Airplanes: Still one of the safest ways to travel (and here are some statistics to prove it!)

Posted on May 20th, 2015 by BreAnn

With a bunch of airline crashes topping headlines over the past year or so, it may have put some doubt and hesitation in your heart about the safety of flying. In reality, right now airline crashes are at an all-time low, and there are some incredible statistics to prove it.  Did you know you only have a 1 in 4.7 MILLION chance of being killed on a single airline flight!? You are twice as likely to be struck by lightning!

The ONLY reason airline crashes put such fear in our minds is because they are huge catastrophic events, and TONS of media outlets thoroughly cover and bring to our attention these horrific happenings.  Think about it… recently there was the latest Germanwings flight in March that killed 150, the TransAsia airways crash in Taiwan in February, the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down near the Ukrainian-Russia border last year, and who could forget the Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight gone missing last March? Unfortunately, all of these incidents and the media coverage surrounding them have caused a dismal illusion about the safety of flying.

Never fear, BreAnn is here! Airplanes are very safe!

NEVER FEAR, BREANN IS HERE! I’m here to reassure you that flying is still very safe, and you should NOT let the latest tragedies discourage you from getting out there and exploring the world and enjoying travel, culture, relaxation, activities, and more!  Please read on, because there is a LOT of great information I’ve gathered that has actually helped ME feel better about flight travel as well. I’ll admit… even though I flew on 36+ flights in a year of travel in 2013, I still had a sinking feeling in my stomach any time we hit some turbulence, or during any flight landing…. But NOW, ESPECIALLY after reading all these statistics, I realize there really IS nothing to worry about!

Aviation Crashes and Deaths are at the lowest in history!

Because of the comprehensive media coverage of the latest flight incidents around the world, it seems that the number of crashes is UP, but in reality the 20 crashes that occurred in 2014 with a total of 692 deaths was the LOWEST in recorded history!  Harro Ranter, president of Aviation Safety Network says that based on 2000’s accident rates per 1 million passengers, we could have expected to see 39 passenger flight accidents in 2014 — so only 20 accidents really isn’t a lot.

Here are more specific numbers of past flight deaths and incidents:

Aviation Deaths Per Year (Flights Carrying More Than 14 Passengers)

  • 2014: 692 deaths caused by 20 incidents
  • 2005: 1074 deaths caused by 40 incidents
  • 1996: 1845 deaths caused by 57 incidents
  • 1985: 2010 deaths caused by 42 incidents
  • 1972: 2373 deaths caused by 72 incidents

Source:  Aviation Safety Network 

The numbers continue to decrease nowadays as older aircraft are being replaced, technology is being updated, and the aviation industry is quick to learn from all accidents, improving policies and training.

You are FAR more likely to die from pretty much almost ANYTHING other than a plane crash

Like I mentioned above, you only have a 1 in 4.7 MILLION chance of being killed on a single airline flight.

In your entire LIFETIME, you are still only 1 in 8,500 likely to die in an “air travel accident”, and are actually more likely to die from the flu, electrocution, or falling down!

Here is a list of some other causes of death and your odds of death (over your entire lifespan):

Chance of death
in your lifetime
Cause of death
1-in-5 Heart Disease
1-in-7 Cancer
1-in-9 Smoking-related death
1-in-23 Stroke
1-in-35 Obesity-related death
1-in-36 Accidental Injury
1-in-49 Heavy Drinking
1-in-100 Motor Vehicle Accident
1-in-119 Unintentional poisoning
1-in-121 Suicide
1-in-152 Falling Down
1-in-325 Assault by Firearm
1-in-649 Choking
1-in-723 Accident as a pedestrian
1-in-1,116 Fire or Smoke
1-in-4,717 Bicycle accident
1-in-5,000 Electrocution
1-in-8,142 Drowning
1-in-8,210 Flu
1-in-8,357 Air Travel Accident
1-in-30,000 Flood
1-in-60,000 Tornado
1-in-83,930 Lightning Strike
1-in-100,000 Snake, Bee or other Venomous Bite or Sting
1-in-131,890 Earthquake
1-in-147,717 Dog Attack
1-in-500,000 Tsunami
1-in-500,000 Asteroid Impact

SOURCES: National Center for Health Statistics, CDC; American Cancer Society; National Safety Council; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; World Health Organization; USGS; Clark Chapman, SwRI; David Morrison, NASA; Michael Paine, Planetary Society Australian Volunteers

Ignore the media frenzy over plane crashes and remember that flying is still safe!

After looking at this list, isn’t it OBVIOUS that we all should be concerned MOST about being healthy and treating our bodies well, instead of obsessing over the miniscule chance that we’ll die in a crash or from some crazy natural disaster?  However, as awful as heart disease and strokes are, they don’t kill people in such vividly tragic ways as plane crashes do. Again, I must stress the MAIN reason people have anxiety about these huge disasters and overlook the danger of medical issues is because plane crashes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods are all:
1. HUGE catastrophic events
2. that kill many people all at one time,
3. are extremely disastrous, and
4. are extensively covered by media outlets of every kind, all over the world

Stop worrying about the turbulence in that plane and eat some vegetables instead. 🙂


If you’re still apprehensive about flying and just can’t kick that anxiety, these resources may help

Check out the stats of your upcoming flight so you can relax once you are onboard

For a little less than a dollar, you can put a “fear of flying” app on your phone which gathers published flight and crash statistics to give an indication of flight safety of your specific flight. So, for example, if you’re flying on a Boeing 777 Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles on any given day, there’s a one in 4,068,434 chance that your plane will crash. That means if you take that flight every day for the next 11,146 years, you’ll still be unlikely to experience an incident.

