Most accidents happen within the first three minutes of takeoff or in the eight minutes before landing, according to Ben Sherwood, author of "The Survivors Club -- The Secrets and Science That could Save Your Life" and president of ABC News.
Sherwood said 80 percent of all plane crashes occur during these 11 in-flight minutes. Instead of picking up a magazine or taking your shoes off, it's important to remain alert.
Sherwood advised to have a plan of action in the case of an unexpected crisis.
"If a plane crashes it's very likely that I'm going to survive it, and if I do the right thing, if I pay attention, if I have a plan, if I act, the chances are even better," Sherwood said.
But passengers should remember that not all flights are bound for peril.
The aviation industry has taken strides to protect passengers in emergency situations. Stronger seats, improved flame retardant plane parts and better firefighting techniques following a crash have contributed to increasing the time for passengers to make a safe escape.
"Riding on a commercial airplane has got about the same amount of risk as riding on an escalator," MIT International Center for Air Transportation Director John Hansman Jr. told ABC News.