Scared of flying? These are the safest seats on an airplane
Next time you’re at an airport, look at the people around you. Odds are a good number of them are suffering from aviophobia, the fear of flying. In fact, you may be one of them!
According to Time, this phobia is one of the most common ones out there, affecting between 2.5% and 6.5% of the entire population. That may not sound like much, but it’s significant when you consider that the well-known phobia of heights (acrophobia) affects only 2% to 5% of the population.
So for those of you who lie awake at night worrying the day before your flight is scheduled, you may be interested in knowing what seats are the safest to book. We’ve got you covered with information on where the safest spot on a plane is so that the next time you’re in the air you can feel a little bit better knowing you’re in the best possible position should the worst happen (knock on wood!).
Toward the back is best
In 2015 Time analyzed data from the Federal Aviation Administration’s CSRTG Aircraft Accident Database to find an answer to the question: what seats are statistically safest in an aircraft? They looked at information from 17 different crashes that occurred between 1985 and 2000.
According to their findings, middle seats towards the back of the aircraft have the lowest fatality rate at 28%, followed by all seats in the back third of the plane with a 32% fatality rate.
So if the back is safest, that must make the front the most dangerous, right? Wrong. Time found that the worst seats were actually those in the middle third of the plane with a 39% fatality rate, and aisle seats in this area are especially deadly with a staggering 44% fatality rate.
Front seats ranked second in terms of risk, though not by much, at a fatality rate of 38%.
But wait! Before you start switching all of your flight tickets to rear seats, consider the fact that these numbers were gleaned from only 17 data sets. Time goes on to explain that in several accidents, survival was random throughout the plane. Much of determining the safest seats has to do with the nature of the crash – will the nose hit first or the tail? Without knowing these details, the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) states that really, there is no safest spot on a plane.
So are we simply at the mercy of fate?
In a way, yes. But historically, fate is on our side, with plane crashes proving increasingly rare and fatalities from crashes even more rare.
The National Safety Council puts the odds of dying (in the U.S.) as a passenger in an airplane at a whopping 1 in 188,364. That’s behind things like a dog attack, hot surfaces, sunstroke, and bicycling. A popular phrase is that you’re more likely to die on the way to the airport than in the plane itself, given that the odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 103.
This is all to prove that worrying about dying in a plane – or in any way for that matter – is little more than a waste of time and energy.
If you’re the type of person that likes to feel prepared, however, it is more helpful to research ways to survive a crash than simply looking to book the safest seat. CBS News published tips for plane crash survival that include paying attention to the safety briefing and taking note of emergency exits. They even go into the best body position to prepare for impact, with feet against the seat in front of you, arm across your knees, and head held down on a pillow in your lap. You should also be aware of toxic gases and smoke post-crash since this is actually what is more likely to be fatal.
It’s okay to be prepared, but not obsessive
Do you find yourself hyperventilating as you wait to board your plane? Sweating profusely before take-off? Running through the worst-case scenarios in your head?
If this is you, you are probably suffering from aviophobia, and there are ways to combat this excessive anxiety.
NBC News suggests that first, you must re-route your thinking. Reinforce the facts in your head, focus on the slim likelihood instead of indulging in your fantasies of disaster. Replace thoughts like “I know this plane will crash” with thoughts like “the thought of this plane crashing scares me, but I know it is incredibly unlikely”.
Distraction is also your friend in this case, so put on an entertaining movie or read your favorite book to try and get your mind off of the worst.
If these things don’t work, it’s always a good idea to ask for help. There are plenty of professionals who know how to maneuver phobias and help you work to improve them, because you don’t want to put yourself through the wringer every time you visit family across the country.
So sure, book your seat in the safest spot on a plane if it makes you feel better. Then when you get to that seat, practice some deep breathing exercises. There are plenty of good things about flying, like amazing views and free snacks. Try to focus on those instead, and you might find that when you get past the crippling fear, traveling via plane is actually kind of fun.