Wednesday, January 19

35 secrets of the airline industry


 

 

Fasten your safety belt…

Surprising, sometimes shocking, secrets about commercial flying have been revealed by airline staff on networking website Reddit and in other candid interviews and online forums.

There’s a cheaper time to buy flights

There’s much debate about this but according to skyscanner, Tuesday afternoons, seven weeks ahead of your flight are the optimal time to get a bargain.

There are ways to get upgraded

Also according to airline price checker Skyscanner, there are ways to bag an upgrade. Tips include traveling at quiet times, flying alone, checking in as early as possible, dressing smartly, using air carrier loyalty cards, being a frequent flyer, and being very nice – or very wronged.

Some airports have cool entertainment

It’s possible to get a massage in certain airports including New Delhi, attend a yoga class at Dallas Fort Worth, enjoy a swim or the koi pond (pictured) at Changi, Singapore, peruse museum pieces in San Francisco International, listen to live music at Nashville International, watch a film at an IMAX in Hong Kong International or even chill out with a therapy dog in Miami.

Some airports have cool entertainment

It’s possible to get a massage in certain airports including New Delhi, attend a yoga class at Dallas Fort Worth, enjoy a swim or the koi pond (pictured) at Changi, Singapore, peruse museum pieces in San Francisco International, listen to live music at Nashville International, watch a film at an IMAX in Hong Kong International or even chill out with a therapy dog in Miami.

Nervous flyer? This should cheer you up

In 2016, Australian carrier Quantas topped AirlineRatings.com’s poll for the third year running for being the world’s safest airline. It’s just one of more than 100 airlines, including Easyjet, Monarch, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic, that have never been in an accident that’s resulted in the death of a passenger. You can also calculate your flight safety using the popular Am I Going Down? app.

Confiscated booze gets drunk by airport staff

You know those cheap bottles of plonk you thought you could sneak through? Well, they don’t necessarily get discarded. US Transportation Security Administration official Jason Harrington told the Politico website that it often gets consumed by staff. You could argue it’s a perk of the job – a spokesman for London’s Gatwick has firmly denied that it happens on British soil though.

Flying isn’t great for pets

A Reddit user admitted that many dogs are scared even before they get on the plane (though cats seem more nonchalant about the experience) and recommended you write your pet’s name on its carrier so it can be comforted by staff. Sedating your animal is discouraged and even banned by some airline carriers.

You won’t believe what shows up in airport lost items…

An article in the Daily Telegraph highlighted some of the items that were left at London airports. These included £50,000 ($71,735), signed blank checks, diamonds, wedding dresses and a Rolex watch. The majority is returned but anything left for more than 90 days gets auctioned off or donated.

You can buy unclaimed items

In the UK, there are auction houses that sell luggage, clothing, electronics and other unclaimed lost property to the highest bidder.

You’re safer in economy…

Business and First Class may offer priority boarding, Champagne and a meal on china plates but a UK TV documentary called The Plane Crash found that passengers towards the back of a plane are more likely to survive a crash

…and if you’re sitting near an emergency exit

The same documentary suggested that sitting within six rows of an exit (window or aisle; there’s little difference) boosts your chances of survival in a crash.

Trays are gross

If you’re inclined towards cleanliness, it may be best to take some antibacterial wipes on flights, so you can give the tray tables a good scrub – they’re regarded as the muckiest part of a plane after travel website TravelMath.com sent a microbiologist to take samples from four flights and five airports.

Headphones aren’t new

They may be packaged but they will have probably been used by a previous passenger, taken away, cleaned and re-bagged.

Electronic devices are probably safe

Pilot Patrick Smith wrote in his book Cockpit Confidential that while phones could “potentially” interfere with a plane’s electronic systems it’s unlikely they will. Airlines prefer to err on the side of caution in case the shielding designed to prevent interference isn’t working properly.

And laptops?

The main reason laptops and tablets need to be stowed is because on take-off and landing, and during severe turbulence, they become potential projectiles that could cause injury or obstruction in an emergency, explains Smith

Don’t bother with the coffee

One airline employee confessed that the container coffee is brewed in is rarely washed which is why the coffee doesn’t taste that great (and you thought it was just your tastebuds at altitude).

Don’t bother with the food either

High altitude and air pressure affects our ability to taste properly and the lack of humidity dehydrates nasal passages, so avoid paying for food on a plane. Even if meals are free they’re laden with salt. Planes have small galleys and many people to serve – often with different dietary requirements – and food-borne illnesses are avoided at all costs, which limits quality. If traveling short-haul eat beforehand, otherwise be gracious – it’s not a Michelin restaurant.

