40 things you probably ignore about flying and airplanes

13/06/2018 - 3:02 693 Views

Why you need to turn your mobile off

No need to panic. If you leave your mobile on when flying, the plane will not go down. On each flight there is a strong percentage of passengers who does not follow the crew’s instructions. Switching off the electronic devices when on board is highly recommended for two reasons. Even though it is unlikely that these devices can break important communication, they can still interfere with air traffic control frequencies.

This is particularly annoying if it happens during landing or take-off, which are the more delicate phases during a flight. Furthermore, electronic items can be a danger to passengers if they are not secured: they can hit and harm someone in case of turbulences.

Hot to get upgrades

It might sound obvious but, when it comes to getting upgrades (the jackpot prize of the air travel world), the first rule to follow is common sense. Try not to be rude with crew members and act as a nice person, even if you are not. Even better if you are attractive, extremely tall, pregnant, well dressed or a friend of the flight crew. Apparently, you can get an upgrade to business or first class, even when the doors are already closed. It is a rare opportunity that depends on meal and seating availability.

Most hated drink

There is a good reason why Diet Coke is the most hated drink among people who work on planes. As an extremely carbonated fizz, the Diet Coke takes a long time to settle when the plane flies at a cruising altitude of 35.000 feet. It also takes forever to pour. Apparently it takes roughly three times as long to pour the soft drink as it does for other beverages. That said, you can still order Diet Coke on a plane if you are desperate for it. Cabin crew will serve you, but they will secretly hate you.

Flirting when flying

Are crew members allowed to date passengers? Most airlines do not appear to have any policy with regards to flirting or fraternizing with passengers. Most flight attendants do not seem very happy to receive special attention from travellers. However, finding a potential partner on board is not forbidden at all. After all, crew members look for love as anybody else and they spend long hours on board, which makes it easier for them to find a partner while working. This is generally allowed, as long as it does not interfere with their professional duties. It is not so uncommon for a crew member to meet his lifelong partner during a flight.

Join the Mile High Club

As much as exciting, the legendary “Mile High Club” appears uncomfortable and not so easy to practise. Try and have sex in a small and unstable bathroom. We all have read or heard stories about it, but it is very difficult to avoid the vigilant watch of flight attendants. Even though this is not 100% illegal, if you get caught having sex on a plane, you might be charged of indecent exposure or interfering with the flight crew. Also, it is not safe at all, as lavatory doors can be unlocked from the outside for safety purposes.

Real food?

Food provided on board is probably not the most delicious thing you have ever tried. When it comes to health, sandwiches and other pre-packaged bundles offered by airlines do not seem to be very nutritious either. Some studies have shown that meals served on planes have basically zero nutritional value as they are full of salt, sugar, fat and simple crabs. The best advise you can take is to fill up your handle bag with snacks before boarding, especially if you are a frequent flyer.

Spot the Air Marshal

As Melissa MacCarthy from “Bridesmaids” knows it, finding out where the air marshal keeps his gun is not the easiest task in the world. Even recognizing the air marshal among the passengers is basically impossible, as they always fly incognito. After 9/11 terroristic attack their presence on national and international flights has been increased dramatically in the United States. This does not mean that you will find an Air Marshal on every single plane who takes off from an American airport. This is the case for other airlines, namely the Israel’s flagship airline El Al.

What’s hidden behind a smile.

Welcoming passengers on board with a smile is one of the duties of flight attendants. However, the formality of greeting the travellers hides a more important task. While welcoming passengers, crew members take the opportunity to observe them and to get a overall idea of the person. In particular they assess if someone may become problematic or, on the contrary, very helpful during an emergency.  In addition, they look for people who are intoxicated, physically fit, physically disabled, travelling alone or in a group and those who speak (at least enough) English.

How safe is your flight?

For many people flying is a terrifying experience. If you are scared of getting on a plane, it might be helpful to know that flight attendants have a long checklist to take care of before welcoming passengers on board. This list have got some priorities and, in case of delays, there is a threshold for minor failures that can go unattended. However, this does not affect the safety provisions. Airplanes are usually made to handle thunderstorms, even when they are hit by lighting. Pilots are supposed to be checking the weather forecast before the flight. In terms of safety, one of the most dangerous habits on board is not to fasten your belt when required. This is often cause of injuries in case of turbulence, along with unsecured items flying across the cabin.

Are you a Flight Attendant? How exciting!

