Smoking or Non-smoking?…

planeI remember the first time I ever set foot in a plane. I was 10 years old. It was, without doubt, the most exciting day of my life.

…Four decades later and the gilt-edged glamour of air travel has, I’m sorry to say, lost much of its childhood sparkle. Nowadays I am more likely to have my face pressed up against the back of the seat in front of me than the window and I often find the onset of mid-air turbulence a welcome respite from the interminable monotony. One thing that I have never really worried about though is the risk factor. The current statistics put the chances of me being killed on a flight at around one in 4.7 million, so I figure I probably still have some way to go before the numbers really start stacking up against me. Indeed, given that I invariably have to travel cattle class, the odds are very much in my favour.

If, like me, you usually have to turn right when you reach the cabin door, take comfort in the fact that you have a statistically better chance of surviving a crash than those sipping champagne in First Class. Current data gives them only a 49 percent chance of survival, whereas those languishing in economy have between a 56 and 69 percent chance of walking away from a serious accident. Indeed, the further back you are, the better your chances. Of course, as with most things, it isn’t quite that simple. There are other factors to take into account as well and, if you want to seriously improve your chances, then it is worth giving them some thought before you settle down to your in-flight movie and complimentary gin and tonic.

How many of us really pay sufficient attention to the pre-flight safety briefing? Did you check where the emergency exit was when it was pointed out to you for example, or were you too busy checking in on Facebook? It has been proven that your chances of survival drop significantly the further away from the exit you are and, if your seat is more than five rows away, then your survival rate drops considerably more. Of course, this does presuppose that the flight has not been targeted by terrorists, in which case, you might want to avoid the extra legroom afforded you by the emergency exit seats…It would seem that your average modern hijacker prefers the spacious comfort and all round convenience of these rows. You may also want to pay a little more heed to the seemingly irrelevant information on fastening and unfastening your seatbelt too. Crash investigators have proved that during the panic of an air crash people tend to revert to type, invariably trying to remove their seat belts as if they were in their own car and not aboard a flaming aircraft. This, as you can imagine, often makes the difference between surviving a crash and not. The good news though is that once you are airborne and underway, the chances of a fatal mid-air crash is only around 8%. However, coming into land is another prospect altogether. An aircraft’s final approach and landing accounts for some 36% of fatal accidents so, with that in mind, you might want to consider just how much you are saving by flying via Madrid, Miami and all points west, rather than paying the extra for direct flights and thereby reducing the odds on a traumatic demise.

All said and done though, statistically air travel is still one of the safest forms of transport. Let’s face it, you’ve got more chance of being run over by a pig than dying in a plane crash, so I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over these stats.

However, it doesn’t hurt to hedge your bets…does it…

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