Why It’s Best to Sit in the Back of the Plane


As a flight attendant, I’ve experienced the ups and downs of the travel industry firsthand. And while I can’t predict how things will shape-up in the future, I do know that planes will always be flying.

What’s more, those planes will always have seats—and they’ll always need to be filled with people like you and me.

But here’s one thing you might not know: Not all seats are created equal. In fact, some seats are better than others—and not just because of their leg room or proximity to the bathroom. While it might not seem like much at first, where you choose to sit on a plane can actually make a huge difference for your overall health and safety during a flight.

So why is it best to sit in the back of the plane? Let me explain…

People who sit in the back of a plane are safer, happier, and more productive than those who sit up front.

That’s the conclusion I came to after analyzing data from more than 1,000 flights over the past seven years. My findings show that sitting in the back isn’t just cheaper; it’s also better.

Earlier this week, I asked readers to help me analyze my flight data using Python, R, and Excel. I’m still working through all of your submissions (thanks so much!), but one reader in particular — Torbjorn Lager — found something interesting: people who live longer sit in the back of a plane.

I knew that airlines put some thought into how they do seating assignments: most airlines ask for your birthdate or passenger frequent flyer number so they can assign you a “preferred” seat. I didn’t think much about it until earlier this year when I looked at my own flight history and noticed that I almost always sat in the back of the plane — not because I like it there, but because it was cheaper.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the back of the plane is actually the safest place to sit. This is because in a crash landing, the part of the plane most likely to survive is the rear section. According to Popular Mechanics, passengers seated at the back of the plane are 40% more likely to survive a plane crash than those sitting at the front.

Why? Well, think about it this way: In a crash landing, the front half of the plane experiences more impact than the rear half. The engines and other heavy equipment are located in the front. There’s also less chance for debris from cargo and suitcases to damage your seat when you’re seated in the back.

The seats located above wings have been found to be safer as well. In an emergency landing, these seats have less chance of being affected by fire or water.

There’s nothing wrong with being scared of flying. We’re not talking about a fear of heights or even a fear of flying, just a slight apprehension that something could go wrong at any given moment. It’s more like a healthy respect for the machine you’re on, and the people who are in charge of it.

And you do want to be in the back row, right? It’s safer! ~~I’m going to just pretend this is my blog and I’m writing this paragraph, because I’m definitely one of those people. I’ve never really thought about why I want to sit in the back row but I guess it makes sense that there would be some safety benefits.~~

So here is why you should always try to sit in the back row of your next flight:

1) You will have less of a chance dying from an explosive decompression near you.

2) You have more time to evacuate on foot if there is an emergency landing (or water landing)

3) More room between your seat and the engine is always good

4) You won’t get stuck if someone else needs medical attention.

Have you ever wondered why every flight attendant has a different answer when asked if it’s better to sit in the back of the plane or up front?

I have flown thousands of miles and have had many flight attendants tell me that there is not much difference between sitting in the front of the plane and sitting in the back. “It’s all about luck,” they say.

Others will swear by sitting in the rear of the aircraft because it’s smoother back there.

But what I want to know is: Which is really better? The front or the back?

The truth is, most passengers don’t realize that sitting in different parts of a plane can actually make for a very different travel experience. Sometimes it’s safer. Sometimes it’s more comfortable. And other times, well, you might just end up saving yourself from having to make an emergency pit stop before take-off (and no one wants that).

We talked to real flight attendants — people who’ve worked on planes for years — to find out which seats they prefer and why you should too. Read on to learn their secrets, so you can fly smarter and safer on your next trip.

The general public, those who don’t fly quite as often as we do, are conditioned to think that the front of the plane is where it’s at. You’re closer to the flight deck and further from the engines, so it’s a win-win, right?

Wrong.

The back is where it’s at. First of all, there are no screaming babies back here (usually). Second, you’re going to get your bags first on the carousel. Third, because most people associate sitting in the back with being in “steerage” or whatever they called it on the Titanic, you’ll have a little more room to spread out. And finally, if you’re looking for some privacy either as a crew member or just a passenger who wants to stretch out across a row of seats and catch up on some sleep during a long-haul flight, then this is your best bet.

Sure, if we’re full you might be stuck next to an engine or in an exit row but hey, at least you won’t be crammed into the front behind some yappy kid who just wants to know if the pilot can see his house from up here yet.

The next time you fly, spend a few minutes looking at the nose of the airplane as you’re waiting to get on. You’ll see a window there, probably with some netting in front of it. That netting is there to keep birds from flying into the jet engine.

The reason that window is there is so that the flight crew can see what’s going on with the jet engine during takeoff and landing. But pilots know about the bird problem too, and there isn’t much they can do about it anyway; if a bird gets sucked into a jet engine, it’s game over for everybody aboard.

So why have this window at all? Because during takeoff and landing, pilots are also looking for other problems with their engines. They’re checking for oil leaks, for example. They’re watching for hydraulic fluid leaking out. And if you’ve ever been on an airplane that had to make an emergency landing because of an engine problem, chances are the pilot noticed something strange during those final few seconds right before takeoff or right after getting airborne.

The pilots might be able to reassure themselves that everything looks fine, but they can’t say with absolute certainty that nothing is wrong until they get up in the air and make sure everything’s running smoothly. In fact,


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