The Brancatelli File By Joe Brancatelli
No-Fly Zones: Don't Fly in These Countries
January 29, 1994 -- Travelers take comfort in the old axiom that suggests you are safer flying in a commercial airplane than driving your own car.

Unfortunately, there are some countries where a domestic flight is an unacceptable risk. Within the borders of these nations, even devil-may-care adventurers should book passage on a bus or a train.

Here's a list of places that travelers would be wise to consider no-fly zones.

Mainland China In an effort to extend air travel to the masses, the Chinese government has licensed dozens of new domestic airlines and opened a throng of new intra-China routes. The result has been chaos. About 275 travelers were reported killed in plane crashes inside China in 1992. There were at least three more fatal domestic crashes last year.

To make matters worse, lax security and political dissatisfaction has led to a spate of hijackings. At least ten Chinese jets were diverted to Taiwan in 1993. In recent years, China has told its pilots to comply with the demands of hijackers. But now the embarrassed Communist government has ordered flight crews to resist when a passenger tries to commandeer a jet. In 1990, the last time a Chinese crew challenged a hijacker, 128 passengers died.

The Indian Subcontinent The safety record of the domestic airline industry in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is appalling, says the International Airline Passengers Association. The fatal accident rate for flights within India is ten times the rate for the rest of the world, IAPA notes.

Besides a spate of fatal crashes and chilling near misses, critics condemn India's domestic airlines for poor pilot training, inadequate maintenance and shoddy aircraft. Besides, complains IAPA, "the air-traffic infrastructure is ineffective ...reason enough to avoid flights within India."

Colombia One social ill tends to exacerbate the other in Colombia. The drug culture--Colombian drug traffickers control an estimated 70 percent of the world's cocaine supply--has a led to a corruption of the nation's air-safety network. Drug guerillas attack airports, airplanes and navigational aids--and bribe officials to falsify flight records. Then there are the mishaps. Last year a U.S. military surveillance plane on a drug-reconnaissance flight nearly collided with a domestic Colombian airliner.

Russia There's little to recommend a domestic flight in the old Soviet Union. The political liberation of the region has crippled domestic Russian aviation. The old airline monopoly, Aeroflot, has been succeeded by at least 300 separate carriers. Plus there's political strife--three passenger jets were destroyed last year during a civil war in the Republic of Georgia--the difficulty of flying in bad weather and the decline of the aviation infrastructure. Alaska Airlines abandoned plans for year-round service to the Russian Far East because airports did not meet international standards.

From the coals-to-Newcastle department: A restaurant serving British fare--fish and chips, kidney pie, and other egregiously English edibles--has opened in Paris. The restaurant is called Bertie's and is located in the Baltimore hotel on the Avenue Kleber. ... Avis has dropped the second-driver charge for car rentals arranged by unmarried couples who live together. Until recently, the company charged extra for second drivers who were not spouses or business associates. ... About 16 million Americans traveled to international destinations other than Canada and Mexico in 1992, says the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration. The private, non-profit research agency added that the average American plans international trip 72 days in advance and spends 19 days overseas. ... This isn't Michael Jackson's year. Besides his other woes, the pop icon is out at Epcot Center in Orlando. The singer's 7-year-old "Captain Eo" attraction will be replaced in the fall by "Honey, I Shrunk the Theater." ... The Sandy Lane resort in Barbados has ended its requirement that men wear ties and jackets after 7 p.m. "Guests do not want to wear the same clothes they wear every day to work," explained general manager Richard Williams. Gee, Dick, did you figure that out all by yourself?

This column originally appeared in Travel Holiday magazine.

This column is Copyright 1994-2017 by Joe Brancatelli. is Copyright 2017 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.