Air Travel Safety Tips

Flying is safer than ever before, but there are still a few safety tips to keep in mind the next time you board a plane

Plane seats can withstand an impact of 16 times the force of gravity

With today’s airplane technology, flying is safer than ever before — but it still pays to learn a few safety rules

The photos and videos showing the final seconds of Asiana flight 214 are incredible in many ways. Seeing them, one might think the only possible result would be a horrific tragedy. Instead, the July 6 accident on the San Francisco airport runway led to only three confirmed fatalities so far, and more than 100 passengers walked away without even needing a hospital visit. Yes, it was a terrible accident, but it’s also a testimony to how safe flying has become today.

Planes Are Built to Withstand More Impact

Part of that safety comes from the planes themselves. Today’s aircraft are stronger and more durable than before, built with materials designed to better withstand the heat of a fire, and with exits that are easier to open. The seats are better built as well, and can withstand an impact of 16 times the force of gravity.

In the initial photos of the Asiana flight, it appears nearly all the seats held in place on impact — meaning passengers were able to get up, step into the aisles and evacuate by the exit doors.

Flight Attendants are More Skilled

Improved safety also comes from the training and skill of flight attendants, who now practice evacuation of smoke-filled cabins rather than just learning about it.

Air Travel Safety Tips

Finally, it’s important for passengers to remember that take-off and landing are the two most critical points in the flight where the likelihood of an evacuation is increased. To that end, a few tips are worth remembering every time you fly:

  • Keep your shoes on, except high heels because they will pop the evacuation slides. Shoes make a big difference when trying to move through the aisles, off the plane and away.
  • Wear pants when feasible. The slides are not particularly comfortable in shorts, a skirt or a dress.
  • Count the rows to the nearest exit. Knowing how far to go when you’re crawling along the aisle can make a huge difference in actually getting there.
  • Listen to the crew! In the Asiana case, there were two doors at the front of the plane that couldn’t be used during the evacuation, but crew members were able to redirect passengers to working exits quickly.

Remember, flying remains one of the safest (if not the safest) modes of transportation available today. Professors at MIT have said that riding on a commercial airplane carries about the same amount of risk as riding on an escalator, and that the chance of being killed in a crash is one in 90 million. That means you could fly every day for the next 250,000 years before you would perish in a crash. Pretty incredible odds, if you ask me!

Claire Newell is the travel media expert for Global BC, host of the travel series Operation: Vacation, best-selling author, spokesperson, wife and mother of two.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.