How to tell if your airline is safe?

PHOTO: Pixabay

Air travel is becoming increasingly common these days, as we see the addition of more new airlines and travel destinations. Life on the little red dot can get stressful at times, so it is not surprising we yearn to recharge with a quick getaway abroad. But how do you decide which airline to take given the slew of promotional airfares? Price is not the sole factor travellers consider when deciding which flight to book. There are many other things to consider such as its flight time, aircraft configuration, and most importantly, its safety record.

Given the two high profile Boeing 737 aviation disasters happening less than six months apart, it's inevitable that travellers become edgy about flying. Do you wish to fly only on the safest airlines? Put your mind at ease with these useful guidelines before you book that flight.

Tips to Pick an Airline That Meets The Safety Standards
  • Check the aircraft age and type.
  • Confirm if the airline isn't on the EU's "blacklist".
  • Check the airline's score on ICAO.
  • See if the airline is with one of the big alliances.


Photo: Wikimedia Commons

If you have ever wondered about how safe the airline you are about to board is, you should really check out Founded by a team of aviation editors, the information-packed website delivers expert safety ratings for over 435 airlines around the world. While no rating system is flawless, serves as a helpful guide before you book that flight. Its seven-star safety assessment takes into account the following criteria:

Is the airline IATA (International Air Transport Association) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certified?

Is the airline on the European Union (EU) Blacklist?

Has the airline maintained a fatality free record for the past decade?

Is the airline endorsed by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)?

Does the country of airline origin meet International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)'s safety parameters?

Has the airline's fleet been grounded by the country's governing aviation safety authority due to safety concerns?

Does the airline operate only aircraft built in the former Soviet Union and designed up to 1990?

For the first time, Singapore Airlines (SQ) is the proud recipient of the "Airline of the Year" award in 2019. Besides scoring high for safety, it also stands out because of its new aircraft, innovative flights and in-flight excellence. Other top airlines include familiar names such as Air New Zealand, Qantas and Emirates.


Photo: Blair Fraser, Unsplash

The International Air Transport Association's Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) is the benchmark for airline safety management globally. The safety audit checks airlines to ensure they meet international operational safety requirements and looks at an airline's safety across areas including flight operations, ground handling, security management, and maintenance. Each year, IATA performs more than 150 audits around the world. An IOSA-compliant airline must renew this status every two years. Airlines that have passed the audit are reported to have a much lower all-accident rate than those who do not attain this status.

Check the IOSA Registry here.


Photo: G B_NZ, Flickr

Besides checking the IOSA Registry, it is also worthwhile to take a look at the EU Air Safety List. There are two annexes to the list, one for all airlines banned from operating in Europe, and the other for airlines restricted from operating under certain conditions in Europe. Both are updated regularly with the latest update on 16 April 2019.

As a general rule, if the EU believes that a particular country does not comply with a certain safety standard, it will ban all carriers from that country. On the other hand, some countries only have specific airlines banned, such as the Republic of Gabon and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Download the full list of banned airlines in the EU here.


Frequent travellers should be familiar with airline alliances such as Star Alliance for its frequent flyer benefits and privileges. However, airline alliances are more than just for accrual of miles for membership rewards. Currently, there are three major airline alliances in the world, namely Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam. All of them requires their connecting partners to maintain the IOSA audit, which means you can feel more assured of the safety standards of their member airlines.

Do your research before deciding which carrier to fly with, just for peace of mind. Despite the recent high profile accidents, air travel remains incredibly safe. In fact, statistics have shown that flying is way safer than driving. Thus, do consider the carrier's country of operation and safety audit results to provide some guidance on the safety of the airline you choose.

This article was first published in Shopback.