To determine which airlines are the most dangerous, we can look at accidents per year as well as fatalities per year.

We discovered that Air France and American Airlines are the most dangerous airlines, as they have been involved in the most plane crashes worldwide with 11 each, though popular US carriers, including United and Southwest have also had their fair share of accidents.

When it comes to fatalities, American Airlines has one of the worst records with 858 fatalities, along with China Airlines at 760 fatalities, and Malaysia Airlines at 537 fatalities, though this metric doesn’t always tell the full story.

For convenience, we have not only separated airlines by crashes and fatalities, but also by worldwide and USA.

* All data has been sourced from

Most Dangerous Airlines Worldwide

Accidents By Airline

  1. Air France: 11 accidents
  2. American Airlines: 11 accidents
  3. China Airlines: 9 accidents
  4. Korean Air: 9 accidents
  5. Pakistan International Airlines: 8 accidents
  6. United Airlines: 7 accidents
  7. Egyptair: 6 accidents
  8. Ethiopian Airlines: 6 accidents
  9. Thai Airways: 6 accidents
  10. VASP: 6 accidents
  11. American Eagle: 5 accidents
  12. Continental Airlines: 5 accidents
  13. Lufthansa: 5 accidents
  14. Asiana Airlines: 4 accidents
  15. Garuda: 4 accidents
  16. Iran Air: 4 accidents
  17. Kuwait Airways: 4 accidents
  18. Libyan Arab Airlines: 4 accidents
  19. Southwest Airlines: 3 accidents

*Only airlines that have had 4 or more plane accidents have been included.

Air France 447 crash wreckage
Wreckage from the Air France 447 crash

While you might think that the more popular the airline, the more likely the odds of it crashing, this isn’t necessarily the case.

For example, despite their popularity, British Airways has only ever been involved in one plane crash whereas Qantas has never crashed.

If you live in the USA, you can see that some of the most popular airlines feature on this list, including Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and United Airlines, while others don’t.

Related: How Often Do Planes Crash?

Fatalities By Airline

  1. American Airlines: 858 fatalities
  2. China Airlines: 760 fatalities
  3. Korean Air: 586 fatalities
  4. Air India: 542 fatalities
  5. Japan Airlines: 520 fatalities
  6. Malaysia Airlines: 537 fatalities
  7. Ethiopian Airlines: 407 fatalities
  8. Egyptair: 362 fatalities
  9. Air France: 347 fatalities
  10. Saudia: 312 fatalities
  11. Pakistan International Airlines: 311 fatalities
  12. Iran Air: 293 fatalities
  13. United Airlines: 288 fatalities
  14. Kenya Airways: 283 fatalities
  15. Garuda: 259 fatalities
  16. Gulf Air: 255 fatalities
  17. KLM: 248 fatalities
  18. Swissair: 229 fatalities
  19. Lion Airlines: 189 fatalities
  20. Birgenair: 186 fatalities
  21. Avianca: 181 fatalities
  22. Air India Express: 179 fatalities
  23. China Southern Airlines: 176 fatalities
  24. Ukraine International Airlines: 176 fatalities
  25. Indonesia AirAsia: 162 fatalities
  26. South African Airways: 159 fatalities
  27. Dana Air: 153 fatalities
  28. AirBlue: 152 fatalities
  29. Yemenia: 152 fatalities
  30. Sudan Airways: 146 fatalities

*Only airlines that have experienced 150 or more fatalities have been included.

China Airlines Flight 140 wreckage
China Airlines Flight 140 wreckage

There isn’t necessarily a correlation between airline accidents and fatalities.

For example, Southwest Airlines has been involved in 3 plane crashes/accidents, though has only experienced 1 fatality.

Interestingly, KLM is the world’s oldest airline that has been in continuous airline, so its safety record is actually excellent despite appearing on the list. 

Most Dangerous Airlines in the USA

There have been no shortage of plane crashes by USA carriers, though some of the most popular airlines, including JetBlue and Spirit Airlines, have never been involved in a crash.

