Wondering which seat on an airplane is the safest, and where you are less likely to die in the event of a plane crash is something that we have all wondered about.
Well, thanks to Dutch airline KLM, we have an answer.
In a since-deleted tweet, the KLM India Twitter account on Wednesday cited a 2015 analysis by TIME Magazine of seating chart and fatalities data from the Federal Aviation Administration’s CSRTG Aircraft Accident Database as a kind of fun fact for its 3,300 followers.
The tweet stated that “the fatality rate for the seats in the middle of the plane is the highest,” and that “the fatality rate for the seats in the front is marginally lesser and is least for seats at the rear third of a plane.” The tweet included a graphic that read, per the Washington Post: “Seats at the back of a plane are the safest!”
The tweet also featured an image of a plane seat floating on clouds with the words: “Seats at the back fo the plane are safest!”.
KLM deleted the tweet shortly after receiving an email from the Post and issued an apology.
“We would like to sincerely apologise for a recent update. The post was based on a publicly available aviation fact, and isn’t a @KLM opinion. It was never our intention to hurt anyone’s sentiments. The post has since been deleted,” the airline said.
We would like to sincerely apologise for a recent update. The post was based on a publically available aviation fact, and isn't a @KLM opinion. It was never our intention to hurt anyone's sentiments. The post has since been deleted.
— KLM India (@KLMIndia) July 17, 2019
As you can imagine, the tweet was not well received.
“Besides the tweet which was in very poor taste, your statement also wasn’t a fact because there’s just not enough data (thankfully) to make that assertion. So, it was in poor taste, and also misleading, for what it’s worth,” said Twitter user @ekasbury.
“Wow, guys, just what we need on #MH17 day. They ALL died,” said @lusenok.
The airline further reiterated its response, underlining that the information it provided was not new and had already been published online.
The post of our team in India was based on a publically available aviation fact and isn’t a KLM opinion. KLM apologizes for any distress the tweet may have caused. We will be reviewing our Twitter protocol to better ensure appropriate content. The post has since been deleted.
— Royal Dutch Airlines (@KLM) July 18, 2019
“The post of our team in India was based on a publicly available aviation fact and isn’t a KLM opinion. KLM apologises for any distress the tweet may have caused. We will be reviewing our Twitter protocol to better ensure appropriate content. The post has since been deleted,” KLM tweeted.
The information they were referring to appears to be based on a Time article from 2015 which argues the middle seats of an aircraft have the highest survival rate based on a study of accidents from 1985.
“The analysis found that the seats in the back third of the aircraft had a 32 per cent fatality rate, compared with 39 per cent in the middle third and 38 per cent in the front third,” the magazine said.
However, FAA communications manager Lynn Lunsford told The Post the figures are not likely to hold up.
“Many people have tried and failed to produce a scientifically defensible answer to this question,” Lunsford said.
“There are too many variables, and this is the important one – so few accidents – that a simple answer is probably not statistically defensible.”