I’ve spent a lot of time on planes. To pass the time I watch movies, listen to music, read the airline magazine and memorize stats on their aircraft fleet, and look out the window. Occasionally I’ll have a conversation with my seat-mate. With no cell service, and generally no internet, there’s a lot of time for the mind to wander. It frequently wanders strange places, and for the past few years it occasionally circles around to an observation that in my thousands of flights taken, my seat-mate is very very rarely a beautiful woman.
‘Do beautiful women not fly?’ I ask. Perhaps I just haven’t been very lucky when it comes to my seat assignments. Maybe it’s because I usually choose the window seat and hot girls like sitting next to the window?
Through travel experience I’ve come up with a lot of anecdotal evidence, although the causes are unknown. I believe they generally do choose a window seat given a choice. I think they generally do not have ‘elite’ status with airlines – I’ve almost never seen them in the lounges. They almost never fly first class, unless with a partner. I don’t think young women travel solo quite as often as men do. There seems to be a lot of men that fly for business – more than women. Sales guys usually.
I decided to ask our data scientist at work for help to understand the universe a little better, and to answer the age-old question ‘Do hot girls fly on planes?’.
After a little research on population, passenger numbers, and gender balance of travelers he came back to me with a nifty little spreadsheet that crunched the numbers and gave a general estimate of the likelihood of your next seat-mate being a hot girl. Assuming a rather popular aircraft, a Boeing 737-900, the numbers came back and affirmed what I had already discovered through anecdotal evidence – that your chances are slim. Defining what a ‘hot girl’ is is a bit of a hard task, so I simply said the top 10% of the female population aged between 20-29. You can adjust these numbers and the results will update, but if you are like me and usually sit in an isle or window you’re looking at about 170 flights before you might be so lucky. If however, you choose the middle seat, your odds jump to 1 in 85!
So next time you are booking a flight and selecting your seat, consider perhaps the virtue of the middle seat. Often overlooked, disregarded, or talked of disparagingly, there is at least one good thing about being wedged between two strangers. One may be that unicorn we all hope we get – a hot girl on a plane.
* There are a few known problems with the calculations. It does not factor in the aircraft seat configuration, passenger load, or accurate passenger data. Also differences between airlines and origin and destination cities. Maybe someone can go all the way with this?