Safest Place to Sit on a Plane During a Crash Landing

Fancied Facts
14 min readJun 1, 2024


The panic before the plane crash | By Fancied Facts

Determining the safest place to sit on a plane is a topic of interest and importance for many travelers, especially in light of airplane safety concerns. While air travel remains one of the safest modes of transportation, understanding the nuances of aircraft accident data and how seat position relates to plane crash injuries can offer an additional layer of reassurance. Whether aisle seats, window seats, or middle seats provide the most significant safety or if the wing is the safest place to sit on a plane is not just about comfort but could be a critical factor in the unlikely event of a crash landing.

Let’s take you through the best seat for safety, incorporating insights from aircraft accident data and considerations like plane crash impact and the specific challenges of plane crashes over water. You will learn about the significance of seat belts on planes, how different seating positions (aisle, window, middle seats) could affect your safety, and tips for pre-crash preparations. Furthermore, we’ll delves into survival strategies post-crash, including bracing for impact and effectively evacuating the aircraft.

Image by DC Studio on Freepik

Understanding Airplane Safety

Aviation has long been recognized as one of the safest modes of travel. Meticulous attention to safety protocols and innovations significantly reduces the odds of being involved in a plane crash to one in 11 million. This incredible safety record results from familiar measures like seat belts, life vests, and a range of lesser-known safety features and technologies designed to protect passengers in various scenarios.

Safety Features and Technologies

  1. Flameless Venting Systems: In the unlikely event of a fuel tank explosion or fire, these systems release pressure without allowing flames to escape, mitigating the risk of fire spreading within the aircraft.
  2. Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS): EVS utilizes infrared cameras to provide pilots with a clear view of the runway during low-visibility conditions, significantly improving landing safety.
  3. Tail Strike Prevention: Sensors on the aircraft’s tail detect if the plane’s tail is at risk of striking the runway during takeoff or landing, allowing pilots to adjust their approach.
  4. Emergency Slides: Designed for rapid deployment, these slides enable passengers to evacuate the aircraft quickly in an emergency.
  5. Electric Windshield Heaters: These heaters prevent ice buildup on the cockpit windshield, ensuring pilots have clear visibility.
  6. Hydraulic Fuses: In case of damage to a hydraulic line, these fuses automatically seal off the damaged section, maintaining the functionality of critical systems like landing gear and brakes.
  7. Impact Absorbing Seats: Aircraft seats are engineered to absorb impact energy, offering additional protection to passengers during a crash.
  8. Smoke Detection Systems: These systems continuously monitor the cabin air for smoke or fire, enabling quick identification and response to potential fire situations.

The Human Factor in Aviation Safety

The dedication and training of cabin crews and pilots play a pivotal role in ensuring flights are as safe as possible. Their expertise allows them to handle emergencies expertly, contributing to aviation’s impressive safety record. Understanding the role of these safety features and the human element can offer passengers a deeper appreciation for the comprehensive safety measures, providing peace of mind during air travel.

Air travel is generally very safe, and aircraft are equipped with the necessary tools to ensure the safety of all crew members and passengers in the event of an accident. From air filtration systems that convert outside air into breathable air to emergency oxygen systems that deploy automatically at high altitudes, these measures are designed to maintain safety and comfort. Additionally, the cockpit and passenger areas are equipped with oxygen masks, portable oxygen systems for emergencies, and various evacuation tools to facilitate a safe exit from the plane.

Evacuation and Emergency Response

In the event of an emergency landing, the availability of high-intensity flashlights, crash axes, megaphones, and emergency exits equipped with slides and ropes ensures that passengers and crew members can safely exit the plane. Flight crew members undergo first aid training and have access to Emergency Medical Kits (EEMKs) and fire extinguishers to address medical emergencies and fires effectively. Personal Breathing Units (PBUs) protect against smoke inhalation, while life vests and life rafts equipped with survival kits enhance safety in water emergencies.

Understanding these safety features and the comprehensive measures to protect passengers highlights the aviation industry’s serious commitment to safety. The intricate systems and the human touch in aviation safety work together to maintain the high safety standards that make air travel one of the safest modes of transportation.

