11 Facts That Will Curb Your Fear of Flying, Once and for All

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First and foremost, the old cliche about air travel being the safest way to travel is absolutely true. For every billion passenger miles traveled by commercial airplane, only 0.07 people die. This sounds alarming until you learn that for every billion miles traveled in a car, 7.2 people die. In fact, more people die riding a bus than flying in a plane.

And believe it or not, last year was one of the safest years ever recorded. There were just four fatal air accidents in 2021, resulting in 81 deaths (down from five crashes and 299 deaths in 2020). That makes 2021 the safest year for air travel since 2017, when there was just one passenger jet accident. While any death in a plane crash is a tragedy, the fact is your chances of experiencing an accident, much less dying, are more remote than ever. In fact, 62 of the air travel deaths recorded in 2021 occurred when Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 crashed into the sea in January 2021, a crash partially blamed on the age of the Boeing 737, which had seen 26 years of service.

The other fatalities in 2021 all involved small prop planes, not big commercial jets. And there were only 34 non-fatal accidents involving air travel in 2021, down from 35 in 2020. All in all, that makes the fatal accident rate for air travel last year a pretty reassuring one in 5.3 million, a huge improvement over 2020’s one in 3.7 million. And if you’re wondering what airline is the safest, that would be Air New Zealand.