Design + Architecture

Future of Air Travel

by Terry Ward

Airplane Safety

What's happening: Seatbelts double up on safety.

The facts: The airline industry has an impressive safety record: Your chances of dying in a plane crash on an American carrier are around one in 13 million. And according to the National Transportation Safety Board, most commercial airline crashes are survivable. If that doesn't make you feel safer, perhaps the rise of seatbelt airbags will. "Seatbelt airbags are designed to keep passengers conscious during the critical 90 seconds immediately following [a crash]," says Joe Smith, a vice president of AmSafe, which manufactures seatbelt airbags for commercial aviation. The airbag deploys from the buckle of your seatbelt outward, protecting your head from hitting the seat in front of you or the bulkhead. Virgin Atlantic was the first commercial airline to install them back in 2001, and other carriers have followed suit. So don't be alarmed if there's a little extra padding in your seatbelt next time you buckle up on a flight—it may just save your life.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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