Some of the best storytellers are foreign correspondents, who travel to all corners of the globe in often dicey circumstances. One of them, Michael J. Totten, posted an article on his blog earlier this year called, "The Worst Airline Company in the World" and it was all about a well-known European carrier that among other things, took a month to return a checked bag -- covered in mold.
So what's a flier to do? Well, I would check the various lists and safety records of airlines (see the links above) -- and keeping up with the news doesn't hurt. But again, bad things can happen anytime, anywhere -- just as good things can (it's called, life) and all you can do is be as prepared as humanly possible.
What should you do when flying? Here are some tips:
Watch Your Alcohol Consumption: The more alert you are, the better you'll be able to respond to any emergency.
Keep Your Seatbelt On: Turbulence and other problems can come out of nowhere. Keep the belt on, even if the "buckle-up" sign is dark.
Keep Quiet and Listen: The crew may give important directions -- if you can't hear them, you won't know what to do.
Stay Calm: Easier said than done, I know, but keep it together to make an orderly exit from the plane if so directed -- panic slows everyone down.
Leave It All Behind: Anything you brought on board can be replaced, with the exception of yourself -- if you take the time to fumble for that laptop or grab that purse, you may lose everything.
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site FareCompare.com offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.