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'Aisle seat near emergency exit safest'

world Updated: Jun 27, 2008 00:28 IST
Vijay Dutt

On a plane, the safest place to sit is an aisle seat close to the emergency exit row, according to an exhaustive study carried out in the UK.

The study, which took into account 105 accidents and tales of 2,000 survivors, found that the safest seats were in the emergency exit row and the row in front or behind it.

Between the second and fifth rows from the emergency exit, passengers still have a better than even chance of escaping a fire but “the difference between surviving and perishing is greatly reduced”.

Carried out by Greenwich University for UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, the study says the most dangerous seats are those six or more rows from an emergency exit. Robert Gifford, director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, was quoted by Times as saying that the study shows “your choice of seat on a plane really can be a matter of life and death”.

But experts in India differ. “In an aircraft accident, sitting in a particular seat would not make much difference... impact will be same for all,” said Gurcharan Bhatura of research organisation Foundation for Aviation and Sustainable Tourism.

Rajji Rai of Travel Agents Association of India said regular travelers in India prefer aisle seats, but for more legroom. “Almost 60 per cent of fliers prefer a window seat,” Rai said.

The new study has triggered concern about the trend for airlines to charge extra for emergency exit seats.

(Inputs from Sidhartha Roy in Delhi)