How September 11 Impacted Flight Travel

Flight phobia has long been a topic in the psychological and psychiatric literature, as well as in economic research. The former literature is mainly concerned with mode of travel choices after the September 11 attacks. Respondents to what extent they felt safe on planes and the number of high-risk incidents on airplanes in which they had been involved.[11]

Captain Michael (Miki) Katz, whose experience with helping nervous and claustrophobic flyers have brought him to also assume relations between fear of flying and September 11 attacks. Those who have the condition are either so paralyzed they stop flying entirely, and some continue flying but suffer intensely on each flight.[12] In contrast, Katz said that “in countries such as in Israel as an example, where the public is much more experienced in dealing with security threats, there is no significant increase in the number of people who are afraid to fly, but the ones who were anxious to begin with have become more afraid.”[12]

Immediately after the September 11 attacks, Americans took to the nation’s highways, a decision that many experts on risks said could be a fatal error. U.S. Department of Transportation data for the last three months of 2001 showed a significant increase in the number of fatal road accidents versus the same period in the year before the attacks. Because of the extra traffic, 353 more people died in traffic accidents, calculates Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, an expert on how people respond to low-probability but high-consequence events called “dread risks.”[13] Research [14] by Michael Sivak and Michael Flannagan showed that driving 10.8 miles on an Interstate highway exposes the motorist to same risk of fatality as taking a domestic flight.

They based their findings by comparing the statistics for 10 major U.S. airlines for a 10-year period from 1992 through 2001. Airline safety has increased dramatically since that time. Based on more recent performance by U. S. airlines, the risk of taking a flight would be approximately the same as driving merely 3 miles. Since most of the risk is during takeoff and landing, Sivak and Flannagan regarded the length of the flight as relatively insignificant.