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Q: Air travel ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Air travel
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: traveler06-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 07 Mar 2006 12:42 PST
Expires: 06 Apr 2006 13:42 PDT
Question ID: 704665
How safe is air travel?  What is the risk of fatality for commercial flights?

What is the safest, most reliable aircraft and which are less safe? 
What airlines have the safest flight records?  

I will be travelling from the New York area (Newark, JFK or another airport) to
Barcelona in May.  I intend to fly to the Canary Islands later in the
month, and then back to NYC.  I do not think there are direct flights
to New York from the Islands, so I would expect to fly to Madrid,
Lisbon or back to Barcelona, depending on what would be the best
flight arrangements.  I would prefer non-stop flights, to have fewer
takeoffs and landings (again, safety reasons).  What airlines and
flights should I choose, with travel safety as the only consideration?

Traffic control and airport reliability is another factor that comes to mind.
Subject: Re: Air travel
Answered By: umiat-ga on 08 Mar 2006 12:50 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello, traveler06-ga! 
 I have compiled numerous links for you to review. The extensive
nature of your question coupled with variable dates and airport
locations does not allow me to recommend a specific airline.
Furthermore, any recommendations would depend on changes in dates and
the flights/airlines available each day, etc. The Canary Islands, for
example, have two major airports and you will need to decide which
location is best suited to your needs.
 I believe I have compiled enough information for you to research the
best choices according to your comfort level. Remember - thousands of
aircraft fly each day, and we rarely hear of a major airliner going
down. On the other end, we hear of vehicle accidents on a daily basis.

 The best strategy might be to print out the airline safety record
sheets, highlight the airlines you hope to book, and then put your
dates into a comprehensive search engine like Orbitz. Orbitz allows
you to search by non-stop flight, air carrier, price - and then see
what airplane model is used for each flight.

 If you prefer to stay with U.S-based airline carriers, your decisions
will be that much easier. I am not recommending a carrier because I
did not find any warning flags associated with any of the major
airlines flying betweent the United States and Spain, or
Barcelona/Madrid/Canary Isands to the United States. Nor did I uncover
any significantly dangerous airports for the various legs of your


I have compiled some more in-depth links below, but has
provided an interesting, up-to-date overview of airline safety that
you should find quite interesting.

Read "Top 10 Airline Safety Questions."

 1. Where is the safest place to sit on an airplane? 
   The short answer is there is no safest seat.....

 2. Which is the safest airline to fly? 

   "Clearly there are some major airlines such as Southwest of the USA which   
   have not had a passenger die in an accident and others such as United 
   Airlines and Korean Air which have had several fatal events. Those facts 
   don't make one airline automatically safer than the other although it does 
   affect the public's perception of safety.....

 3. Which aircraft model is the safest? 

   "In general, all aircraft in a particular class have to adhere to the same 
   set of standards. When safety concerns arise because of one or more 
   accidents associated with a particular model, the civil aviation 
   authorities of the major industrialized  countries will usually require 
   that the issue be addressed in all relevant aircraft models....

 4. What kind of emergency am I most likely to face? 

   "For every accident, there are dozens, even hundreds of unusual 
   circumstances that can happen during a flight. For a passenger, the most 
   likely emergencies that you will face where you will have to do something 
   is an evacuation of the aircraft using the emergency slides or using the 
   emergency oxygen system...

 5. How should I prepare to face these two situations? 

 6. If the plane crashes, don't most people die? 
 7. Who decides on what changes are made for safety? 

 8. Who investigates airline accidents?

 9. Is flying getting safer or less safe today compared with 10 or 20 years 

10. How often do airliners crash? 

    "If one considers a crash to be any accident that leads to a passenger 
    fatality to be a crash, then these events happen infrequently....


Also see tips:



The easiest chart to read can be found on the link.
When you look at the list, keep in mind the following:

"There are many factors that contribute to the safety rating of an
airline including, but not limited to, accident history, maintenance
and operational procedures, types of training programs, age of fleet,
management, and specific routes flown. In addition, many accidents are
caused by circumstances beyond the control of the airline, including,
operations and instrumentation at airports, Air Traffic Controller
errors, collisions with other aircraft that are at fault, sabotage,
manufacturer's design flaws, weather or just plain bad luck. Even if
all factors could be factored in, an airline accident is such a rare
event that a valid safety rating would be difficult. Accidents are
extremely rare, with the probability of a passenger being killed on a
single flight at approximately eight million-to-one. If a passenger
boarded a flight at random, once a day, everyday, it would be
approximately 22,000 years before he or she would be killed."

The accident rates below are based on only three basic parameters. The
number of flights, the number of fatal accidents and the fatality rate
of those accidents.