Many people would love to get a job as a flight attendant. It sounds exciting to travel around the world the whole year. However, there is a lot of inconvenience that people do not consider at all. First of all flying schedule is most of the time very hectic and busy. Also flight attendants are only paid once the main cabin doors are shout or once the flight is airborne. Delays and cancellations are quite annoying for crew members, as they do not get paid until the plane leaves the gate. This policy may change according to the airline.

The Brace Position Myth

It is the typical position passengers are asked to adopt in case of an impact. A weird conspiracy has been spread about the brace position, according to which it can facilitate a quicker death if an accident occurs. Flying experts, however, have claimed this is just a myth. When assuming the brace position, a passenger compacts the body and protect the vitals from injury. Such position also facilitates force of a crash to channel into the chair in front of you rather than through the body.

How heavy luggages affect a plane stability

Being charged additional fees for overweight or extra luggage is very annoying, especially if you know that this does not affect the safety of  the plane. Most of them are designed to transport at least one stowed bag per passenger. It it important for a plane to have the right centre of gravity, which is why the flying industry has employed a long time practice of loading sandbags into the cargo.

What happens in a case of Medical Emergency

If a medical emergency occurs on a plane, flight attendants are trained to intervene and offer an immediate help. They can administer CPR and perform the Heimlich manoeuvre. In the plane equipment, there are first aid kits and also defibrillators which are compulsory for planes carrying more than 30 passengers. In case of emergency, cabin crew will ask if there is a doctor on board. A pilot is also allowed to divert and ground the plane if necessary. This manoeuvre takes about 15 minutes on domestic flights, but it might be much more complicated if you are on board of an overseas flight.

Sit back and enjoy your flight

What most people hate about flying is the stress and the discomfort that comes with it. Some passengers have found a solution by carrying the miraculous neck pillow. However, the are some behaviours you should try to avoid if you are on a plane. If you need to stretch your legs out and go for a walk, keep your shoes and socks on. Walking barefoot along the aisle not only is rude, it might also cause injuries, as you never know what can be lying on the floor.

Don’t forget to be nice

Try walking in a flight attendant’s shoes and you will see they do not have an easy life at all: running from flight to flight, without many naps, always vigilant and ready to take care of the safety and comfort of passengers every day. As a crew member, you would really appreciate if people were nice to you. Also, be nice and polite with a flight attendant can make the difference if you are craving for a better seat. On the contrary, if you are rude, you might end up sitting surrounded by a bunch of babies and children. Good luck with that!

How Clean is the Water?

Water running from the bathroom tap on airplanes is not drinkable. We all agree with that. What about the water flight attendants use to make coffee or tea. Is that clean enough? According to the reports of many crew members, it is best to get your drink at the airport, before or after flying. The containers for those drinks are cleaned, but not as often as it would be necessary. Planes are busy environments. Also, the valve for cleaning lavatory is very close to the one for filling clean water. So if you feel like having a coffee or a cup of tea on your next flight, think again!

What’s really like being a flying attendant

Many people dream about being part of a flight crew, maybe because they have seen the glamorous life of Gwyneth Paltrow in the film “View from the top”. Life is much harder for flying attendants than one could imagine. It is nothing like a typical 9 to 5 job. They work long hours and have to battle constantly with jet lag. Not to mention the fact that they spend long periods away from family. Nobody would love to be waken up at 4 am in the morning to cover someone else’s shift or to work weekends, night and holiday hours. In addition, seniority dictates when and where flight attendants fly.

How Much Power Does the Pilot Have?

As the highest authority on the plane, a pilot has a lot of power. He can command decisions, lead the crew, handle emergencies and troublesome passengers. However, he does not have the authority to make arrests mid-flight. What he can do is contact police officers who will arrest the problematic person, once the plane lands. He is allowed to place someone in handcuffs only in case he or she is putting the safety of passengers at risk. One of the things pilots are allowed to do is taking a dying passenger’s will.

How Clean are Planes, Really?

If you are obsessed with cleaning and hygiene, you better not travel via airplanes. Between flights, crew members do some cleaning such as vacuuming and empting trash from the cabin. However, tray tables, armrests and windows are not the cleanest, which is why some passengers take disinfectant wipes with them when they fly. As turnovers are pretty fast, flight attendants do not have much time for deep cleaning. The FAA is not responsible for the frequency and accuracy of plane cleanliness which is a task of airlines.

Are crew members allowed to eat on board?


