Is Your Airline Safe? Here’s How to Check
How safe did you feel during your last flight? Chances are the flight was uneventful and perhaps boring—especially if you fly often. In today’s world, over 100,000 flights take place per day on average. Statistically speaking, traveling by air is far safer than driving, with various experts pegging the chances of dying in a plane crash as low as one in 20 million. While it’s better for an airline to avoid accidents entirely, engines still fail, people make mistakes, and bad weather and bird strikes happen. In fact, with major airlines employing tens of thousands of employees, from pilots and flight attendants to mechanics and ground crew, it takes a lot to run an airline safely.
Given the limited number of airline accidents, it’s easy for seasoned business travelers to assume that all airlines operate with safety as a top priority. However, despite the exceptionally low rate of passenger fatalities, flying on certain airlines, especially those not subject the Federal Aviation Administration’s oversight, puts you at greater risk of becoming a statistic. So how do you determine which airline to trust with your life?
Access publicly available databases
To help the flying public evaluate an airline’s safety, several companies compile information on previous accidents, the ages of the airline’s planes, and results of government audits and regulatory reports. For example, airlineratings.com allows anyone to compare over 407 airlines from around the globe and their safety records, including their standing with government agencies and industry regulators. The site also contains reviews from previous passengers.
See what others say on social media
When an airline fails to meet passengers’ expectations, they often turn to social media to vent their frustration. Search online for posts mentioning your airline and its approach to safety. While anecdotal comments leave lots open to interpretation, if numerous passengers post repeatedly about the professionalism of an airline’s employees, that provides a window into the culture, which is particularly important when it comes to operating an airline safely.
Pay attention to how the airline handles a crisis
Despite an airline’s best efforts, a lot can happen outside of their control, such as a natural disaster or the failure of the air traffic control system. While an airline’s operating history provides a measure of their commitment to safety and security, how the company responds to an unexpected crisis serves as another way to gauge its ability to respond to serious events. In fact, just as safety requires a concerted effort from employees throughout the airline, so too does responding to a major weather system that grounds the airline’s planes. If an airline fails to appropriately respond to a natural disaster, that inability to communicate and marshal their resources may also have implications for their ability to ensure a safe operating environment.
Bottom line: While safety is a subjective concept, when it comes to air travel, there’s plenty of information to help you select an airline with confidence.