Some airlines, such as British Airways and United (in older aircraft), have rear-facing seats in Business class in addition to the traditional front-facing seats.
These seats are often due to unconventional seating layouts that seek to maximize the utilization of space and provide direct-aisle access to the maximum possible number of passengers.
However, these seating layouts have another less known benefit. Multiple studies as well as data from air accidents have shown that rear-facing seats are much safer – sometimes as much as 10 times safer – than front-facing seats in the event of a sudden deceleration such as happens during a crash landing, according to the Smithsonian’s Air & Space magazine.
Experts say that rear-facing seats offer much more protection for the back, neck, head and parts of the arms and legs during sudden stops.
In fact, many of the new military transport planes have rear-facing seats.
However, airlines are yet to widely adopt rear-facing seats, partly because front-facing seats are the norm and partly because travelers are often uncomfortable with this arrangement, especially in layouts where they have to sit across from a front-facing passenger.