flight.

  2. Mim 02/04/2013 at 14:05 - Reply

    For those playing along at home, Poppycock is also a rather delicious (dare I say addictive) snack of candied popcorn and nut clusters. Yum…

    • Jamie 02/04/2013 at 14:15 - Reply

      Sounds delicious. If you just jump on the back of a plane, near a safety exit and a window, I’d be happy for you to bring me some.

Leave A Comment