The Experience That 99% Of Air Travelers Won’t Even Have Once In Their Lifetime

I traveled on seat 6E on a recent Indigo Airlines flight from PNQ to MAA. This is a common seat number on all flights. It’s not even one of the most preferred seats selected by frequent flyers. So, what’s the big deal?

6E also happens to be the airline code of Indigo Airlines.

Of the 20-odd airlines that I must have flown by over the years, I’ve never been on a single flight where my seat number matched the airline code. So, the match that I experienced on this Indigo trip was a first time occurrence for me. A little bit of back-of-the-envelope analysis would show that it’s extremely rare for anyone in the world.

Seat numbers are alphanumeric, with the row number followed by a letter denoting the position of the seat on the given row e.g. 6E. Therefore, they can’t match airline codes that are purely alphabetical e.g. AI (Air India), AA (American Airways), BA (British Airways), DL (Delta), LH (Lufthansa), SQ (Singapore Airlines) and SG (Spicejet), to name a few.

Now, coming to airlines that have alphanumeric codes.

We can skip Air Sahara (S2), GoAir (G8), Paramount Airways (I7) and other airlines that have codes beginning with a letter since seat numbers must begin with a numeral.

Next, if we look at airline codes that begin with a number and are followed by a letter, we can rule out the following airlines from our list:

  • Amber Air (0A) and others whose codes begin with zero, since seat numbers can’t begin with zero.
  • Airlines whose codes contain L to Z since the widest body aircraft currently flying has no more than ten seats in a row, thereby making K the last letter used for identifying seats (Source: Wikipedia). Examples of airlines in this category are Air Philippines (2P), Air Vegas (6V), Jet Airways (9W), and many other airlines.
  • Sky Trek International Airlines (1I), International Business Air (6I), Myway Airlines (7I) and a few other airlines that have ‘I’ in their codes. Since it could cause a mixup with the numeral ‘1’, the letter ‘I’ is generally left out of seat numbers.

Therefore, it’s only on airlines whose codes begin with a numeral between 1 and 9 and are followed by a letter between A and K (barring I) that a seat number can match the airline code. According to this list developed by me, there are only 73 such airlines globally, which constitute just 1.35% of the 5,666 airlines in the world. BTW, Indigo is the only airline from India on this list.

So, flying on a seat number that matches the airline code is very rare indeed. Almost 99% of air travelers will never have this experience even once in their lifetime.

On another note, when I reached my seat, I noticed that someone else was already sitting there. They’d obviously mixed up the airline code printed on the boarding card for their seat number. I can bet that *this confusion* is not so rare after all.

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