Jan. 13--Grouse all you want about shrinking airline seats and annoying fees for onboard food, drinks and entertainment, but the industry's safety record is looking up.
The world's airlines had one of their safest years on record in 2013. There were 29 airline accidents last year, which, combined, resulted in a record-low 265 fatalities, according to the Aviation Safety Network, a private research group in the Netherlands. That's out of about 31 million commercial flights worldwide.
The world's airlines had a pretty safe year in 2012 as well, with 475 fatalities from 23 airline accidents, including passenger and cargo flights, the research group said.
The last two years represented a dramatic drop from the 10-year average of 720 fatalities a year.
The deadliest accident in 2013 took place in Kazan, Russia, on Nov. 17 when a Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737 crashed on approach, killing 50 people.
Closer to home, an Asiana Airlines plane crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, killing three people. It was carrying more than 300 passengers and crew members.
Harro Ranter, president of the research group, attributes the improved safety record to the efforts of international aviation groups to impose safety guidelines on airlines around the world.
If you still harbor a fear of flying, you might be comforted to hear about Qantas, the Australian airline that recently was rated as the world's safest by AirlineRatings.com. The airline hasn't had a fatal accident since 1951.
"Safety is our No. 1 priority, and our teams work around the clock to ensure the safety of our passengers and our crew," a Qantas spokesperson said.
AirlineRatings.com gave its lowest safety ratings to Kam Air in Afghanistan, SCAT Airlines in Kazakhstan and Blue Wing Airlines in Suriname, a tiny country in South America.
Have gun -- won't travel.
Last year, Transportation Security Administration officers uncovered 1,828 firearms at airports nationwide, a 20% increase from 2012, according to a study by Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
The tally represents the fifth year in a row that the number of guns confiscated by the TSA has increased.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport -- the world's busiest airport -- had the greatest number of uncovered guns, 110, according to the study. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport came in second with 98 guns, and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston came in third with 76.
A vast majority of the confiscated guns -- 84% -- were loaded when TSA officials found them, the study said.
Americans vent about notion of cellphone calls on planes
The Federal Communications Commission has yet to formally open a public comment period on a plan to lift a ban on cellphone calls on commercial planes.
But that hasn't stopped Americans from venting to the FCC about the idea. Based on a sample of the nearly 400 comments submitted since mid-December, the public is staunchly opposed.
The 30-day comment period is expected to begin once the FCC publishes the proposed rule in the Federal Register. In the meantime, FCC officials said they would accept the comments already added at http://www.fcc.gov/rulemaking/13-157.
Many of the comments are tinged with anger, with opponents saying cellphone calls on planes would incite "air rage."
"You want to see blood in the aisles, just go ahead and allow cellphone voice communications on aircraft," one comment said.
Another person wrote: "There are many dumb ideas and then there is this."