Pilots eat different meals

This is very sensible as it’s to prevent both pilots coming down with food poisoning. They’re not even allowed to try their colleague’s dishes.

A lavatory door is never really locked

For security reasons, cabin crew can always access toilets – inside the toilet sign there’s a latch that can open the door

Planes fly with bits missing

Remember the last episode of Friends when Phoebe tried to stop Rachel from leaving by saying the plane was missing a left phalange? Planes don’t have phalanges, but they do have thousands of other parts and some can be missing yet the aircraft is still fit to fly.

smoderek/Shutterstock

Fasten your safety belt…

Surprising, sometimes shocking, secrets about commercial flying have been revealed by airline staff on networking website Reddit and in other candid interviews and online forums.

Georgejmclittle/Shutterstock

There’s a cheaper time to buy flights

There’s much debate about this but according to skyscanner, Tuesday afternoons, seven weeks ahead of your flight are the optimal time to get a bargain.

Sorbis/Shutterstock

There are ways to get upgraded

Also according to airline price checker Skyscanner, there are ways to bag an upgrade. Tips include traveling at quiet times, flying alone, checking in as early as possible, dressing smartly, using air carrier loyalty cards, being a frequent flyer, and being very nice – or very wronged.

Sorbis/Shutterstock

Some airports have cool entertainment

It’s possible to get a massage in certain airports including New Delhi, attend a yoga class at Dallas Fort Worth, enjoy a swim or the koi pond (pictured) at Changi, Singapore, peruse museum pieces in San Francisco International, listen to live music at Nashville International, watch a film at an IMAX in Hong Kong International or even chill out with a therapy dog in Miami.

Peter Gudella/Shutterstock

Nervous flyer? This should cheer you up

In 2016, Australian carrier Quantas topped AirlineRatings.com’s poll for the third year running for being the world’s safest airline. It’s just one of more than 100 airlines, including Easyjet, Monarch, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic, that have never been in an accident that’s resulted in the death of a passenger. You can also calculate your flight safety using the popular Am I Going Down? app.

Sorbis/Shutterstock

Confiscated booze gets drunk by airport staff

You know those cheap bottles of plonk you thought you could sneak through? Well, they don’t necessarily get discarded. US Transportation Security Administration official Jason Harrington told the Politico website that it often gets consumed by staff. You could argue it’s a perk of the job – a spokesman for London’s Gatwick has firmly denied that it happens on British soil though.

pixnoo/Shutterstock

Flying isn’t great for pets

A Reddit user admitted that many dogs are scared even before they get on the plane (though cats seem more nonchalant about the experience) and recommended you write your pet’s name on its carrier so it can be comforted by staff. Sedating your animal is discouraged and even banned by some airline carriers.

SIHASAKPRACHUM/Shutterstock

You won’t believe what shows up in airport lost items…

An article in the Daily Telegraph highlighted some of the items that were left at London airports. These included £50,000 ($71,735), signed blank checks, diamonds, wedding dresses and a Rolex watch. The majority is returned but anything left for more than 90 days gets auctioned off or donated.

Steve Woods/Shutterstock

You can buy unclaimed items

In the UK, there are auction houses that sell luggage, clothing, electronics and other unclaimed lost property to the highest bidder.

Fotoluminate LLC/Shutterstock

You’re safer in economy…

Business and First Class may offer priority boarding, Champagne and a meal on china plates but a UK TV documentary called The Plane Crash found that passengers towards the back of a plane are more likely to survive a crash.

photobank.ch/Shutterstock

…and if you’re sitting near an emergency exit

The same documentary suggested that sitting within six rows of an exit (window or aisle; there’s little difference) boosts your chances of survival in a crash.

Pavel L Photo and Video/Shutterstock

Trays are gross

If you’re inclined towards cleanliness, it may be best to take some antibacterial wipes on flights, so you can give the tray tables a good scrub – they’re regarded as the muckiest part of a plane after travel website TravelMath.com sent a microbiologist to take samples from four flights and five airports.

Pavel L Photo and Video/Shutterstock

Headphones aren’t new

They may be packaged but they will have probably been used by a previous passenger, taken away, cleaned and re-bagged.

ImYanis/Shutterstock

Electronic devices are probably safe

Pilot Patrick Smith wrote in his book Cockpit Confidential that while phones could “potentially” interfere with a plane’s electronic systems it’s unlikely they will. Airlines prefer to err on the side of caution in case the shielding designed to prevent interference isn’t working properly.

lightpoet/Shutterstock

And laptops?

