Odds of Airborne Terror (Gizmodo)

3 Jan 10 8 Comments

FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right: The Odds of Airborne Terror has done some interesting research:

Over the past decade, there have been, by my count, six attempted terrorist incidents on board a commercial airliner than landed in or departed from the United States: the four planes that were hijacked on 9/11, the shoe bomber incident in December 2001, and the NWA flight 253 incident on Christmas.

Leading to this detailed Gizmodo image of the data:


More surprisingly, both FiveThirtyEight and Gizmodo have managed to maintain sensible discussion within the comments (for the most part). One worrying aspect of the conversation from my point of view is how many people have stated that they avoid flying whenever possible – not due to fear of terrorism but to avoid the queues and hassle of going through security checks.

I’ve posted that when I’m travelling between Malaga and London, the 7-hour flight in the Saratoga is less stressful than flying commercially and with delays being common, it often takes the same amount of time or less. I used to joke that I’d prefer flying British Airways so that I could drink a gin and tonic but these days I’d rather have the option of leaving my shoes and belt on in public. It just seems as if the terrorists are managing to disrupt so many lives all over the world – isn’t the situation somewhat of a Pyrrhic victory on our part?

Anyway – head on over for more detail: The True Odds of Airborne Terror Chart – Odds of Airborne Attacks – Gizmodo with stats from FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right: The Odds of Airborne Terror.

(via The Wings Stayed On!)

Category: Miscellaneous,


  • 1 : 10,408,947 are pretty good odds.

    Going through security at the airport is a pain, even as a uniformed flight crewmember, but it’s not that bad. I generally avoid airlining it from point to point simply because I don’t want to deal with airline schedules, connecting flights, and the endless array of flight delays.

    When possible, I drive. If I can, I’ll fly myself. And if I had the big money, I would charter.

    It’s not a question of security, but convenience.

  • To be honest, I’m probably heavily biased because all of my travel is international. I’ve also learned that flying into the US on a flight booked on a non-US credit card got me pulled over into every special security check that existed.

    How long in advance do you have to check in for domestic flights in the US now? That’s where the big time hit has come in.

    I will say that UK customs have recently become a lot more polite which helps!

  • I have no idea. As crew, I run on my own schedule when I’m non-revving or jumpseating from point to point. But I do like the be at the gate no later than 30 minutes before pushback.

  • Last week I took a commercial flight within the US. I went through security at one end with just my UK driving licence and a credit card (I remember the days when you didn’t even need that for a US flight) but coming back on the return journey – with no security line and about ten inspectors present – they told me that a non-US/Canadian driving licence was no good. Eeek. Should have brought my passport. When they asked me if I had any other ID, I was very very reluctant to show them my pilots licence. I thought that might not help my case at all. But they didn’t like my credit cards and the only other ID I had was a library card so I offered up the pilot’s licence expecting to be offered a one-way flight to Guantanamo. But no, it was like the old American Express adverts: ‘that will do nicely sir.’ Looking back, I suppose that a valid licence shows that you’ve been checked (at least if you are foreign with a US licence) by the FAA, CAA, TSA, DHS, your local embassy and who knows who else. Perhaps next time I should probably go through the crew lane! :)

  • I know someone who was quizzed for having his license to the extent that he pointed out a PPL wasn’t going to help him hijack the plane. I loved the thought of a terrorist making sure to carry a license to show he was qualified. :)

    To be fair, this was directly after 9/11 and the Florida school was under fire, so his timing was bad.

    Why do you have a US license?

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