Accidents By Airline

  1. American Airlines: 11 accidents
  2. United Airlines: 7 accidents
  3. Southwest Airlines: 3 accidents
  4. Delta Air Lines: 2 accidents
  5. Alaska Airlines: 1 accident
  6. Horizon Air: 1 accident
An American Airlines plane in the aftermath of a plane crash
An American Airlines plane in the aftermath of a plane crash

Fatalities By Airline

  1. American Airlines: 858 fatalities
  2. United Airlines: 288 fatalities
  3. Delta Air Lines: 134 fatalities
  4. Alaska Airlines: 88 fatalities
  5. Horizon Air: 1 fatality
  6. Southwest Airlines: 1 fatality

Airlines That Have Never Crashed

Airlines that have never had a fatal crash include:

  1. Aegean Airlines
  2. easyJet
  3. Emirates
  4. Etihad Airways
  5. Hawaiian Airlines
  6. JetBlue
  7. Norwegian
  8. Qatar Airways
  9. Qantas Airways
  10. Ryanair
  11. Southwest Airlines
  12. Spirit Airlines
  13. Sun Country Airlines
  14. Virgin Atlantic
  15. Volaris
  16. Wizz Air
Qantas Airways Plane in blue skies
Qantas Airways has never had a crash

The Chance of a Plane Crashing is Exceptionally Low

The chances of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 9,821, though this accounts for both general aviation and commercial aviation.

If strictly taking about commercial aviation, the chances of a plane crashing and involving fatalities is exceptionally low.

According to Arnold Barnett, who is an expert in the field of aviation safety and risk and Professor of Statistics at MIT, “if you take one flight a day, you would on average need to fly every day for 55,000 years before being involved in a fatal crash.”

5 Safest Airlines

There can be several ways to determine which airlines are the safest in the world, including the carriers with the lowest number of total accidents and fatalities.

This, however, wouldn’t necessarily tell the full story, considering some airlines carry many more passengers than others. In fact, while there are thousands of airlines, only approximately 230 airlines carry 99% of the world’s passengers.

Therefore, to determine which airlines are the safest, we have referred to, which “takes into account a number of different factors related to audits from aviation’s governing bodies, lead associations as well as the airlines own safety data” to determine a rating.

More specifically, for 2023’s rating, “crashes over 5 years, serious incidents over two years, audits from aviation’s governing bodies and lead associations; government audits, fleet age, and COVID protocols” were all used in to compile the list.


  1. Air New Zealand
  2. Etihad Airways
  3. Qatar Airways
  4.  Singapore Airlines
  5. TAP Air Portugal
Air New Zealand 747-400 Plane
Air New Zealand is one of the safest airlines in the world


No USA airline made the top 5 list of the safest airlines, though Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines all made the top 20 (in order of placement).

See Also: A Complete Guide to Airline Operations

How Airlines With Poor Safety Records Have Improved

Safety measures and improvements are paramount in the aviation industry, and airlines with poor safety records often take significant steps to enhance their safety standards.

  • Advanced Maintenance Procedures: Airlines with a history of safety issues tend to invest heavily in aircraft maintenance. They implement more rigorous and frequent maintenance checks, including thorough inspections of aircraft systems, engines, and avionics.
  • Fleet Modernization: Older aircraft may have more safety-related issues, so airlines often retire older planes and invest in newer, more advanced models with enhanced safety features.
  • Safety Culture: Improving safety requires fostering a culture of safety throughout the entire airline. So an airline might encourage employees at all levels to report safety concerns without fear of retribution. Safety initiatives may then be introduced, such as safety awareness programs, reporting systems, and channels for open communication.
  • Safety Audits and Assessments: Airlines often undergo safety audits that are conducted by independent organizations or aviation authorities. These have the goal of evaluating how well an airline is sticking to safety regulations, standards, and best practices.

Are Airlines That Use Certain Aircraft Likely to Be Involved in More Crashes?

On the surface, if we look at just the numbers, the most dangerous plane is the Boeing 737 with 149 accidents and 4,360 fatalities.

Additionally, the Boeing 747 has been involved in 49 accidents and 3,713 fatalities, and the Airbus A300 has been involved in 33 accidents with 1,416 fatalities.

Boeing 737 Delta plane
The Boeing 737 has been involved in the most crashes and fatalities

As you can see from the data, there is a very high correlation between the type of aircraft involved in a plane crash and the number of fatalities.

However, as over 10,000 Boeing 737s have been produced compared to 1,569 Boeing 747s and 561 Airbus A300s, this explains why the Boeing 737 has been involved in the highest number of plane crashes and deaths.

When looking at the data in this way, you can argue that the Boeing 737 is one of the safer commercial airliners, despite being the plane that has crashed most often in the history of commercial aviation. 

In other words, there is no correlation between the model of aircraft an airline uses and its likelihood to crash.

To further illustrate this, Southwest is the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 737, yet has only been involved in 3 plane crashes, and has only experienced 1 fatality.

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).