Flying is one of the most popular means of travel. It’s not only the fastest way to travel across the globe, but also the safest. While most travelers are aware of the tips and tricks to make their travel routine a bit easier, there are many things that are hidden from the public.
Flight attendants are a fleet of people who have first hand knowledge of everything that happens within the airline industry. With the help of some experts and veteran flight attendants, we are sharing 10 airline secrets that are surely capable of changing the way you think about flying.
1. Don’t ever drink the coffee on a plane.
If you are an avid coffee lover as well as someone who travels a lot, then you should refrain from accepting coffee or tea while flying. According to a new airline food study from the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, it’s best to avoid drinking water used by airlines in flight.
Another study conducted by the EPA found that water in more than 15 percent of commercial planes is contaminated with disease causing pathogens. The Today also reports that in-flight coffee or tea is also made from the same airplane tap water that you avoid brushing your teeth with. (source)
2. Airplanes don’t get cleaned as much as we would hope them to be. In fact, the dirtiest part of the plane are the tray tables.
The truth is that tray tables are only superficially cleaned. In fact, a study found that one of the dirtiest places inside an airplane is the tray table. Some people use the trays to rest their heads while sleeping, to change babies, and in some cases, rest their feet. A study conducted by Airline Hygiene found that the average tray table in an airplane has more than 8 times the number of bacteria found on the lavatory flush button. While most airlines clean or try to clean between flights, they rarely pay attention to detail. Usually, the cleaners use the same sponge or cloth to wipe more than 200 tray tables and by doing so, are just transferring bacteria from one tray to another. (source)
3. There’s a reason why flight attendants want you to keep the shades open during take off and landing.
If you have ever had your shades down before take off, then you might have had a flight attendant come and ask you to keep it open until the flight is in the air. While most people don’t bother to think why, it is in fact for the safety of the passengers. During take off, if there’s an emergency and the airplane has to land, then the flight attendants have to keep an eye out for possible danger.
Apart from that, before opening the main door after landing, flight attendants are required to look outside and assess the conditions. In addition, if the windows are left open and there’s an issue with the engines, even if the flight attendants fail to see it, the passengers would surely witness this and inform them. (source)
4. Dim lights are meant to prepare you for evacuation, not sleep. The dim lights help your eyes adjust to the light outside, allowing you to escape quickly.
The truth is that our eyes need time to adjust to change in light. This means that, if the cabin is dimly lit, and the plane had to make an emergency landing, then your eyes are already adjusted to the darkness, allowing you to follow the lighted pathways on the floor to the exit. In case of emergencies, the first three minutes are vital for the survival of passengers. So, if your eyes are not adjusted to the light, and you take too long to exit, you could be preventing yourself or someone else from safely exiting the aircraft. (source)
5. The most dangerous times while riding in an airplane, no matter the length or distance of the trip, is always the take-off and landing.
If you think about it, take offs and landings are when the plane is in closer proximity to the ground. Additionally, this is also when the speed of airplanes are slower and pilots are required to perform more maneuvers. During take offs and landings, there are more airplanes in the airspace within close proximity, that are also trying to take off and land. A Boeing statistical study showed that 16% of accidents occurred during take offs whereas 29% occurred during the approach and landing. This is why you need to be highly alert during these time periods. (source)
6. Airplane lavatories can be unlocked from outside, even if they are locked from the inside.
In order to ensure the safety of the passengers, as well as crew members, lavatories can be unlocked from outside. While the secret is not known by many, flight attendants use this trick to catch those who wish to smoke or join the mile high club. There is usually a lock mechanism concealed behind the no smoking badge or the occupied sign on the door. In order to open a lavatory from the outside, flight attendants lift the flap up and simply slide the bolt to unlock. (source)
7. The air you breathe on an airplane is actually compressed air taken from the engines.
The air inside an airplane, or the air circulated within the cabin, is actually compressed air taken from the engines. According to insiders, a large portion (25% to 50%) is blown into the flight deck, and the rest is for the passengers. This does not mean that the air inhaled by passengers comes from the engine’s exhaust. The reason why air is pulled from the engine, rather than outside, is because the process helps warm and pressurize the air from outside the plane. The outside air is then mixed with the recycled air within the cabin, thus allowing the cabin to maintain humidity and temperature. (source)
8. The blankets and pillows you receive are not clean.
The blankets and pillows provided by most airlines are assumed to be clean. In reality however, they are just refolded and stuffed back in the bins between flights. The only time they are clean is when they are on an originating first flight in the morning in a provisioning city. So, next time you get cold, or simply want to rest your eyes for a few minutes, refrain from using the provided blanket and pillow. (source)
9. It’s not unusual for pilots to fall asleep while flying.
While pilots are trained to handle extreme emergencies and to think quickly, they too are human. According to a survey conducted on pilots from the U.K., Norway, and Sweden, between 43 and 54 percent of them admitted to have fallen asleep while flying a passenger plane. While pilots or captains are allowed to rest in between long flights while the co-pilot mans the controls, about half of pilots in the survey said they had indeed fallen asleep “involuntarily” during a flight. (source)
10. It’s not unusual for people to steal life jackets from underneath the seat.
In case of an emergency, life jackets are provided for passengers, which are located right underneath the seats. While it’s a vile and punishable offense to steal life jackets from airplanes, that does not stop people from collecting a souvenir. Because of this, airlines do check every morning to make sure that there are life jackets underneath all seats. At the same time, airplanes make multiple trips in a day. So, if you happen to board a mid-day flight, right after someone snatched the life jacket from underneath your seat, then it could be a risky flight. Experts advise passengers to check under their seats before take off, so they can alert flight attendants. (source)