10 Fascinating Facts you Never Knew About Flying on an Airplane
Whether you get on an airplane once a year, once a week or every other day, there are probably still a few things you do not know about flying.
Here are a few secrets you never knew about taking to the skies, according to flight attendants, pilots, and industry experts.
1. The emergency oxygen mask only lasts about 15 minutes
In what probably sounds like a terrifying revelation, the drop-down emergency oxygen masks on the plane are usually only equipped to pump out oxygen for about 10 to 15minutes. But do not freak out.
It normally takes a pilot far less time to drop the plane to a safe altitude than it does for those masks to run dry of oxygen.
The important thing is to get your mask on over your nose and mouth as soon as you can, as you risk passing out just 30 seconds after cabin pressure drops to unsafe levels.
2. The chimes you hear during a flight are actually a secret code
Though they are not usually conveying anything too exciting. According to a blog post, flight crew usually use a system of chimes and bells to communicate across the cabin.
These chime-messages could be about anything from the number of remaining snacks to turbulence detected on the flight path.
On rarer occasions, the chimes could be a signal from the cockpit conveying an emergency or change of route.
3. Airplane lavatories can unlock from the outside
Airplane bathrooms only give you the illusion of privacy.
You can actually unlock the doors from the outside via an external lock mechanism, which is usually hidden beneath the “no smoking” sign on the door, according to LifeHacker.
The lavatories unlock from the outside for safety reasons.
4. You should never drink the water on a plane
Even if you are not a germaphobe, you might want to think twice about drinking the water on a plane.
According to testing conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2004 and 2012, the drinking water on more than one out of every 10 planes tested positive for “high” levels of coliform, which are potentially harmful bacteria found in human feces.
Though coliform by itself is not a serious hazard, it usually signals the presence of other dangerous microorganisms like E. coli.
While the EPA now requires planes to have their water supply tested once a year.
5. Dimming the lights is meant to prepare your eyes for a potential evacuation
No, the crew isn’t trying to lull you to sleep when they dim the lights for takeoff.
Turning down the interior lights is done so that passengers’ eyes are already adjusted to the darkness, just in case something goes wrong during takeoff or landing, according to Conde Nast Traveler.
6. A plane captain has some serious authority
Federal regulations give the “pilot in command,” pretty much unlimited authority while the plane doors are closed, according to Think Aviation.
A PIC can put a passenger in restraints, take a will, write fines, and refuse entry to a passenger who looks sick. A PIC is the ultimate authority on an airplane – what they say goes.
7. Your boarding pass has a lot of hidden information
Much of the text on your boarding pass probably does not make a lot of sense to you at first glance, but it actually includes a wealth of interesting – and potentially sensitive – information.
The first two letters before the flight number refer to the airline. The numerical portion of your flight number is actually a clue as to what direction you will be flying in – odd-numbered flights fly south while even numbers fly west.
Meanwhile, the six-character segment of text on your boarding pass is your booking reference or passenger name record.
This little code actually can be used online to look up everything from your destination to your age and credit card information.
8. The tray tables are the dirtiest things on an airplane
The tray table at your plane seat is probably one of the dirtiest things on your flight. They are only cleaned “about once a day, usually when the aircraft remains overnight.
9. Flight crew don’t really party on layovers
Federal regulations prohibit flight crew from drinking with eight hours of a flight, and airline rules are usually even stricter.
Most flight crew members simply grab some food and hit the sheets after clocking off, as the penalties for being caught drunk or even hungover on the job are severe.
10. Some flight attendant programs are hard to get into
Most people do not realize how difficult it is to become a flight attendant. It requires substantial dedication and risk taking.