Aviation analysts have weighed in after a Dutch airline was blasted for tweeting advice on where passengers should pick their seats based on fatality rates.
The regional Twitter account for Dutch airline KLM in India responded to a trivia question on Wednesday morning about which seats are safest on an aircraft.
“According to data studies by Time, the fatality rate for the seats in the middle of the plane is the highest,” the tweet said.
“However, the fatality rate for the seats in the front is marginally lesser and is least for seats at the rear third of a plane.”
It featured an image of an empty seat cruising on a fluffy cloud with the words: “Seats at the back of a plane are the safest!”
The tweet drew a mixed reaction on social media.
Some users hit out at KLM India, arguing the tweet was in “very poor taste” and “misleading” due to a lack of information about where the best seats are on a plane.
The person who tweeted this needs some retraining ASAP. WTAF. https://t.co/Qcti61N8hd
— Jason Rabinowitz (@AirlineFlyer) July 17, 2019
Others responded in jest, with one user saying: “If I’m gonna die it’s gonna be in first class lol.”
KLM India swiftly deleted the offending tweet and offered an apology.
We would like to sincerely apologise for a recent update. The post was based on a publically available aviation fact, and isn't a @KLM opinion. It was never our intention to hurt anyone's sentiments. The post has since been deleted.
— KLM India (@KLMIndia) July 17, 2019
So where is the safest seat on an aircraft?
Aviation analysts are divided on the best place to sit in an aircraft – mainly because every plane crash is different – but all agree that the risk of being caught in a crash is incredibly slim.
Monash University professor Greg Bamber said travelling by plane was much safer than travelling by car.
“The possibility of being killed when you travel by plane is so tiny that it hardly bares thinking about, even though many people have a fear of flying,” Professor Bamber said.
CQUniversity air crash investigator Geoffrey Dell said many people believed the front of the plane, not the middle, was in fact the most dangerous part to sit.
“The rationale behind that is most crashes are airplanes flying into things, so the front is the worst,” Dr Dell told The New Daily.
Dr Dell pointed to the “classic case” of the 1985 Japanese Airlines Flight 123 disaster that crashed into a mountain near Tokyo, killing all but four passengers on board.
The four survivors – a 26-year-old off-duty flight attendant, a 12-year-old girl and a mother and daughter – were seated in the left row in the rear of the aircraft, the only part of the Boeing 747SR plane that remained intact.
“In that case it appeared there was enough structure in front of the passengers to absorb all the energy so by the time it got to them, they didn’t suffer fatal injuries,” Dr Dell said.
The aviation analyst said the problem with sitting in the middle of single-aisle aircrafts was that you’re further away from the exits in the front and the back if there is an issue with the engine, which is located in the middle.
“If a fire is near the engine, the over-wing exits can become unusable and then you’re at the back of the queue,” Dr Dell said.