Despite the fact that flying continues to be the safest form of transportation in the country, it’s also the most anxiety-inducing one. If you sit there clutching your complimentary beverage every time there’s a bit of turbulence, you are not alone.
A crash is unlikely. According to statistics from the Netherlands-based Aviation Safety Network (ASN), 2016 was the second safest year to fly on record. The ASN found that in 2016, there were 19 fatal airliner accidents and 325 deaths worldwide, nothing that this translates to a one-in-3.2 million chance of being involved in a crash. For the seventh straight year, zero people died from plane crashes on U.S.-certificated scheduled airlines worldwide in 2016.
But we still want to be extra safe when we fly. That’s why a couple of publications have analyzed plane-crash data to determine whether where you sit during your flight matters. After all, if you can take your safety into your own hands — at least to a degree — why wouldn’t you?
HuffPost recently looked at data collected and analyzed by Popular Mechanics and Time, which both concluded the following: Sitting in the back is where it’s at. In 2007, Popular Mechanics analyzed National Transportation Safety Board data and found that the front 15% of seats have a 49% survival rate, seats over the wing have a 56% rate, and those in the rear — behind the wing — have a 69% rate.
Time magazine, in 2015, did its own analysis, looking at Federal Aviation Administration data, and also found that seats in the back have a lower fatality rate — at 32%, compared with those over the wing (39%) and in the front (38%). The middle third of the cabin was determined as the least safe, with a 44% fatality rate.
Of course, your safety depends on the specific circumstances of a crash. “Each incident or crash is unique,” FAA spokesperson Alison Duquette told HuffPost. “There is no safest seat.” Still, it’s good to have as much information as possible about our risks.