This Is the Safest Seat on an Airplane

Updated: Feb. 14, 2023

Anxious flyers, take note.

When it comes to air travel, there are a million different tips to make your trip run smoothly, from etiquette rules to preparation hacks. But one key piece of advice is common: choose your airplane seat carefully.

Whether you’re an aisle person or a window person, we all like to consider where we’ll be most comfortable on the plane. Most people try to sit as close to the front as possible—in order to de-plane the fastest—but if you’re an anxious flyer, you may want to reconsider. According to a new study, a surprising seat may actually be the safest choice.

What is the safest seat on an airplane?

According to a TIME investigation from 2015 that examined 35 years of aircraft accident data, the middle seats at the back of the plane had the lowest fatality rate at 28%. The second-safest option is the aisle seats in the middle of the plane, at 44%. While people usually aren’t clamoring to get those back middle seats, this shows they do have at least one advantage!

Logically, the safety of these seats makes sense. Seats at the back of an airplane are close to exit rows while providing more cushion from any collisions that may impact the front of the plane first. Additionally, the seats at the back are far away from the fuel storage in the middle of the plane, and the middle seats provide a buffer for the people seated on either side of you.

How safe are airplanes?

Passenger fastening seat belt while sitting on the airplaneAtstock Productions/Getty Images

In a word, extraordinarily. According to FlightRadar24, there were almost 70 million flights globally in 2019 and only 287 fatalities. And according to the U.S. National Safety Council, the odds of dying in a plane are about 1 in 205,552. Comparing that with the 1 in 102 odds of dying in a car, it’s a helpful reminder that we take risks every day and that flying to a destination on a plane is a relatively incredibly low one.