See "Airline Accident Rates - Data for 1985 - 2005" 


You can also review the safety records of selected airlines on Airline
Safety Records for both 1 and 5-year periods:

Five Year Average from January 1, 2000 to January 1, 2005

One Year Average from January 1,  2004 to January 1, 2005

** Before you take these safety rankings to heart, however, you might
want to read the following snippet from the Federal Aviation
Administration website:

"A report prepared for the FAA by GRA, Inc. entitled A Report on
Issues Related to Public Interest in Aviation Safety Data, found that
"... there currently is no evidence in accident data that would
support the ranking of individual airlines based on their safety
records.While there may be apparent differences in carrier safety
records at any particular time, due largely to the infrequent but
catastrophic nature of an air accident, there is no evidence that such
distinctions persist nor that they are predictive of future safety
performance. Rankings of airlines based on past accident records
therefore provide no information to consumers seeking to make
safety-enhancing comparisons for current or future travel choices."


Also see:

Airlines With No Fatal Events Since 1970 - United States and Canada

"European Airlines with No Fatal Passenger Events Since 1970."


If you want to make sure that the airlines you select meet the FAA
standards, you might want to select a U.S. based air carrier:

 See "Does FAA provide safety oversight for international flights?"


"Fatal Event Rates for Selected Airliner Models."


The only partial list I could find is on the link below, which ranks
U.S. airports only.

See "How Safe Is Your Airport?" 2003

 (Note the links for safety reports at the bottom no longer work)


If you really want to find the recorded accidents by locations, you
can look on, but I don't think the collisions recoreded by
locale are really going to tell you much! Simply type in the location
you want to explore in the search box on the upper left.

 For example: Fatal Airline Events Associated with New York City

 * As you can see, these accidents really don't tell much about the airport!



Exerpt from Fromers:

From North America:

"Flights from the U.S. east coast to Spain take 6 to 7 hours. The
national carrier of Spain, Iberia Airlines  has more routes into and
within Spain than any other airline. It offers almost daily services
from most major U.S. cites (New York, Washington, Chicago, Atlanta)
either direct to Barcelona or via Madrid."

"Iberia's main Spain-based competitor is Air Europa which offers a
daily service from Newark Airport using Continental Airlines to
Madrid, with connecting flights to Barcelona. Fares are usually lower
than Iberia's."

"Delta runs daily nonstop service from Atlanta (its worldwide hub) and
New York (JFK) to Barcelona. Delta's Dream Vacation department offers
independent fly/drive packages, land packages, and escorted bus

"United Airlines does not fly into Spain directly. It does, however,
offer airfares from the United States to Spain with United flying as
far as Zurich, and then using another carrier to complete the journey.
United also offers fly/drive packages and escorted motor coach tours."

JFK to Barcelona

I looked for some sample flights between JFK and Barcelona on Orbitz.
Orbitz allows you to select flight criteria for one-way, round-trip,
non-stop flights and price. It will also show you the type of airplane
used by the airline company for the selected flights.

Delta was the only airline which offered a non-stop flight on several
dates I selected, but this might change by date. The airplane used by
Delta on the one-way flights I found was a Boing 767.

Sample Delta non-stop flights (scroll down to the non-stop Delta flight):

Sample one-way flights from JFK to Barcelona in mid-May found the
following airlines:

** In case my search results are no longer available to you, some of
the larger airlines offering flights with one stop were United (Boeing
777), American (Airbus A340), British Airways, (Boeing 747 or 777),
Delta (Boeing 767), Aer Lingus (Airbus A330), Iberia (Airbus 346) and
Swiss Air (Airbus 332)

** Keep in mind - when you check out these airline models on the
Selected Airline Model Fatality list - the correlation between number
of flights flown per number of events!

La Guardia to Barcelona

 I could find no non-stop flights on several days I selected. A few
carriers offered one-stop flights, but they were routed other U.S
cities first. U.S Airways and Delta both used Boeing 767's to

Newark to Barcelona

I tried a few sample dates for one-way flights in May and found no
non-stop flights, but that may change with the dates you select.

Many of the same airlines and models were available for 1-stop
flights, but in addition, Continental and Northwest are also on the
list from Newark.

Continental (Boeing 747 and 767), Northwest (Airbus A332), United (Airbus 313)  


Barcelona to Tenerife

Sample searches on Orbitz brought up non-stop flights from Spanish Air
(Boeing 717 and Douglas MD-83)
and Air Euopa (Boeing 737). See

Barcelona to Las Palmos

Sample searches on Orbitz brought up non-stop flights from Spanish Air
(Boeing Douglas MD-83), Air Europa (Boeing 737) and Iberia (Airbus
A320). See


Tenerife to JFK:

 Most flights seem to go through London or Madrid. None are non-stop.

See a sample Orbitz search:

Tenerife to Newark:

Most flights appear to go through the UK to Newark. None are non-stop.
See sample Orbitz search:


 I found no specific dangers listed concerning airports in Spain.
While one of the most horrific air collisions occured in Tenerife in
1977, this was due to air traffic controller error and was one
accident among thousands of flights over the years!

 An overview of airports in Spain may be found on the following link: 


 The Canary Islands are serviced by several airports. You will need to
choose an airport and airline based on your preferences.

