When you think about it logically, telling a friend or loved one to “Have a safe flight” is pretty weird. Historically it makes sense. Back then flying at all was something that few people really grasped the concept of, so telling someone to have a safe flight became a thing and it has stuck.

In the modern world, however, certain individuals fly hundreds of times a year. That is especially true for people who know how to play the credit card game to get travel rewards or who fly for business.

It is time to make “Have a safe flight” redundant as a phrase. Here are 10 reasons why that is the case

1. Flying is safe

The main reason that telling people to have a safe flight makes no sense is because flying is one of the safest modes of transportation out there. The easiest way to quantify this is by looking at the data.

We are using data from 2019 because that was the last year before Covid-19 and all the travel chaos and fewer flights that the pandemic caused.

In 2019 there were 226 air transportation accidents reported to the Canadian Transport Safety Board. That number includes accidents in Canada and accidents involving Canadian-registered aircraft in other countries. That number is down 12% from the 258 accident average from 2009 to 2018.

The 2019 overall Canadian air transportation accident rate was 3.7 per 100,000 hours flown. A number that low means that your travel insurance policy is much more likely to account for lost baggage than anything serious.

2. Crashing doesn’t mean death

It is a myth that all plane crashes are fatal. In 2019 there were 26 fatal accidents that involved Canadian-registered aircraft. That is an impressively low rate of 0.5 per 100,000 hours flown.

There were 54 fatalities from those accidents, a total equal to the rolling yearly average from 2009 to 2018. To put that into some type of context, there were 1,762 deaths in motor vehicle accidents in Canada in 2019.

Not to concentrate on the tragic, but there were 4,012 deaths by suicide. Some people still think that flying in an airplane is dangerous, but the statistics paint a different picture.

3. The best statistic of all

This statistic is sums up the safety of flying nicely. It is a study by Dr. Arnold Barnett of MIT between 1975 and 1994 in the field of commercial flight safety. His study of data in the USA suggests that during that period the death risk per flight was around one in seven million.

Put another way, if you flew every single day, statistically speaking, you won't die flying for 19,000 years. This makes you less likely to die on a commercial flight than by being stung by a bee.

Technology has advanced since the study was done in 1975. Given the improvements in tech and other elements of flight safety, it is yet another way of showing how safe flying actually is.

4. They aren’t in control unless they are the pilot

My favourite reason that the phrase is completely useless is that unless you are talking directly to the pilot. The pilot likely won't ask for your help in flying the plane at any point on the trip.

The screening and boarding process in Canadian airports is as thorough as it has ever been with layer-upon-layer of security to protect your flight. Having a safe flight essentially means sitting in your assigned seat quietly.

I guess making sure to put on your seatbelt when asked and not getting belligerent on the flight would count as being safe. Again, that is really a pretty low bar.

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5. Pilots are well trained

Getting a driver’s license is remarkably easy but the requirements vary across Canada. You must pass vision and rules-of-the-road tests. Plus, you have the practical training sessions behind the wheel.

This means that you are sharing the road at any point with a teenager with incredibly limited formal driving training. Still, they are driving a lethal weapon.

Getting a commercial pilot’s license, on the other hand, is incredibly difficult. This is not a career that you fall into on a whim as it is both expensive and a long process. Commercial pilots licenses require a minimum of 200 hours flight time in airplanes.

A commercial pilot’s license, however, is not enough for pilots wanting to fly as an airline pilot. For that, a person needs an Airline Transport Pilot License. An APTL requires a cool 1,500 hours total flight time with at least 900 in airplanes.

After 1,500 hours in the air, there is very little a pilot will have not seen happen which, again, makes flying safer. Flying is safe because of the training that those flying you have had to go through.

6. Dispatchers are well trained

Pilots and cabin crew members are well-trained. Flight dispatchers, those who help put together routes and timing schedules, are also intensively trained before being qualified to perform their jobs.

The path to becoming a dispatcher is simple. A candidate in Canada has to be fluent in English or French and at least 21 years old. Then, they have to do is pass the Transport Canada Flight Dispatch written exam.

However, the exam part is more difficult than it may sound. There are flight schools, community colleges, and even private universities that offer programs to prep for the test.

As a rule of thumb, various online guides say that anyone self-preparing for the exam should have 150 to 300 hours of study before even attempting to pass because of how difficult the test is.

7. Aviation technology is insane so you can “Have a Safe Flight”

Motor vehicles have seen drastic increases in technology over the last couple of decades. While a lot of that is navigation and entertainment systems, features like anti-lock breaks and traction control have greatly improved auto safety.

Cars, however, are no match for airplanes when it comes to using technology to keep their occupants safe. Airplanes monitor everything in the clouds, in the aircraft, and on the ground.

Think about autopilot. What about cabin oxygen systems and water evacuation slides? That is life saving technology.

Did you know, for example, that jet engines are designed so that if one cuts out, the plane can fly just fine? Even more wild is the fact that if all the engines die, the plane can still glide home and not fall out of the sky.

One famous example of this was in 2001 when an Air Transat flight cruised for 75 miles without power before touching down at Lajes Air Base. On your best day, can your car coast without fuel or engines power for 75 miles?

8. Airline authorities mean business

That black box that you generally only hear about after an aircraft accident is part of a suite of tools used by airline authorities to keep track of everything a pilot does during a flight. This data is then reviewed after the pilot ands the plane. Any irregularities result in action.

Equally stringent controls exist for air traffic controllers. Air traffic controllers and dispatchers are also monitored and reviewed regularly.

If this system were applied to cars then it is hard to see how anyone would be on the road after a few weeks. The number of speeding tickets, lane change violations, and other ticket-worthy events would be insane.

9. It is a great way to freak someone out

This reason is less factual and has more to do with being a people person. There are certain people who when told to “Have a safe flight” will panic.

The mind is a weird and wonderful thing, but there are plenty of anxious, over-thinkers out there who die a little inside every time they hear that phrase in the days leading up to their flight. The first part of a vacation can be super stressful, so try not to add to it with a poor choice of words.

Instead, try something like “Have a great trip” or “Enjoy your flight”. The differences are subtle but very important.

10. Fear of flying is about risk perception

As we have discussed above, flying is an incredibly safe form of transport. Booking a flight at the best price, getting travel insurance, and packing are the real challenges.

The problem flying has is all about its perception. The news and scripted drama series do not help to calm people. Thanks for nothing, Grey's Anatomy.

Fatal car crashes happen daily in every province and territory. They make the local news when its a high number or a celebrity. A plane crash, on the other hand, is major news.

Turbulence is another risk perception disaster. We have zero control over what is happening and because it feels like you are dropping out of the sky. This is even though mild turbulence is something that your pilot will have dealt with literally thousands of times during his career.

Think of something better to say

This list should serve as proof that “Have a nice flight” is a redundant phrase in the 2020s. Next time someone you know is going to take a trip on a plane, just tell them to bring you back a souvenir from their trip instead!

Or maybe what you really mean is ‘I love you.' The best thing to do is say what you really mean.