We can all be tone deaf…I certainly fall prey to that from time to time. But someone at KLM really needs a lesson in common sense.
KLM maintains regional Twitter accounts, including one in India under @KLMIndia. Yesterday morning, the account tweeted a post and image about choosing the safest seat on an airplane:
The post, now deleted, said:
According to data studies by Time, the fatality rate for the seats in the middle of the plane is the highest. However, the fatality rate for the seats in the front is marginally lesser and is least for seats at the rear third of a plane.
How comforting to hear from an airline! And then the image…with the caption, “Seats at the back of a plane are the safest!”
It took about 12 hours, but the Tweet was deleted and replaced with an apology:
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.
The tweet referred to a 2015 Time article which argued that middle seats in the rear of the aircraft have the best survival rate during crashes. Taking stats from 1985 to 2015, researchers found:
[S]eats in the back third of the aircraft had a 32% fatality rate, compared with 39% in the middle third and 38% in the front third.
Hannah Sampson of the Washington Post covered this story and reached out to the FAA for their take on safe seating. She received two answers. FAA Communications Manager Lynn Lunsford said:
Many people have tried and failed to produce a scientifically defensible answer to this question. There are too many variables, and this is the important one — so few accidents — that a simple answer is probably not statistically defensible.
FAA spokesperson Greg Martin was even more candid:
Since February 2009, over 90 million miles, and about 8 billion passengers have been carried in U.S. commercial aviation without a single crash fatality — an exemplary safety record. As compared to any other human activity, the safest place to be is in a U.S. commercial airliner — regardless of seat.
Amen to that!
KLM was totally tone deaf here. But the unforced error serves as a great reminder of how safe flying still is, even in an era of unease over lingering issues on the 737 MAX.
What do you think of the KLM crash advice?