 See descriptions below: 

Gran Canaria Airport: 
"Gran Canaria airport is located 18km (11 miles) south of Las Palmas.
1 terminal on three floors (ground floor Arrivals, first floor
Departures). Arrivals and Departures are divided into three areas:
European Union (A), International (B) and Inter-Island (C)
The airport is called Las Palmas and is the gateway to the ultimate
holiday island - Gran Canaria, which is famous above all for the
tourist resorts of Playa del Ingles, Maspalomas and Puerto Rico, all
of which are on the south coast of the island. The capital Las Palmas
is situated in the north and has a sandy beach - La Cantera - which is
several kilometres long. The town also has a convivial historic centre
with lots of shops. Ideal as a change from the beach."

Tenerife North Airport - Los Rodeos: 
"There are two airports on the island of Tenerife, one on the north
side (Tenerife Norte, TFN, also known as "Aeropuerto de Los Rodeos")
and the other one on the south of the island (Tenerife Sur, TFS, also
known as "Aeropuerto Reina Sofia"). Both airports are at about 2.5
hours flying time from Madrid, and about 3 hours from Barcelona."
"Puerto de la Cruz lies some 35 km from the Los Rodeos airport (TFN),
and 100 km from the Reina Sofia (TFS) airport, with a motorway link
covering the full journey in both cases. The easiest access is from
the northern Airport (TFN) along the TF-5 motorway. This is an
approximately 20 to 30 minute journey along the coast. The South
Airport (TFS, or Reina Sofia) is more than an hour away along the TF-1
and then TF-5 motorways.

"Most domestic flights go to the Tenerife North Airport, TFN. All
charter flights go to the Tenerife South Airport, TFS. Most people
travelling on scheduled flights will have to fly via Madrid or
Barcelona and then on to the northern airport. Three airlines fly
scheduled flights in from the Spanish mainland: Iberia, Air Europa and
Spanair. The strong competition between them has substantially lowered
the airfares to the Canaries in the past years. Please book your
flights early! Scheduled flights from Madrid and Barcelona to Tenerife
as well as charter flights from some European countries can be heavily
booked at certain times of the year. We have selected a date for the
conference that avoids important public holidays, but seats may not be
available at short notice."

La Palma Airport: 
"All in all La Palma is a quiet airport with mostly Charter traffic.
Main season is winter, most quiet months are May and September.
Scheduled flight traffic is low - the destinations are Tenerife North
(nearly hourly service), Las Palmas/Gran Canaria(2x daily),
Lanzarote(3x a week), El Hierro (2x a week) and Madrid (4x a week).
Operating hours are from 8-21:30 GMT." 


 I hope the information I have provided helps you to make a decision
you feel comfortable with. Again, nothing dangerous stood out in terms
of airline carrier, airline model or airport location on any of the
legs of your trip. I think you can make a much easier decision if you
narrow your choices down to major airline carriers - U.S-based if that
makes you feel more comfortable - and then selecting flights with the
least number of stops.
 Have a great trip!



Search Strategy

airline safety record
airline models AND safety
Airport safety ratings
safest airports
most dangerous airports
safety record Madrid Airport
safety Barcelona Airport
safety record of El Prat Barcelona Airport
travelling from U.S. to Spain
Canary Islands
Airports in Spain

Clarification of Answer by umiat-ga on 08 Mar 2006 12:52 PST
I already see that my Orbitz search results are no longer available.
You will need to put in your flight information by selecting one-way
flights in order to see the results.

Request for Answer Clarification by traveler06-ga on 14 Mar 2006 10:07 PST

I am comparing the Airline Accident Rates, at, with
the 2000-2005 Five Year Average for accidents, at  The former shows Delta's and
Continental's last accidents to be 1996 and 1991, respectively.  The
latter shows accidents per 1,000,000 takeoffs for these airlines as
other than 0.  I do not understand.  Can you help?

Clarification of Answer by umiat-ga on 14 Mar 2006 11:24 PST
Hi, traveler06 - defines an accident as an event that includes at
least one fatality. defines an accident as
one which includes one or more fatalities  - OR  - an incident where
the aircraft has sustained substantial damage:

Definition :
The NTSB classifies an "Aircraft accident" as "an occurrence
associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between
the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight
and all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers
death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial

 Therefore, Delta and Continental have had no accidents involving
fatalities since 1996 and 1991, respectively. Does this help?


Request for Answer Clarification by traveler06-ga on 05 Apr 2006 08:22 PDT
I recently came across a news report about design problems with the
Airbus A300-600, responsible in part for the crash of American
Airlines Flight 587 in 2001.  How serious is this problem?  Does it
apply to Airbus models A320, A321 and A346, as well?

Clarification of Answer by umiat-ga on 05 Apr 2006 19:20 PDT
Hello, traveler06-ga!
 I am currently out of town visiting an ill family member and expect
to be home tomorrow evening. I am more than willing to look into this
issue for you, but at this point, I believe it exceeds the parameters
of the original question. If you would like to address another
question to me concerning these particular airline models, I will see
what I can find. Feel free to put "For Umiat" in the title of the
question if you wish to proceed in this manner and I will go from
traveler06-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

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