I'm an ex-pilot and there's a golden rule when flying as a passenger that I never break | The Sun

A FORMER pilot has revealed a very simple rule he swears by whenever he flies that he claims could save passengers' lives.

Air travel is widely considered to be the safest method of transport available, but even so, there are still ways people can make their trips less risky.

One of the easiest ones is for passengers to take five seconds to familiarise themselves with their surroundings before their flight takes off.

In particular, locating the nearest exit and counting how many rows of seats away it is.

Ex-pilot Hans Mast, who now works as a travel agent, explained how that could make a huge difference in an emergency.

He told Travel + Leisure: "As soon as I board a plane, I always take note of the nearest emergency exit, counting the number of seat rows between my location and that exit.

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"In the event of an emergency, visibility could be impaired, and having this mental map can be life-saving."

Hans isn't the only person to recommend this method either, with flight attendants also telling passengers that they should be counting the seats between them and the emergency exit.

Sun Online Travel's resident cabin crew member said: "When we say 'familiarise' I sometimes think we're not being clear enough with just how familiar we'd like you to be.

"Passengers should always know how many rows away they are from their nearest exit and should count the number of seats between them and the door.

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"This may sound a bit much, because the emergency doors are pretty big and obvious.

"But if the plane is filled with smoke, or the lights aren't working after an emergency, that might not be the case.

"In this instance, you'd be glad to know how many rows away you are from the emergency exit.

"You can simply head towards the exit, while feeling for and counting the seats. It could help you get out of the plane a lot quicker, which makes all the difference."

Picking a certain seat could also make you safer on board, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

They analysed 65 plane crashes and found seats in the back to be safest in over half of the incidents, based on survival rates.

Elsewhere, a 2015 study revealed that seats in the middle of the cabin had the highest fatality rate at 39 per cent, followed by a 38 per cent fatality rate in the front.

Seats at the back of the cabin had the lowest fatality rate at 32 per cent.

Some plane seats are fitted with clever features to make them safer as well including a tray table latch that only opens one way.

It may seem like a little thing, but in an evacuation, it could save lives.

Swiss Airlines revealed the clever secret on their TikTok account.

In a video, the airline showed a tray table in a normal row of seats, where the latch can be moved clockwise and anticlockwise.

In an exit row, this isn't the case, as it only goes one way. They revealed why this was in the comments.

They explained: "The more you know! In the emergency exit row, the opening of the tray table is only possible in one direction, compared to all other seat rows.

"Like this in the unlikely event of an emergency, an unintended opening of the tray table (due to people rushing by) is avoided."

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