I think the exit row near the wings are not good because the wings carry fuel and they are close to the engines.

For example:

enter image description here

As it is clear, in the above situation the exit row near the wings are not usable. or this one:

enter image description here

  • you may want to see here and here.
    – greyshade
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 17:14
  • The conclusion was that near the exit is a better place. Now I want to know if the place of exit itself is important or not.
    – MOON
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 17:29
  • Most fires will start from within the cabin or cargo, so which emergency exit is safer is totally irrelevant. By the time fire reaches fuel tanks you would be long barBQed. Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 17:48
  • Roughly 3 billion passengers will fly on commercial airlines this year. On average, less than 1000 will die in accidents. It probably makes more sense to select your seat based on whether they will run out of your preferred meal by the time they get to your row than survivability.
    – Doc
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 6:03
  • Clearly, wing exits are preferable in cases when the plane "lands" on Hudson river.
    – mouviciel
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 8:07

2 Answers 2


Aircraft accidents are rare enough that the statistics aren't really meaningful but people have studied it.

Assuming on the ground incidents, which are most likely to be survivable - as opposed to flying into mountains.

1, Front of the plane is most likely to hit something, a runway obstruction/another plane - but the pilots are there and so try and steer away from things heading toward them.

2, The wing box is the strongest part of the structure, and because the wings are in the way it is difficult to hit the mid-section with another aircraft. But as you say, there are often empty fuel tanks and hot air conditioners directly under your seat.

3, The rear of the plane occasionally suffer minor tail strike accidents on take off. But as the old saying goes - no plane ever reversed into a mountain. Passengers also tend to rush forward toward an exit - leaving the tail exists clear.

Myself and a group of engineers were once told-off by a flight attendant for discussing this while waiting for take off. This was pre-9/11 and in Europe so we weren't immediately dragged off the plane at gun point.


Choosing where to sit based on which location is safer requires that you also know, in advance, what kind of accident you are going to have (if you can do this, take the next (not this) flight to Vegas).

Yes, if you fly into a mountain the front rows hit first but it's not like the back rows are going to walk away. Cabin fires can start anywhere. If the tail smacks into a seawall when the crew comes in too low it's going to be rough on those who choose the back rows. If you ditch in a river, planes tend to sink tail-first and they don't evacuate ditchings through the back doors so you will be last off. If the plane sideslips and rolls, the ends often detach leaving the middle section (with most of the fuel and toasty-warm engines to light it up) alone.

So in short, sit where you like and stop obsessing over low-probability events.

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