Air travel is remarkably safe, which is best summed up with the following statistic:
If you take one flight a day, you would on average need to fly every day for 55,000 years before being involved in a fatal crash.
But that doesn’t mean that plane crashes don’t ever happen.
So if you’re wondering where the safest place to sit on a plane is, it is at the back of the plane.
Table of Contents
- 1 Safest Places to Sit on a Plane
- 2 Why Sitting At the Back of the Plane Isn’t Guaranteed to Be Safer
- 3 Is the Left or Right Side of the Plane Safer?
- 4 Where You Should Sit to Avoid Getting Sick
- 5 The Most Dangerous Place to Sit
- 6 Your Chances of Surviving a Plane Crash
- 7 Most Dangerous Airlines
- 8 Safest Airlines
Safest Places to Sit on a Plane
If you want to increase your odds of surviving a plane crash, the middle seats at the back of the plane are the safest, with a 28% fatality rate if you are involved in a plane crash.
The downside to sitting at the back of the plane, though, is that passengers usually disembark from the front of the plane, so you will be the last to get off, and at the back you will experience more turbulence.
However, if there is a fire, passengers at the front of the plane and those within five rows of an exit have a better survival rate.
- Back third of the aircraft: 32% fatality rate
- Middle third of the aircraft: 39% fatality rate
- Front third of the aircraft: 38% fatality rate
Why Sitting At the Back of the Plane Isn’t Guaranteed to Be Safer
Even though the stats show that sitting at the back of the plane is generally safer than the front of the plane, this is by no means guaranteed.
If we look at the world’s most devastating plane crash, known as the Tenerife Airport Disaster, when two Boeing 747 passenger jets collided on the runway at Los Rodeos Airport in 1977, the 61 passengers and crew that survived were sitting at the front of the plane.
Your odds of surviving a plane crash have more to do with the way the plane crashes and other circumstances.
For example, if the plane’s tail gets most of the impact, the passengers at the back of the plane will inevitably have a lower chance of survival than passengers sitting towards the front of the plane.
Is the Left or Right Side of the Plane Safer?
There is no difference when sitting on the left or right side of the plane, as no statistics have proved that one side increases your chance of survival than the other.
It comes down to the circumstances of the plane crash.
Where You Should Sit to Avoid Getting Sick
It’s common for people to catch a cold and get sick on a plane.
So if you want to avoid catching a cold on your next flight, it’s best to try and book a seat that has an empty seat next to it.
While this unfortunately isn’t always possible, especially during busy travel periods, the next best thing is to sit in the very last rows, as it’s more likely that there will be fewer people next to you and behind you.
The Most Dangerous Place to Sit
Sitting on either side of the aisle in the middle of the aircraft is the most dangerous place to sit on a plane, with a fatality rate of 44% if you are involved in a plane crash.
Your Chances of Surviving a Plane Crash
According to a study conducted by the European Transport Safety Council, if you are involved in a plane crash, you have a 90% chance of survival.
Most Dangerous Airlines
The most dangerous airlines are Air France and American Airlines, as they have been involved in the most plane crashes worldwide, with 11 each.
American Airlines have suffered 858 fatalities, China Airlines 760 fatalities, and Malaysia Airlines 537 fatalities.
For U.S. airlines:
- American Airlines: 858 fatalities
- United Airlines: 288 fatalities
- Delta Air Lines: 134 fatalities
- Alaska Airlines: 88 fatalities
- Southwest Airlines: 1 fatality
- Horizon Air: 1 fatality
To determine the safest airline, we have referred to AirlineRatings.com, which “takes into account a number of different factors related to audits from aviation’s governing bodies, lead associations as well as the airlines own safety data.”
According to this data, the safest airlines in the world are Air New Zealand, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and TAP Air Portugal.
In the U.S., the safest airlines (in order) are Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).