Here I Go Again – Me And My Butterflies

by Frieda Flyer on October 29, 2010

in Commercial Air Travel

Next month I will be joining my family for Thanksgiving.  This is my favorite holiday and being with those I love is so exciting and very important to me… so, why am I beginning to feel the familiar butterflies forming in my stomach?  Why am I focusing more on the journey than the happy times to come?

The answer: I am going to fly on a commercial airline!

I’m about to embark on an adventure which is uncertain and one over which I have no control and every bad airline incident I’ve ever read about is passing through my head. The uncertainty comes in not knowing if all’s well with the aircraft I’ll be strapped into for several hours with no preferred means of escape, with the pilot who has my life in his hands for those hours, with the air traffic controllers who hopefully guide this plane safely during the flight, or if the runways are clear for my plane’s take off and landing, among many other things that fly in on the wings of the butterflies in my stomach.  The having no control part – well, that’s another whole story! 

In the weeks I have left with my feet planted firmly on the ground, I’m reminding myself that I have been told airline travel is the safest mode of travel on earth and that no other form of transportation is watched as closely as commercial aviation.  However, once the plane is airborne it’s no longer “on earth” – is it?  I think nothing of jumping in my car and enjoying the freedom of the open road, yet traveling by car is 22 times more dangerous than flying in a plane according to a US National Safety Council study – but don’t I have less things out of my control when I’m in my own car?

Dr. Arnold Barnett of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied commercial aviation flight safety from 1975-1994 and found the death risk per flight was one in seven million – 7 million!  But there was that 1 death risk, you know, and only 1 in 5 million planes will crash – again, there’s that pesky little number 1 – only 1 will crash – well, what if my plane is that ONE?

I will keep reminding myself the odds are on my side (so I am told) that I will enjoy that wonderful turkey dinner with my family without incident – from the airline, at least. I will remind myself that – even though we have a long way to go – airline safety has improved dramatically in the last few years – knowing, sadly, some of these improvements have indeed come from lessons learned from tragic airline accidents.  I know we can never wipe out every possible cause for an airliner to crash – what we can do, however, is to keep up the pressure on those involved in all aspects of the airline industry to keep improving, to keep making airline travel safer – to give us their very best – our lives are in their hands.

I will get on that plane next month – butterflies and all – and look forward to a wonderful vacation with my family with a few prayers added for safe measure.

Is there an additional airline fee for carrying butterflies on board?

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