By Lawani Mikairu & Daniel Eteghe, with Agency reports

The first 11 months of 2011 were the safest period for commercial air travel on record. The global accident rate for January through November was 22 per cent better than the same time last year and marked the safest period since a United Nations aviation agency began collecting data in 1945, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an airline trade group that issued a report based on the U.N. data.

Globally, there were 486 passenger and crew fatalities in the first 11 months of the year, down from 784 fatalities in the same period last year, according to the trade group. In the first 11 months of 2011, the accident rate was 2.16 per million passenger takeoffs, down from 2.78 per million in the same period last year.

The most common accidents this year were “runway excursions,” which occur when airplanes veer off or overrun the runway. Such incidents represented 23 per cent of all accidents in that period, according to the report. Business travellers rank Houston last.

Imagine a business trip that starts with a delayed flight to Houston. On the flight you must sit in the middle seat next to a sick passenger or perhaps a crying baby. When you check into your hotel, your bed is a mess of bedbugs and dirty linen.

This horrific scenario emerged from an online survey of 3,756 business travellers who were asked to choose their least favourite city to visit and cite the top reasons they hate to travel.

But the source of the survey data might be biased on the subject. ON24, a San Francisco provider of virtual meetings and webcasting technology, conducted the survey to promote online meetings over face-to-face business trips. When asked about their least favourite cities to visit for a convention or trade show, 49 per cent of survey respondents picked Houston, and 42 per cent chose Los Angeles.

Asked to list their top travel gripe, 53 per cent of respondents chose sitting in an airplane middle seat, 51 per cent said having their flight delayed and 43 per cent chose getting stuck next to a sick passenger or a baby.




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