How much do you know about airplane seats and where you choose to sit?
Aisle seat, window seat, over the wing or near the tail; those are just some of the options people consider when it comes to where to sit on a plane. If you’re anything taller than Lilliputian-size, you might also want to know what your best bets are for leg room and comfort.
According to an article on CNBC.com, the U.S. government might soon require minimum seat dimensions. In addition, an audit by the Transportation Inspection General is underway to determine whether it is still feasible for passengers deplaning in an emergency to do so within the 90-second window established back when airline cabins tended to run bigger.
When it comes to airplane seats, is fewer better?
In an era where the numbers of seats on planes has grown and personal space for passengers has shrunk, there is a possibility that an audit would show that passengers cannot be expected to deplane quickly enough in an emergency. Consider this: the number of seats on domestic planes in the U.S. has increased on average by almost eight percent in the last 15 years. According to USAToday.com, the average Airbus A321 has gained 19 seats in that same period, with an increase from 169 to 188 seats. The article goes on to say that, “the average Airbus A321 has gained 19 seats in that period, rising from 169 to 188 seats. The average Boeing 737-8 has squeezed in another 13 seats during that time, going from 152 to 165 seats.”
Personal space for passengers impacts safety, not just comfort.
The airline industry is one in which customers have increasingly complained about service and comfort for a number of years. However, the issue of seats and how jammed they are into any given plane is not just a matter of comfort and quality; it’s a matter of safety.
In addition to emergency evacuations, there are other concerns that come with cramped passenger spaces such as blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Increasing legroom and freeing up more space to move around could help prevent those kinds of medical problems, and less jamming and cramming of passengers might reduce incidents of air rage.
What if safety is your main concern?
So, what else should you keep in mind when choosing a seat on a plane if safety is at the top of your list?
It turns out that the old joke about being safest at the back of the plane because planes don’t back into mountains, might have some basis in fact. According to BusinessInsider.com, research suggests that the safest place on a plane is probably a middle seat toward the rear.
In 2012, researchers filled an un-crewed Boeing 727 with test dummies and cameras and flew it into the sands of a desert in Mexico, mimicking an emergency landing. The cockpit snapped off, sending some seats near the front flying. Injuries caused by whiplash, impact and destruction of the plane would most likely seriously injure and kill the passengers near the front. These seats are in first class or other higher priced areas of the plane. While it was no joyride for the dummies in the rear, who if they were human, would probably suffer head injuries, overall, they fared much better.
The science of crash analysis, however, isn’t an exact one. Results vary depending on a number of factors, including what part of the plane connects with the ground first and who is most likely to access the emergency exits. For an interesting take on emergency exits and who can sit near them, read here.
If all this sounds scary, remember that flying is still far safer overall than riding in a car. Your lifetime odds of dying in a car crash are said to be 1 in 112, whereas in a plane, your odds are 1 in 8,000.
Other things might be important too!
While few of us want to take dumb risks when flying, most of us assume we’ll live to fly another day. Therefore, look at factors other than safety when choosing a seat. Turbulence, faster service, less noise and speedier (non-emergency) exits, can all be affected by where your seat is located. For a look at the pros and cons of seat locations based not only on safety, but other factors as well, check this out.
And some of us are larger than the average passenger and need to factor in for that, too. If that sounds like you or someone you know, here is an article that might help.
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