Travellers prefer right side of plane

Travellers prefer to sit on the right-hand side of an aeroplane rather than the left, research shows

Edinburgh-based researchers found that people choose to sit on the right side of a plane due to the mind's rightward bias in representing the real world.

Professor of Psychology Sergio Della Sala and Masters student Dario Cancemi from the School of PPLS were part of the research team led by Queen Margaret University researcher Dr Stephen Darling.

Sergio Della Sala

Stephen Darling

First of its kind

Thirty-two people, between the ages of 21 and 31 years old took part in the study - the first fully controlled study of its kind looking at where people choose to sit on planes.

The participants, 21 women and 11 men, were asked to choose their seat by clicking on a seating plan diagram. This task was carried out for 32 flights between fictional destinations. 

Choosing right

In contrast to a slight left-hand bias observed when booking flights online, this research fits in with the rightward bias often seen in seating selection in other environments.

We were keen to rule out the possibility that participants may have just had a tendency to click one side of the computer screen. Participants were therefore presented with seating diagrams with the plane facing either upwards or downwards. The result clearly showed that the orientation of the plane made no difference to the preference, with most participants still making an active choice to choose seating on the right of the plane.

Sergio Della SalaProfessor of Psychology at the School of PPLS

Laterality article - Fly on the right: lateral preferences when choosing aircraft seats