01/10/2013 02:05 EST | Updated 01/10/2013 04:56 EST

World's Safest Airline: Finnair Soars To The Top, Says The Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre

Flickr: AleGranholm

Last year may have felt like a lousy time to fly — what with super storms causing thousands of delays, seats coming loose mid-flight and a meltdown or two on board a plane — but for the most part, at least people arrived in one piece.

That may do little to comfort passengers angry with more airline fees or frustrating experiences with airport security but hey, travellers can feel good about the fact that flying is getting safer.

Now. the flying experience may vary from person to person, but according to the Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre, there are some airlines that routinely performed better than others in 2012. According to the German watchdog for airline safety, airlines in Europe, New Zealand and Hong Kong scored the highest in terms of safety. The company's Safety Index took into account how long the airlines had been operating, the time since the airline lost its last aircraft, as well as the total number of aircraft destroyed since 1983 — the year the company started monitoring airlines.

When it came to airlines from North America, it was low-cost carriers, not national airlines, which cracked the list's top 20 ranking. JetBlue ranked 14th on the list of the world's biggest 60 airlines, while Calgary-based WestJet edged in at 19 when it came to safety. Both airlines have yet to record any fatalities or crashes but have also been operating fewer years when compared with larger carriers like United, Air Canada or Southwest Airlines.

In total, 2012 saw a total of 496 fatalities on commercial passenger flights last year, two fewer than in 2011, reports the Daily Telegraph. The numbers echo the statement that 2012 was a good year for airline safety, with the Aviation Safety Network citing that flying is consistently becoming less dangerous, as noted by the International Business Times.

“Since 1997, the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, probably thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organizations such as ICAO, IATA, Flight Safety Foundation and the aviation industry,” said ASN President Harro Ranter.

But that's not to say the year was incident-free.

Last year's worst accident happened on June 3 after a Dana Air MD-83 crashed while approaching Lagos, Nigeria, killing 153 on board and 10 on the ground, according to CNN.

To see how airlines around the world fared in the JACDEC's annual ranking, check out the gallery below:

World's Safest Airlines, As Ranked By The JACDEC

World's Most Dangerous And Safest Airlines As Ranked By The JACDEC