While air travel in much of the world is typically very safe – and the statistically higher frequency of vehicular accidents as opposed to aviation accidents is often cited in making this point – there are definitely some risks involved, particularly in the developing world. The absence of regulatory enforcement, costs constraints and a lax safety culture can all contribute to raising the risk.
There are several key steps you can take to greatly enhance your safety and security when traveling by air:
- Air carrier selection: Make every effort to select an airline with a good safety record. This may mean a longer or more costly trip but it’s still worthwhile.
- Avoid trouble spots: avoid changing flights in cities with serious safety concerns. A flight delay or cancellation could force you to remain overnight will little preparation or knowledge of the local threat environment.
- Carry essential items on board in your carry-on bag. Don’t put valuables or items that are critical for your trip in checked baggage. Checked baggage may be lost or stolen or items may be pilfered from inside the bag.
- At the airport clear the security checkpoint as quickly as possible and remain in the “secure” side of the airport that is for screened and ticketed passengers until its time for your flight. Public areas of the airport are very vulnerable and as aviation and airport security increases there is likely t be a target shift to softer, easier access areas of the airport. This was evidenced in the recent bombing at the baggage claim area in Domodedovo Airport in Moscow.
- When boarding the aircraft immediately locate the exists closest to you and determine the number of seats between you and the exit to ensure you can find it in periods of reduced visibility.
- Assess your fellow passengers as they board and identify persons who might be a potential problem. This does not only mean potential terrorist concerns. Intoxicated passengers and air rage incidents are far more common.
- Consider keeping valuables with you or in a bag under the seat in front of you as there have been issues with theft from bags in overhead bins, especially on long haul flights.
You may also want to place bags in the overhead bin opposite and forward of your seat to be able to observe them better.