Image by friasfoto from Pixabay

Selecting the Best Seat for Safety

When considering the safest place to sit on a plane during a crash landing, it’s essential to analyze various factors, including seat locations, survival rates, and the type of emergency, such as land versus water landings. This analysis helps make an informed decision on selecting the best seat for safety.

Analyzing statistics on seat locations and survival rates

A comprehensive study by Time in 2015, which analyzed 35 years of data from the FAA’s Aircraft Accident Database, found that seats in the back of the plane were slightly safer, with a 32 percent fatality rate, compared to 39 percent in the middle of the aircraft and 38 percent at the front. More specifically, the study revealed that rear middle seats had the lowest fatality rate at 28 percent, while aisle seats in the middle section had the highest at 44 percent. However, it’s important to note that these statistics do not guarantee safety in every crash scenario, as survival can be random and dependent on the crash’s specific circumstances.

An air safety specialist, Christine Negroni, emphasizes that focusing solely on fatal crashes, representing a small fraction of airline accidents, may provide a partial picture. She argues that many factors contribute to survivability, including the location of the initial impact, the functionality of safety measures, and the flight crew’s actions. Negroni’s perspective is supported by the fact that most air accidents are survivable, suggesting that passengers’ actions before, during, and after an event can significantly impact their safety.

Image by seth0s from Pixabay

Considering the type of emergency (land vs. water landings)

The type of emergency landing also plays a crucial role in determining the safest seat. For instance, in the case of a crash landing on an open field, the pilot has more control over the plane’s speed, direction, and attitude, potentially reducing the impact and damage to the aircraft and its occupants. Conversely, landing on water presents challenges such as increased drag, turbulence, and unpredictability, affecting the pilot’s ability to control the plane. The surface on which the plane lands also influences the impact and damage, with a soft and smooth surface reducing the shock and energy of the landing compared to water, which can cause the plane to disintegrate or sink rapidly.

Another critical factor is the visibility of the landing surface. A clear and visible surface allows the pilot to avoid obstacles and hazards, facilitating a safer evacuation for passengers and crew. Landing on water, however, makes it harder to see and avoid obstacles, complicating evacuation efforts significantly if passengers are injured or trapped. In situations where landing on water is the only option, as with US Airways Flight 1549 in 2009, the pilot’s preparation and communication with passengers and crew can significantly increase the chances of survival.

In summary, while specific seats, particularly those in the rear of the plane, have been associated with higher survival rates in crash landings, the safest place to sit on a plane cannot be definitively determined due to many factors influencing survivability. Understanding these factors, including seat location, type of emergency, and the specific circumstances of each crash, can help passengers make more informed decisions about their seating choices for safety.

Pre-Crash Preparations

What to Wear and Carry

When preparing for a flight, your choice of clothing and footwear can significantly impact your safety in an emergency. It is advisable to wear natural fiber fabrics such as cotton or wool, which are less flammable and do not melt into the skin like synthetic materials. Loose or elaborate clothing can pose risks as they might snag on obstacles during an evacuation. For this reason, opting for comfortable, form-fitting attire that allows for easy movement and protects against potential hazards is crucial.

Footwear also plays a critical role in your ability to move quickly and safely. Closed-toe shoes are recommended over sandals or high heels, which can hinder mobility or cause injury during an evacuation. Additionally, wearing layers can help manage body temperature fluctuations and provide additional protection.

Familiarizing Yourself with Safety Instructions and Exit Locations

Before the flight, take the time to review the safety briefing card specific to the aircraft you are on, as not all planes have the same safety features or exit configurations. Paying attention to the pre-flight safety briefing is essential; focus on the operation of seat belts, the location of life vests, and the use of oxygen masks.

Knowing the exact location of the nearest exits is crucial. Count the rows to the closest front and rear exits from your seat, as this will help you navigate more efficiently in case of low visibility or confusion. Also, during the safety briefing, learn how the exit doors operate, especially if seated in an exit row.