Of course they are. However, as a rule, those in the cockpit do not eat the same food while they are on the job. This measure is meant to prevent food poisoning and long runs to the bathroom on the plane. On international flights you can get crew meals, which usually does not happen on domestic flights. Each airline has got its own policy, but it is usually the pilot who gets the first class meal, while the co-pilot eats the business class meal. Many crew members prefer to bring their own food to have a bite during the flight.

What Happens to Unused Food After a Flight?

Food that has not been eaten during the flight is usually thrown away. Most sandwiches and meals you find on board are prepared by airline-contracted catering services. The food on board is supposed to be fresh. However, most of it is prepared between 12 and 72 hours before the flight. According to international standards the food can be chilled for up to 5 days.

What is Proper Passenger Etiquette?

Most passengers think that flight attendants are a sort of babysitters or wait staff. Their job does include serving food and beverages and take care of the comfort and safety of all passengers. However, the duties of a flight attendant are much more various than that. The flight staff is trained to do CPR, use EpiPens, AEDs and defibrillators. They also attend training sessions where they learn self-defence, how to handle difficult passengers, emergency evacuation or attempted hijacking. The most important duty, however, is guarding the cockpit and make sure no passengers enter in there while the plane is flying.

How safe are we when we fly?

Take-off and landing are the most delicate moments during a flight. In those moments the lives of many passengers are in the hand of the pilots. Few minutes that require a high level of attention and accuracy. According to statistics, flying is much safer than driving. Studies from US government have shown that the chance to be involved in a fatal car accident is 1 in 98, while the possibility of being in an air crash is as little as 1 in 7.178. Keep reading to find out more about the world of airlines.

Can the Flight Crew Sleep on Flights?

Finding the time to take a nap on board is basically impossible for flight attendants. Only on international flights that require long hours, the planes are provided with special sleeping cabins for the staff. This is the case of most Boeing 777 and 787, which have windowless sleeping quarters, that are usually located above or below the galley. On longer flights pilot are allowed to take breaks for sleeping: in this case the copilots is in charge of the cockpit while the boss takes a nap. The sleeping cabin for the pilots is usually in a separate compartment.

Is drinking allowed on a plane?

Alcohol is served on planes in small quantities, usually mini bottles. If a flight attendant notices that someone is overdoing, he is allowed to stop serving this person. It is illegal both to get drunk on a plane and to allow people to get drunk.  If you are caught drinking alcohol in high quantities you can be sentenced up to 2 years prison. If you drink while flying, you should take in consideration that due to the changing cabin pressure, each glass of wine or beer will affect you more than it would do on land.

What Exactly is in the Baggage Compartment?

When travelling on a plane, you might have noticed that in the cargo hold there are some weird containers. Commercial airlines do not transport passengers luggage only. There are lots of weird things that are shipped via plane including human remains (or HR, on the radio). This happens mainly when people die abroad and the corpses need to be taken back to their country. Most of the time passengers do not realize there is a corpse travelling with them, unless they spot a wood framed box.

Why are lights dimmed before landing?

Have you ever wondered why the cabin lights are dimmed at night during take-off and landing? The reason is that those are the moments when a flight is most prone to problems. Cabins get darked to allow the eyes to get used to the lack of light, in case of an unexpected emergency. If you have a look along the aisle when lights are dimmed, you will see that the emergency path and lit signs become much more visible, which is vital to make the evacuation easier and faster.

Breathing on the plane

One of the things people are scared of when flying is the chance of contracting airborne viruses. However, the air you breath on a plane is not very different from the air you breath in your office. In the planes the air comes from the engine’s compressors: what is known as the “bleed air” combines recirculated and fresh breathable air. So, if you start coughing and sneezing during your flight, do not blame it on the air you breathe on the plane. 

Can a plane fly without an engine?

Of course it can, but you would not realize it if it happened. It is extremely rare for a plane to experience an engine failure, but if that happens planes are fully equipped to keep flying in an emergency. In the very rare circumstance when both engines fail, keep in mind that you are in good hands. Pilots are trained to make planes glide as far as possible: a jet can usually glide about 1.5 nautical miles for every 1.000 feet of altitude.

Blankets and pillows. Are they clean enough?

According to several researches the dirtiest parts of a plane are the tray tables. However, in-flight blankets, pillows and even headphones are not very clean either. They are usually repackaged with plastic wrap but they are not new most of the times and they get washed very rarely. Fresh blankets are more likely to be found on early morning flights. After a plane lands, these blankets are usually stuffed in the bin and folded quickly, so they can be ready for the next flight.

