How To Make Sure A Budget Or Foreign Airline Is Safe

How To Make Sure A Budget Or Foreign Airline Is Safe
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Budget airlines are a decent option for cheap travel, but they’re also known to be uncomfortable, they nickel and dime you for every little thing, and now, people are questioning the overall safety of these low-cost flights. These four tips will help you pick a budget or foreign airline that meets all the right safety standards.

Look, flying is pretty darn safe. The odds of you being involved in an incident are incredibly small, and the odds of you dying in said event are even smaller. But when the US version of 60 Minutes pointed out that the budget airline Allegiant had more than 100 major mechanical issues over two years (none fatal), it raised the question: “How safe are these budget airlines, really?” Well, if they meet certain safety regulations, they’re basically just as safe as any other airline. The trick is finding out which airline is doing things right. Travel writer Rosie Spinks at Quartz has a few recommendations:

  1. Check the aircraft type and age: Newer planes are going to be safer, and pilots will have been freshly trained on how to fly them safely upon delivery. Be wary of airlines and flights with older aeroplane models — like MD-80s, DC-9-40s, DC-10s, EMB-120s, and 737-200s — especially if you do a little research and find out they were purchased second-hand from foreign carriers.
  2. Check the European Union’s “blacklist”: This searchable list contains all of the airlines that are not allowed to operate in Europe. If it’s not allowed to operate there, it’s probably best avoided elsewhere.
  3. Check the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) scores: This organisation audits aviation authorities all over the world, then give them a score from one to 10. Carriers with a high score are held accountable to safety standards, and carriers with lower scores may not be.
  4. See if they’re allied with another airline: Any smaller airline, be it a U.S.-based budget carrier or a foreign entity, that’s partnered with a larger American carrier is probably going to be ok. They have to submit to an FAA safety review.

Keep in mind, many budget and foreign airlines are perfectly safe — or at least as safe as larger carriers. But if you want some peace of mind, checking these four things should give you a better idea about how safe an airline really is. You can find some more good info and tips at the link below.

How Do You Know a Budget Airline Is Safe to Fly? [Quartz]


  • There are far too many variables for the ordinary person to assess when it comes to safety, and the ones listed above may well exclude perfectly safe planes & pilots.

    Just because a plane is older doesn’t mean it is not as safe as a newer one. Aircraft maintenance is very complex, and all planes take off with up to a certain number of known defects which are allowed by the local regulator. Any one of the known, and of course the unknown, defects can become a problem during a flight, so there is no guarantee. With airlines competing heavily on cost, maintenance can be cut back to the absolute minimum consistent with regulations, and end up compromising safety. These are things that the ordinary traveller can’t easily check.

    Equally, there are other non-aircraft factors that can make a huge difference, in particular the pilots and cabin crew. Pilot error is one of the major causes behind most crashes, and it can occur in any type of plane regardless of age.

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