Am I Going Down? Fear of Flying App 

Of course, the app is intended for entertainment purposes only, and the odds presented are only an estimate of historical risk and not a prediction of future performance.

Meanwhile, if you are still worried about your upcoming flight, you can check the safety of different airlines, although a good record is no guarantee of any future safety. Check these websites out for safety records and airline rankings:
Air Transport Rating Agency

You could also check to make sure your airline is part of the International Air Transport Association, which limits membership to airlines that have passed a safety audit (hint: pretty much any airline you’ve ever flown is already on this list!):
International Air Transport Association airline members

The European Union also maintains a list of airlines banned from operating there because they don’t meet safety standards here:
Airlines banned from the European Union

Um… yea… do I need to say more? Do I??  Do you see how UNLIKELY you are to be in a plane crash!? Breathe. Breathe. Get on that plane… you’re gonna be fine! 🙂


Just to take this one step further… here are some tips on how to survive a plane crash

Before you step foot on that plane, you can actually do a few things to prepare yourself in the unlikely event of a plane crash

OK, so if you still can’t breathe and you’re nonetheless panicked about being in a plane crash, would it help you to know that it’s usually not the impact of a plane crash that kills most people, but the smoke and fire afterwards—and that you can prepare ahead of time to give yourself a better chance of survival?

An experienced firefighter from Pittsburgh says, “There’s a fine line between victims and survivors a lot of times,” and that being prepared and alert can definitely boost your chance of survival.

According to the NTSB, 1 in 1.2 million flights will have some kind of accident, and 76 percent of passengers will survive even the most serious crashes. There have been instances such as the Air France plane crash in Toronto years ago where more than 300 people on board evacuated and survived, or two years ago when an Asiana Airlines plane crashed in San Francisco where—again—more than 300 people survived.

Here are some tips of how you can prepare yourself ahead of time to help your chances of survival in case of a crash:

  • It’s better to have your legs and feet covered, so don’t wear flip flops, high heels, shorts, dresses or skirts… you will have a less chance escaping if you have restrictive shoes or clothing.
  • It’s best to wear socks and long pants and a decent pair of shoes with a good rubber sole.
  • Always make sure you have a bottle of water and some kind of extra fabric (which could be anything from a handkerchief to a sweatshirt or jacket) in any flight you take, so if needed you could soak a piece of clothing in water and breathe through the fabric to help filter out smoke.
  • No matter how many times you’ve flown before, pay attention to the safety instructions you are given by the flight crew, as all airplanes are different. Take a few minutes to read the safety card in the plane seat pocket in front of you.
  • When you get on the plane, count how many seats or rows there are to the closest exit so if you have to evacuate and it is dark and/or smoke filled, you could more easily find your way out of the plane.
  • Stay alert during takeoff and landing, as statistics show that’s when most crashes happen


If you are actually in a plane crash, here are some tips to keep in mind that may help your chances of survival:

  • Again, make sure you read the safety instructions in the seat pocket so you know how to brace properly, because it’s VERY important that upon impact you keep your hands protected. Think about all the things you may need to do later to escape that you’d need your hands for: to unbuckle your seat belt, open the emergency hatch, help move debris out of the way, and be able to cover your face and mouth with fabric to get through the smoke safely.
  • When you exit, don’t crawl–as other people may trip over you– but you also don’t want to stand up too high because there’s more smoke, heat, and possibly toxic gases towards the ceiling. Walk out of the plane, but keep low.
  • As long as you are conscious and alert, get out FAST!– as fast as possible. It may only take 90 seconds for a fire outside a plane to move inside.
  • Don’t even bother to try to take any personal belongings with you… leave your luggage, laptops, and purses behind in an evacuation. Again, don’t forget that toxic smoke and fire can VERY quickly take over the whole plane.
  • Once you are outside of the plane, get as FAR away from the wreckage as possible.

Source: Pittsburgh CBS local

Anyway…. don’t be scared about the idea of a plane crash, as—again, indicated by the crazy statistics above—flying is VERY safe and there’s such a small chance of anything happening. However, in the very unlikely chance you will be involved in a plane crash, it’s the people who have some preparedness and situational awareness who end up being the survivors.


Wrap up

Maybe you should jump on this Air Tahiti plane next? 🙂

And that’s it, folks!  Moral of the story: flying is incredibly and statistically safe, and even if you ARE involved in a crash, you still have a high chance of survival.  So the next time you are sitting on an airplane thinking about the possibility of a crash, just make sure to breathe, relax, and remember the odds are COMPLETELY in your favor… and you’re going to be just fine! 🙂



What about you?–tell me about your flight worries. Have you had any potential airline incidents? What surprised you most about the information above? Please share in the comments section 🙂



Meanwhile, here’s a fun travel summary video which includes lots of video from our flight from China to Vietnam.  The airplane trip starts at 1:20:

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