6 Critical Tips for Surviving a Plane Crash

The bad, horrible, unimaginable news: Two teenage girls died in an Asiana Airlines plane from South Korea to San Francisco on Saturday.

The good news: The crash was survivable, as evidenced by the other 305 people onboard who have not lost their lives.

In fact, most plane accidents don’t end with fatalities.

One in 1.2 million flights end up in an accident, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (via Yahoo News), and the survival rate in U.S. plane crashes from 1983 – 2000 was 95 percent.

In the event of a crash, planes are designed to be safer than ever — including stronger seats, new-and-improved flame retardant plane parts and better firefighting techniques — to minimize the loss of life, and there are also measures you can take to better your chances of staying alive.

Here are six critical tips to surviving a plane crash in the unlikely event it happens to you:

  • Surviving a Plane Crash 1 of 8

    Surviving a plane crash is more possible than not — especially if you're smart about it.

  • Sit as Close to an Exit as Possible 2 of 8

    According to Professor Ed Galea of the University of Greenwich, "survivors move an average of five rows before safely exiting a burning plane."

  • Rear and Aisle Seats are the Way to Go 3 of 8

    Sitting in the rear of the plane may not conjure up images of glamor, and the aisle seats won't give you a scenic window view but both may save your lives in the event of a crash.


    A Boeing 727 was used in a test crash last year in the Sonoran Desert, and it was found that test dummies near the front of the plane bore the brunt of the impact — with those in rows one through seven in the most "fatal" seats.



  • Don’t Panic 4 of 8

    Don't panic if you're in a plane that's crashing? Yeah, right.


    But seriously — it could be the difference in your survival.


    "If you haven't thought about what you might do and prepared, the thing becomes overwhelming and you shut down," Professor Galea, who has spent a quarter of a century studying people's reactions in life-or-death situations, said to ABC News. "You can prepare yourself to react appropriately in emergency situations."

  • Plus 3, Minus 8 5 of 8

    There's nothing about traveling that makes you want to remember a mathematic formula, but the first three minutes of a flight and the last eight minutes are precisely the time to think math.


    According to Ben Sherwood, author of The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life, 80 percent of plane crashes happen within the first three minutes of takeoff and the final eight minutes before landing. Don't start reading a magazine or unpacking packing up your carry-on bag until you're outside of those times — stay alert, and increase your chances of staying alive.



  • Brace Upon Impact 6 of 8

    The data is clear: "Placing one's head down and putting one's hands over one's head -- could increase the odds of survival" in the event of a plane crash, says Cindy Bir, a professor of biomedical engineering at Wayne State University.


    As for holding a baby in your lap? "After a relatively minor simulated impact, the mother [with an infant in her lap] could no longer hold on [and] Bir cautioned that holding a child on one's lap was not safe," according to ABC News.

  • Make a Plan. And Then Another Plan. 7 of 8

    Sherwood, who is also the president of ABC News, says having a plan of action is critical to surviving a crash.


    "If a plane crashes it's very likely that I'm going to survive it, and if I do the right thing, if I pay attention, if I have a plan, if I act, the chances are even better," Sherwood said.


    But it's not enough to have just one plan. Know where an exit is — and then locate a second exit "in case the first one is obstructed or inaccessible," he said.




  • 14 More Tips for Surviving a Plane Crash 8 of 8

    For 20 tips on surviving a plane crash, click here.


Photo credits: iStockphoto

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Follow Meredith on Twitter and check out her regular column on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post at

Article Posted 2 years Ago
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