Surprisingly the majority of fliers survive an airline accident. The Wall Street Journal reported:
Broadly speaking, the numbers are compelling. From 1983 to 2000, the National Transportation Safety Board investigated 26 major commercial accidents involving 2,739 people. A total of 1,525 survived, or 56%.
Here are some safety tips for air travelers:
Count how many rows there are between you ad emergency exits, both in front of you and behind you. The counting helps in case smoke or darkness makes it tough to see clearly. Use the "crash" position and brace for impact. Coach seating these days doesn't give most of us enough room to get our head between our knees. But an alternative is to put your head in your hands and lean against the set in front of you. It works. You will be hitting the seat in front of you whether you want to or not. Leave your luggage. As absurd as it sounds, fire-truck videos of real-life emergency evacuations show passangers going down slides clutching belongings-even when the plane is on fire. Smoke can fill a plane in seconds; spend that time getting out, not getting your carry-ons. No laptop computer is worth dying for. Stay low and breath slowly. Hunched over works best if you can (if you crawl, you might get trampled). And know that breathing aircraft-fire smoke is going to hurt; the slower you breath, the better. Get through exits quickly, but one at a time. Doors are small, particularly the exits over the wings; they can easily become clogged with bodies, with deadly consequences. Don't worry about taking your shoes off. That's no longer necessary since the plastic used in evacuation slides is tougher and can resist rips better these days.
The Surprising Odds of Surviving a Crash [Wall Street Journal, Feb. 15, 2005]