At any given time, about 500,000 people are flying somewhere in the world. The TSA screens around 2 million passengers a day, and there are estimated to be 30,000 to 40,000 commercial aircraft in active service. This means that a lot of folks go a lot of places in airplanes. While commercial air transportation remains one of the safest ways to travel, when things go wrong, they typically do so in spectacular fashion.

When people think of mishaps involving planes, they immediately think of crashes. Statistically speaking, the dangerous part is driving to the airport. Realistically, you could encounter the same dangers in the terminal and on the plane that you would just walking down the street—physical threats or attacks along with the potential for illness or infection. Being prepared for a plane to go down is just the beginning of air travel survival.

Onboard Security

The authorities won’t let you carry much when you fly, but that doesn’t mean you have to be helpless. As with most things, a little forethought and planning before your next flight can make a big difference if and when life goes sideways.

First, you need proper footwear. Flip flops are great for getting through security but fairly worthless in a world characterized by jagged metal and flammable materials. I always fly in a nicely broken-in pair of combat boots. Speed laces mean I can get into and out of them as quickly as I might a pair of gym sneakers for the TSA screening area. Side zippers make them even faster to take off. Discipline yourself to keep them on while flying. They won’t do you much good stuffed underneath the seat ahead of you.

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