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Is flying in Economy safer than flying in Business Class?

I arrived at the airport early, donned a blazer, discreetly swapped my flip flops for a pair of court shoes and not-so-subtly tried to joke my way into an upgrade. After receiving a succinct (and some might say supercilious rejection), I skulked through the airport, muttering something about how class distinctions were never so obvious as they were on a plane etc etc.


I consoled myself with something Mum used to say, “It’s safer in Economy.” I’d always thought this was her way of justifying our family of six never getting beyond the Class Curtain (at the time, I didn’t realise that our annual overseas holiday would cost a mint for six people). But it turns out there may be some truth to her theory.


In 2007, Popular Mechanics analysed 20 commercial jet crashes in the US since 1971 and claimed that seats behind the wing’s trailing edge were the safest, with survival rates at 69 percent. If you were in one of those 20 crashes, but were sitting over the wing, your chance of survival was 56 percent. If you were at the front of the plane than you were looking at a 49 percent survival rate.


In 2012, makers of a documentary crashed a Boeing 727 into the Sonoran Desert in Mexico, the UK’s Telegraph reported. The first 11 rows were reportedly ripped out and experts concluded that none of the First Class passengers would have survived - survival rates also increased as you moved further to the back of the plane.


Okay, so nowadays we’ve got the A380 and carriers increasing the number of their Business Class seats, making this argument less a class issue and more a front of plane versus back of plane issue.


And speaking of the A380, an Airbus spokesperson told the Telegraph that when it comes to safety, design and maintenance were key factors (apparently the A380 can supposedly empty itself of 850 passengers in complete darkness, with only half the doors working, in 90 seconds).


However, if like most travellers, safety isn’t your number one concern when it comes to choosing a plane seat, the Huffington Post has released a list of the best places to sit.


Those looking for a good place to sleep were told the best seat would be a window seat on the left side in the middle of plane, while fliers looking to exit the aircraft more quickly were told an aisle seat on the left side at the front of the plane would be best.


What’s your favourite seat and why?


Written by: Gaya Avery
Published: 11 June 2014

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