Aisle seat near exit safest in emergency, says CAA study

It’s the question all nervous flyers ask: “Where’s the safest place to sit in an emergency?”. Answer: an aisle seat, according to a comprehensive new study carried out by Greenwich University for the CAA. The study of 105 accidents and accounts of 2,000 survivors found the seats with the best survival rate were in the exit row and the rows in front or behind.

In the seats between two and five rows, passengers had a better chance of escaping in a fire and the difference between surviving and perishing is greatly reduced.

The most dangerous seats are those six or more rows from an exit, in which the chances of perishing far outweigh those of surviving.

The findings have prompted concern about the trend for airlines to charge extra for exit seats, or giving people the opportunity to choose their seats online.

Robert Gifford, director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, told the Times: “Your chance of survival should not be based on your ability to pay for an emergency exit seat or to reserve your seat online.”


Aircraft are required to undergo an evacuation test to show that everyone on board can escape within 90 seconds when half of the exits are blocked.
However, the study found the test was flawed because it did not take ‘‘social bonds’’ into account. In emergencies, passengers put off their escape to help friends or relatives while people who were travelling with colleagues tended to focus on their own survival.