Today’s Middle Seat column in the Wall Street Journal features a headline asking the ridiculous question, “How Safe Are International Airlines?” Americans have wild misconceptions about airline safety, especially from airlines with which they are not familiar (I have had friends ask if AirTran is “safe.”)
Middle Seat is one of the top aviation columns in the country, but the lack of perspective in the column (and the ridiculous headline written by an editor) is striking. Yes, there are airlines out there banned by the EU – 233 to be exact. But most-to-nearly-all of these airlines are obscure cargo airlines (Air West Co of the Sudan, anyone?). You will likely not find yourself on any of these airlines ever.
To suggest that “international airlines” have a problem, suggests that a perfectly legitimate airline with which you are unfamiliar is somehow “less safe” than a US airline. That is simply nonsense. And it’s not as if the banned airlines are exactly falling out of the sky. Even airlines not certified by airline trade group IATA have what would be considered a major accident only .81 times per million flights (compared to .52 per million for certified airlines).
A bit of perspective? In 2008, 34,017 people died in car accidents in the United States. That’s 12 people for every 100,000 people in the US. That’s unbelievable compared to the safety of even flying an obscure Angolan airlines.
Flying is safe, no matter what airline you are flying. Let’s keep it in perspective…