Will seats at the back of the plane cost more?


Interior of planeAP Photo/Harris

Channel 4's controversial documentary showing a plane crashed by scientists, has had a shocking effect on travellers, according to one travel agent. The programme used dummies in each seat, to assess the effect on each passenger, and concluded that you're safest in the back.

One travel agent is claiming that since it was aired last month, the programme has had a huge impact on customers, who are now keen to book the back of the plane.

Back popular

Online travel agent Sunshine.co.uk told the Daily Mail that they had received 400 requests for seats at the back since the programme was shown.

The documentary showed a controlled crash of a 727 in a Mexican desert. The pilot bailed out using a parachute, and the plane was crashed by remote control. It simulated a forced landing, as this is the most common kind of crash.

The results showed that passengers had a dramatically better chance of survival if they were sitting at the back of the plane. The most badly damaged seat was 7A, which was sent flying from the aircraft, and would definitely have killed the passenger travelling in that seat.

The travel agent told the newspaper that it had received 50 enquiries as to how to avoid this seat. It also claimed that bookings for first class at the front of the plane were down 63%.

Spokesman Chris Clarkson said: "The programme has certainly had an effect on those who watched it as we've seen by the recent enquiries from customers panicking about where they'd be sat on the plane."


It's a strange story, because most people are well aware that they cannot choose where to sit at the point when they are booking the holiday. It's when they check in that seats are assigned, (unless it's a free-for-all, in which case you cannot chose until you're on the aircraft). It seems odd, therefore, that they would try to be so specific.

And while it's a certainty that sitting in first class at the front raises your risk, it's strange that people should prioritise the very remote risk of a crash over their comfort, and the exclusivity of first class.

Cost more?

But if we assume that this isn't just a marketing exercise by a travel firm, it raises an interesting possibility. Travel companies are notoriously responsive to demand. Low cost airlines will keep an eye on bookings on a minute-by-minute basis, and if demand goes up, they will put up the prices immediately. If demand for the back of the plane rises, there's nothing to stop them increasing the cost of the back seats.

Many airlines already charge more for emergency exit seats because they offer extra legroom. It's in their model, so it wouldn't be hard to charge for the popular back seats. easyJet actually charges an extra booking fee at the moment for people who want to reserve the most popular seats at the front of the plane.


Of course, sitting at the back has its downsides. On the vast majority of all flights the landing will be entirely faultless, and those at the back will still have to face the inconvenience of having to file past the world and his wife while they wrestle their wordly goods from the overhead locker. For a regular traveller, this could get very tiresome very quickly, and those front seats will suddenly seem far more appealing again.

In fact, according to a survey by Skyscanner in April this year, 45% of people would ideally prefer a seat in the front six rows - particularly seat 6A. The least favoured of all the seats was 31E - near the back and in the middle.

It seems, therefore, that we have a long way to go before the back of the plane attracts a premium. But what do you think? let us know in the comments.

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