Dutch airline KLM’s Indian branch apologized on Wednesday for tweeting about the impact of your choice of seat on your chances of surviving a plane crash. The since-deleted initial tweet cheerily informed us that “Seats at the back of a plane are the safest!” before jumping into death rates.
“According to data studies by Time, the fatality rate for the seats in the middle of the plane is the highest,” the tweet said. “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.”
The “data studies by Time” it cited came from a 2015 article’s conclusion that the back middle seats had the highest survival rate (28%), based on the Federal Aviation Administration’s 1985 to 2000 accident database. The article also noted that the circumstances of the crash are a much bigger factor than your choice of seat.
The airline deleted the tweet about 12 hours after it was posted, according to The Washington Post, and later tweeted 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 wrote. “It was never our intention to hurt anyone’s sentiments.”
In an emailed statement, the FAA noted that the data KLM cited was questionable.
“Many people have tried and failed to produce a scientifically defensible answer to this question,” an FAA spokesperson wrote. “There are too many variables, and this is the important one — so few accidents — that a simple answer is not possible.”
KLM didn’t immediately respond to a request for further comment.
First published at 5:07 a.m. PT.
Updated at 5:50 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.