Coming & Going: Major airline safety improves in 2010

Sunday, February 27, 2011; F02

Coming & Going

Better airline safety, more Megabus service, a busier BWI

Airline travel gets safer

Last year marked the safest year ever for major airlines, with the lowest accident rate for Western-built jets in aviation history.

There was one accident for every 1.6 million flights, an improvement over the one per 1.4 million flights recorded in 2009, according to the International Air Transport Association. The lowest previous accident rate was in 2006.

Perhaps most interestingly, the accident rate is down 42 percent from the rate recorded 10 years ago.

The IATA, a trade group representing 230 airlines, reported that 2.4 billion people flew safely on 36.8 million flights last year. There were 17 hull loss accidents - in which the aircraft is destroyed or damaged beyond repair - involving Western-built jets, compared with 19 the previous year.

There were more accidents among both Eastern- and Western-built jets: 94 in 2010 compared with 90 the previous year. Twenty-three of those were fatal, up from 18 in 2009. And there were 786 fatalities, compared with 685 in 2009.

There were also regional differences in the accident rates for Western-built jets. North America, Europe, North Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (former Soviet republics) had the best rates. Africa had the worst.

Runway excursions, when an aircraft goes off the runway during takeoff or landing, were the most common cause of accidents, accounting for 21 percent of all accidents in 2010.

The bus is now boarding

Megabus is tweaking servi ce from Washington to two fair cities.

The low-fare bus company is adding five daily trips Thursday through Monday on its Philadelphia route, bringing the total number to 13. Service starts March 31. On the New York route, travelers can go express on as many as 10 daily trips Friday through Sunday. (The bus typically stops in White Marsh, outside Baltimore.) Nonstop service starts April 1. Info:

And over at BoltBus . . . starting tomorrow, the bus will pick up and drop off on the corner of F Street and New Jersey Avenue NW instead of the parking lot at H and 10th streets. The new location, one block from Union Station, is temporary due to construction at the old spot; service should resume from there once construction is complete.

Banking on culture

On the first full weekend of every month, Bank of America customers can skip museum admissions with a wave of their cards. More than 150 cultural institutions in 87 cities in 29 states are participating in the program.

The top-tier venues include the Museum of Photographic Art in San Diego, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, the Dallas Museum of Art and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, which typically charges $20. Info:

Sleeping for a cause

At Gaylord Hotels, change the world (an itty bit) while you sleep. With the company's new program, Rooms for Good, 10 percent of the package rate goes toward a different charity each month. The program kicks off in March with Autism Speaks. Nightly rates are from $179 per couple, plus taxes and resort fee, and include breakfast. All four properties - Gaylord Opryland in Nashville; Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Fla.; Gaylord Texan on Lake Grapevine near Dallas; and Gaylord National in National Harbor - are participating. Prices vary per resort. Info:

Maryland draws them in

Travelers flocked to BWI Marshall in record numbers in 2010.

Last year, 21.9 million passengers flew through the airport, a 4.7 percent increase over 2009 and an all-time record. The previous annual traffic record had been set in 2007.

Southwest could probably take much of the credit for the uptick; it served 53.5 percent of the passengers. The airport's leading carrier had more than 11.7 million passengers in 2010, a 7.4 percent increase over 2009, thanks in part to new flights to Los Angeles; Panama City, Fla.; Seattle and other cities.

AirTran, the second-largest carrier, served nearly 3.6 million passengers, an increase of 7.4 percent over 2009, taking 16.2 percent of the airport's total passengers. New destinations such as Montego Bay, Jamaica; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Huntsville, Ala., helped.

Both airlines plan to increase service from BWI this year. In March, Southwest will introduce service to Charleston and Greenville/Spartanburg in South Carolina. Service to Newark will begin in June. Southwest plans to provide 195 daily departures from BWI over the peak summer months, up from 182 last year and the most the airline has ever offered.

AirTran plans to inaugurate seasonal service to Bermuda in April. In May, seasonal service to San Francisco will begin.

Andrea Sachs, Nancy Trejos

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