The past few months have rocked the commercial aviation industry. A series of tragic crashes has left the most relaxed travelers among us anxious and asking, “How can I be assured a safe flight?”
We here at CheapAir now receive phone calls and emails from customers who have lost their confidence in international air travel. The world in which we live does give rise to worry and it’s normal to wonder if your flight will be secure, especially when flying over regions involved in conflict and geopolitical unrest. Though international aviation might not feel like the best bet these days, the fact remains that you are still more likely to die from a bee sting or even get struck by lightning than you are to die in a commercial airplane crash.
While no airline or government can provide a 100% guarantee of safety for travelers, we can offer some compelling reassurance. The United States is arguably the most air-safety-conscious country in the world and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has its finger on the pulse of any and all international incidents that could impact Americans traveling abroad. The FAA issues airspace restrictions and travel advisories liberally as the situation warrants. You can see all current advisories on the FAA site. These restrictions affect any U.S. airline operating anywhere in the world and are respected as aviation law by U.S. air carriers. Just this week, the FAA has issued a flight restriction for all U.S. air carriers, instructing them to fly at an altitude no lower than 30,000 feet over Iraqi airspace.
Air carrier safety standards around the world do vary. When flying with an international airline, do some research before finalizing your plans. For immediate concerns, you can always reach out to the airline directly and determine whether it is presently diverting flights around trouble spots. For example, most international airlines were exercising extreme caution in Ukrainian air space even in the months leading up to the Malaysian Air tragedy. And the European Union maintains a list of airlines banned from flying in E.U. airspace due to unsafe or under-regulated conditions. The E.U. has one of the best air safety records in the world, so they are rightly seen as the gold standard in international aviation safety.
Some countries have better safety records than others. In recent years, Russia has come under increased scrutiny for a variety of reasons: faulty Soviet-era equipment, Russian airlines’ inability or unwillingness to spend money required for more stringent international safety standards, and the sheer number of airline crashes (a mind-boggling nine air tragedies in 2011) by Russian aircraft. The Congo and Indonesia also each have poor safety records.
Still concerned? You might want to book your next trip on Qantas Airlines. Since the Aussie airline launched in the early 1950’s it has had a fatality-free flying record. The website www.airlineratings.com gives Qantas the highest safety rating of 7 stars. Review the criteria used to calculate an airline’s safety rating. Other airlines that get 7 stars include Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Eva Air, Royal Jordanian, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
U.S. airlines themselves are heavily invested in flight safety. In an increasingly competitive market, their continued existence is in part predicated on clean safety records. Internal teams monitor political situations around the world and they always err on the side of caution when making decisions on flight paths around areas of unrest.
Educate yourself. Know the facts. Air travel is still the safest mode of transport. CNN has compiled a comprehensive report on air travel safety that drills down into these statistics. You can view the full flight safety report, but the short answer? We are currently experiencing a very safe period in aviation history, even with the unfortunate events of the year to date. If you start to panic, remind yourself that a full 50% of us will die of some form of cardiovascular disease. By comparison, you have a one one-hundred-thousandth of one percent (.00000014) chance of meeting your death in the air. You should spend much more of your capacity for worry on whether or not that giant plate of nachos from Chili’s® or those two Big Macs are a good idea.
The aviation industry has the resources and the incentive to correct safety deficits as they occur and with every malfunction they work to create an environment in which that malfunction cannot occur again. More people than ever before are traveling via air, and yet, statistically, your odds of being in an airline crash continue to decline. It may be difficult to do at times, but we urge you to “keep calm and carry on,” as the retro slogan states. We’ve also put together a list of 5 Simple Tips to Combat Flight Anxiety that may help you relax. We consider our customers friends, and as such we aim to bring you service that is thorough, professional and thoughtful. Should you have any questions about the flights you’ve booked with us and/or the airline’s commitment to your safety, we would love to hear from you. Please leave your comment below, tweet to us @CheapAir, or email your questions to [email protected].