By taking these pre-crash preparations seriously, you enhance your readiness and ability to respond effectively in the unlikely event of an emergency.

mage by DC Studio on Freepik

Bracing for Impact

Proper Bracing Positions

When instructed to brace for impact, adopting the correct position can significantly increase your chances of avoiding serious injury. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. For Forward-Facing Seats with Lap Belts: Place your head as close as possible to the surface it is most likely to strike, such as the seat in front of you. Bend forward at the waist to prevent sliding under the belt. Keep both feet flat on the floor, preferably on the balls of your feet, to avoid injuries to your legs.
  2. In the UK, the recommended brace position is to sit with your feet and knees together, with your feet firmly on the floor and behind your knees. Bend as far forward as possible, resting your head against the near-reachable seat. Place your hands on the back of your head with elbows brought in to protect from flying debris.
  3. In the event of No Seat In Front: Bend your chest on your thighs and head between your knees. Cross your wrists in front of your lower calves and grab your ankles. This position is crucial for reducing the risk of head and neck injuries during impact.
  4. Adjustments for Children: Children under 26 kg (57 lb) and shorter than 125 cm(49.2) should use an approved child restraint system, bracing according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Children occupying a passenger seat should adopt the same brace position as adults, tailored to their height.
Image by DC Studio on Freepik

The Importance of Keeping Calm

Maintaining composure during a crash is essential for survival. Here are strategies to help keep calm:

  • Assert Control: Brace a foot or hold onto your seat belt or armrest. Holding onto something provides a sense of control, which can be comforting during turbulence.
  • Deep Breathing and Counting: Close your eyes and focus on breathing deeply and evenly while counting to 10. This technique can help manage anxiety during intense turbulence.
  • Visualization: Imagine you are the pilot, with control over the aircraft, or envision yourself as a military or hurricane hunter pilot. This mental exercise can help you feel more in control and less affected by the plane’s movements.
  • Acceptance: Recognize that inner peace comes from accepting and embracing turmoil, not avoiding it. This mindset can help you stay calm and focused on survival.

Remember, even in the most severe crashes, there is always a chance of survival. Keeping a cool head and thinking methodically increases your chances of getting out alive. Following these bracing positions and calming strategies can significantly impact your safety and well-being during a crash landing.

Evacuating the Aircraft Safely

Assessing the Safest Exit

When facing an emergency evacuation on a plane, your immediate action should be to assess the safest exit route. Passengers seated in the emergency exit row are specifically requested to assist in an emergency evacuation, ensuring swift and efficient passenger evacuation. It’s crucial to keep the area clear of passengers until crew members or designated passenger helpers safely open the emergency exit door, following the crew’s directions. Once the escape slide is deployed, it’s vital to evacuate quickly and assist others down the slide, directing them to move away from the aircraft immediately. Remember, only passengers who agree to help and can perform the necessary actions are assigned to the emergency exit row, highlighting the importance of this role.

Leaving Belongings Behind

One of the most critical instructions during an aircraft evacuation is to leave all belongings behind. This directive is based on retrieving carry-ons from overhead bins, which can significantly delay evacuation, potentially putting lives at risk. Personal items, especially those stored in overhead bins, should not be prioritized over personal safety and the safety of fellow passengers. Essential items such as medication or glasses should be the only exceptions, and only if they are imperative and readily accessible. Keeping all personal belongings stowed neatly when not in use is necessary, as loose items can become dangerous projectiles during a crash sequence. If an emergency landing is imminent, the possessions on your person, such as your wallet or cell phone, are usually the ones you will have during the post-crash survival phase. Always remember, in an emergency evacuation, your primary focus should be exiting the aircraft as quickly and safely as possible, leaving all carry-ons behind.

