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Airplane Safety Tips

In reading through dozens of airplane safety tips posted on government and airline web sites, it's apparent to me that the two most important plane safety tips are:

  1. Whenever possible, choose to fly in the largest plane available. Planes that seat 30 or more passengers are subject to the strictest safety regulations. They also have more "meat" to absorb energy upon impact, thereby increasing the chances of passengers surviving.
  2. It's well established that the majority of all airplane accidents occur while airplanes are descending (approximately 60 percent), or when they are ascending (approximately 35 percent). Ergo, flying nonstop whenever possible is always the best choice.

I often hear that the probability of being in an airplane crash is far lower than the probability of being in an automobile crash. Despite this statistic, I will always choose a car over an airplane, even if I have to drive 55 hours to get to the other side of the continent. I've promised my wife a trip to San Francisco someday when the kids are married, so if all goes well, a 110-hour road trip is definitely in our future.

Seriously, I realize that by and large, flying in large commercial airplanes is just as safe as any other form of transportation. I just think it's important to remember that there is always risk of injury in everything we do, and in the case of flying in airplanes, the two safety tips that are listed above are well worth heeding.


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Sarah said...

#1 was news to me; #2 I could have assumed by common sense. I used to sincerely enjoy flying, but in light of recent events I now find it to be quite burdonsome.

Thanks for the great tips.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006 9:10:49 PM
Anonymous said...

As a licensed auto insurance agent, i can assure you that flying IS the safer way to travel! Dr Kim, if you're planning a trip to SF, plz consider flying. Safer, cheaper (cost of gas!) plus WHY waste all that time sitting on your bottom? Sure, you'll see nice stuff out the window, but after awhile, it's all pretty much the same. Better use of time is to GET THERE and then use the time to enjoy what you went to see! Thanks for a grt website!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006 2:33:21 PM
Ben Kim said...

Thank you, licensed auto insurance agent, for the wise advice. :)

Unless my wife really wants to see Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada along the way, maybe we will fly to British Columbia and drive down the coast. I've never been through Oregon and would love to visit some of its beaches.

In any case, we're at least 20 years away from making this trip, so for now, we'll have to settle on re-runs of Mrs. Doubtfire to see and feel the beauty of the San Francisco bay area.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006 2:41:50 PM
Anonymous said...

i have been a flight attendant for over 30 yrs....flying is safe if you follow the rules onboard...wear your seat belt at all times.....look around you for your exits..know where they are..count seat backs to the exit just incase the airplane is consumed with smoke or no lighting..wear your shoes for take off and landing and be awear for take off and landing..also treating the flight crews with respect we are really on there for your safety...if the faa did not require one f/a for every 50 ensure your safety in an emergency,,,,,there would be one f/a on these airplanes...and you would be getting your own drinks- pillows -blankets-and listening to your own complaints..
Wednesday, October 18, 2006 4:36:21 PM
Trevor said...

#3 Sit at the back of the aircraft. Did you ever hear of a plane "reversing" into a mountain?
Wednesday, October 18, 2006 4:38:36 PM
julia said...

Actually, I was told by a pilot that it was safest to sit at the wings, thus in the middle of the plane, as it is the point of the plane that is the strongest and most stable. But who knows really.. I guess everything that we do is a risk in life, so it is important to remember to try and enjoy it while we're here. :)
Thursday, October 19, 2006 5:42:10 AM
Anonymous said...

I don't know if you will see this comment Dr. Kim, but even if the odds of crashing in a car are greater thatn crashing while a passenger in an airplane, the odds of walking away uninjured from an auto accident are far greater than walking away uninjured from an airplane crash.
Thursday, October 19, 2006 12:15:50 PM
Anonymous said...

Along with the dangers of flying in an airplane, it has one of the highest radiation exposure compared to ther sources so at least your avoiding that too, just thought that would be useful to tell everyone
Take care.
Saturday, October 21, 2006 4:32:43 PM
Anonymous said...

I have a cousin that works at an airport. Her job is safety and she also examines plane wrecks for the cause of the wreck, etc. She told me to NEVER wear any clothing that is not cotton because synthetics will melt on your skin in case there is a fire. She said the possiblilty of survival in a fire caused by plane crash is almost zero if you are wearing polyester or other synthetic. Since then I make sure I have on cotton from the inside out when on a plane. I can dress up after I arrive at my destination.

Thanks for keeping us informed!
Saturday, December 02, 2006 4:36:19 PM