Flying with pets

If you own a pet, you might have already considered the best ways to travel with a dog or a cat. No matter which mean of transportation you use: travelling is most of the times a stressful experience for animals. Even though airlines have been trying to make pets’ life on board as easy as possible, there are still a few issues that are impossible to be fixed. For instance factors like noise on the ramp can’t be avoided, as one aircraft fueler has explained.

Why is flying so expensive?

When it comes to flying there is a long list of costs that an airline has to face. If you want to have an idea about this, you should consider that in order to make profit off of a ticket, a company has to sell 85% of the available seats. This is why airlines try to make profit from baggage fees, seat fees, food and any other items that is possible to sell on board. In addition, most companies do overbooking, as on each plane there is someone missing his flight for several reason. Overbooking allows companies to get an extra profit, with a certain amount of risk.

You don’t need to be good looking to become a flight attendant

Despite what most people may think, the majority of airlines do not have strict standards when recruiting flight assistants. However, this is still the case of old-fashioned companies which use age, weight and personal grooming as criteria of selection. Appearal and professional presentation are undoubtedly an advantage,  but this is the same for most jobs. Many airlines have high parameters to ensure that employees can comfortably do their jobs when flying.

How long do the oxygen masks last?

How many times have you heard the flight attendant’s speech about the behaviour in case of an emergency? It is said that a plane would rarely find itself in a situation where the oxygen masks are required. However, if you take a moment to consider such a terrible circumstance, you might wonder how long these masks can work. They usually work for about 15 mites, which does not sound like a long time. But if you think that in the meantime the pilot is flying down to an altitude where breathing is much easier, you can imply that 15 minutes is plenty of time.

Love on board. Relationships between crew members

Relationships between crew members are not unusual at all. Also the cases of hook-ups  involving pilots, co-pilots and flight attendants are not just rumours. Long hours spent in the same environment make it easy to establish all kinds of relationships. It is also common to find couples that are already together, who chose to work on the same plane. Movies are often full of stories of pilots and flight assistants sleeping together between flights, which is still possible, even though it is not as frequent as it was in the Sixties.

How do crew members communicate to each other

There are some circumstances where crew members need to communicate secret information to each other without anyone on board understanding. Apparently there is a code they use to send these messages. During a flight you can hear lots of beeps and sounds, which do have a meaning and a specific function. Some people working on airline have revealed that the “dings” used at the beginning and at the end of a flight mean that the most dangerous phases of the flights are over. There are also particular sounds that are used in case of emergency, severe turbulence or if someone is trying to get into the cockpit.

Are cheaper flights less safe than expensive ones?

Low cost airlines have allowed lots of people to fly. But does the reduced cost of flying affect the safety of passengers at all? Apparently not. Ticket pricing is very complex and involves a lot of elements. In order to cut the ticket costs, most companies customize aspects such as leg room amenities, seat selection and baggage fees. Safety constraints cannot be compromised at all. Also, given the fact that most low cost planes are new, they may also be safer.

What are the safest seats on a plane?

Statistical studies show that the rear seats on the plane have the highest rates of survival in case of a crush. Also the rear third of a plane holds a higher survival rare compared to the middle or front thirds. Seat belts fastened increase the chances of survival if an accident occurs, as well as sitting next to the aisle or an exit. However, if a plane crashes down the location of your seat is not the main factor that allows you to survive. Statistics luckily shows that most of the airplane accidents are not fatal.

How often autopilot is used during a flight?

Most people are not aware of this when flying, but it is very likely that a computer flies your plane, at least for the majority of the flight. Statistics show that autopilots are used for over 90% of most commercial flights. Some procedures do require a human control. These include take-off, landing and taxing to the gate. When it comes to cruising, autopilots is usually adopted. So what are the cockpit members doing during a flight? They have several tasks to take care of, including navigation systems and communication operation.

When is the best time to fly?

If you want to know when is the best time to fly, there is not best advisor than a crew member. As frequent fliers they know everything about it and they can provide a few tips about travelling with comfort. As they know for sure, the best time for flying is the early hours of the day. Which is bad news if you are not a morning person. Even though getting up early can be difficult, the good news is that most probably you will avoid inclement weather by travelling early in the morning. This means that chances of turbulences and thunderstorms are less likely to happen than they are on late flights. You can always catch up with your sleep during the flight, if that is your main concern.