Survival Strategies Post-Crash

Staying put versus seeking help

After a plane crash, one of the first decisions you must make is whether to stay by the wreckage or seek help. If a flight plan was filed before departure, rescue personnel have a starting point to search for you, making it more likely for you to be found if you stay put. Flight plans detail the departure time, route, destination, and estimated arrival time, significantly aiding rescue efforts. However, rescuers might search in the wrong area if the plane deviated from its flight plan due to unforeseen circumstances. In remote areas like Alaska, where flights often proceed without a registered flight plan, staying at the crash site might still be the safest option, especially if the plane has a locator beacon to signal for help. Communication devices, such as cell phones or the plane’s radio, can also be vital in informing rescuers of your location, but their functionality might be compromised in the crash. Assessing your resources, such as food, water, and shelter capabilities, is crucial in deciding whether to stay or seek help, especially if you or someone in your group is severely injured.

Basic first aid and finding shelter

Immediately after a crash, assess injuries using the ABCs — airway, Breathing, and Circulation — to address any life-threatening conditions first. Remember, your ability to help others depends on your condition; treat your injuries before assisting others. Knowing first aid is invaluable in remote crash scenarios, where professional medical help is not immediately available. This includes managing severe bleeding, unconsciousness, or even potential heart attacks among survivors.

Finding shelter is paramount for survival, especially in harsh weather conditions. The wreckage can provide temporary shelter, protecting you from the elements. If the wreckage is unsafe, look for natural shelters like caves or dense tree areas, or consider constructing a makeshift shelter with available materials. Look for supplies from the plane that could aid your survival, such as water, food, and first aid kits.

Staying calm, conserving energy, and making a survival plan are crucial. This plan should include how you will signal for help and ensure your safety until rescuers arrive. In most cases, staying near the crash site is advisable, as moving too much can complicate rescue efforts. Listen for any signs of rescuers and use available tools to signal for help, such as making a fire or using mirrors and flashlights. Administering first aid to yourself and others can prevent infections and further complications, ensuring everyone’s condition remains stable until help arrives.

Surviving a plane crash in remote areas requires staying put or seeking help based on your situation, basic first aid knowledge, and finding or creating shelter. These strategies significantly increase your chances of survival and rescue.


Navigating the complexities of airplane safety, from choosing the safest seat to understanding the physics of crash landings, can empower passengers with knowledge and strategies to enhance their safety during air travel. This article has explored essential preparations and proactive measures individuals can take, emphasizing the importance of seat location, emergency preparedness, and survival strategies post-crash. It reminds readers that while air travel is amongst the safest modes of transport, the variable nature of accidents demands an informed and prepared mindset.

The broader implications of our discussion stretch beyond personal safety, highlighting the aviation industry’s continuous advancements in safety technologies and procedures and the critical role of crew and passenger actions in emergencies. As travelers, understanding these elements allows us to feel safer and actively contribute to the secure environment on board. While the ultimate safety tips and strategies enhance individual preparedness, they also serve as a call to remain vigilant, informed, and responsive to the unpredictable nature of air travel, ensuring that flying remains one of the safest ways to traverse great distances.

More interesting reads:

Does your dinner time affect your dream time exploring nightmares

Which floor is the safest when a building collapses

From words to warfare the path from xenophobia to genocide in palestine

Article topic FAQs:

Regarding Safety and Seating Preferences on Planes

1. What is the safest seat location on an airplane in the event of a crash landing?

The safest seats on an airplane during a crash are generally located towards the rear. Studies suggest that passengers seated near the tail are approximately 40% more likely to survive a crash than at the front.

2. Are there any airplane seats I should try to avoid?

Avoiding all middle seats is advisable due to their lack of space and convenience. Additionally, seats directly in front of an exit row should be avoided because they typically have limited recline capabilities, a safety measure to ensure an unobstructed path for evacuation.

3. Which part of the plane experiences the most turbulence?

The seats at the back of the airplane tend to experience the most turbulence. Moreover, sitting towards the rear might mean you’ll be among the last passengers to disembark after landing. The front bulkhead seats are also notable as they are often reserved for families with infants and young children.

4. What topography is most likely to cause an airplane crash?

  • Mountainous Terrain,
  • Remote or Uninhabited Areas
  • Challenging Runway Configurations
  • Extreme Weather Conditions:



Fancied Facts

We aim to share fun, interesting facts with a wide range of educational and informative topics. Our Channel