The main reason laptops and tablets need to be stowed is because on take-off and landing, and during severe turbulence, they become potential projectiles that could cause injury or obstruction in an emergency, explains Smith.

Pavel L Photo and Video/Shutterstock

Don’t bother with the coffee

One airline employee confessed that the container coffee is brewed in is rarely washed which is why the coffee doesn’t taste that great (and you thought it was just your tastebuds at altitude).

Sorbis/Shutterstock

Don’t bother with the food either

High altitude and air pressure affects our ability to taste properly and the lack of humidity dehydrates nasal passages, so avoid paying for food on a plane. Even if meals are free they’re laden with salt. Planes have small galleys and many people to serve – often with different dietary requirements – and food-borne illnesses are avoided at all costs, which limits quality. If traveling short-haul eat beforehand, otherwise be gracious – it’s not a Michelin restaurant.

William Perugini/Shutterstock

Pilots eat different meals

This is very sensible as it’s to prevent both pilots coming down with food poisoning. They’re not even allowed to try their colleague’s dishes.

Volt Collection/Shutterstock

A lavatory door is never really locked

For security reasons, cabin crew can always access toilets – inside the toilet sign there’s a latch that can open the door.

ms Octopus/Shutterstock

Planes fly with bits missing

Remember the last episode of Friends when Phoebe tried to stop Rachel from leaving by saying the plane was missing a left phalange? Planes don’t have phalanges, but they do have thousands of other parts and some can be missing yet the aircraft is still fit to fly.

NShubin/Shutterstock

There are “miracle flights”

A Reddit user posted that passengers often fake needing a wheelchair to get priority boarding and that “10 wheelchairs get on and only one person needs it getting off. We call them miracle flights.”

Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

Celebrities beware

Mere mortals just get overlooked for a drink if they’re unpleasant, but if you’re famous your rudeness can come back to haunt you. On the online pilot forum Pprune.org, industry professionals post their experiences with stars. Kylie Minogue is described as ‘charming’ while Kate Middleton is ‘low-key’ and Prince William ‘chatty and amusing’. However, Naomi Campbell is a ‘nightmare’ and Sir Bob Geldof ‘vile’.

Peter Gudella/Shutterstock

There’s usually a dead body on board

It’s very common for a dead body to be stowed on board a commercial flight, and more than one on bigger aircraft

Sorbis/Shutterstock

Doors cannot open mid-flight

Pilot Patrick Smith explains in his book Cockpit Confidential that doors can’t be opened or overridden during a flight. It’s a matter of physics – cabin pressure physically stops doors from opening. “At a typical cruising altitude, up to eight pounds of pressure are pushing against every square inch of interior fuselage. That’s over 1,100 pounds against each square foot of door,” he explains. “The doors are further secured by electrical and mechanical latches.”

Provided by Love Incorporated

Explosive decompression can happen

Very rarely, a section of roof or fuselage tears off (either through metal fatigue or a bomb) and decompression occurs. If you’re near the hole you can be dragged out – this happened to a member of Aloha Airline’s cabin crew in 1988 because they weren’t strapped in – another good reason to buckle up (pictured). In most incidences, however, pilots make an emergency landing with little or no loss of life. AUTHOR=Konstantin Yolshin/Shutterstock]

Dhoxax/Shutterstock

Planes are struck by lightning regularly…

A jet plane is struck every two to three years but planes are remarkably well designed to cope with a hit. The electricity is discharged by the plane’s aluminum exterior and only rarely is there damage to the plane’s surface or electrical systems.

oneinchpunch/Shutterstock

…and are incredibly adept at coping with turbulence

It may feel like you’ve dropped thousands of feet but when airline crews reassure you there’s nothing to worry about they’re not lying. Airplanes are built to withstand turbulence and while injuries have been recorded planes don’t crash because of it.

Maridav/Shutterstock

Airlines are getting sued for aerotoxic syndrome

It’s not unusual to complain of a cold after flying but in 2015, aviation’s Unite trade union launched legal action on behalf of 60 cabin crew over the deleterious effects of ‘fume events’, causing sickness. Some frequent flyers are also claiming to have been affected.

siraphat/Shutterstock

Emergency landings aren’t uncommon

According to recent figures there’s at least one emergency landing a week at London’s Heathrow – and that’s just one airport. However, given that there are nearly 10,000 take-offs and landings a week from Heathrow, the percentage is actually very small.

Space Chimp/Shutterstock

Flight durations are at the whim of the airline

If your flight took 15 minutes less than you expected, you haven’t made good time. It’s more likely the arrival time was adjusted to allow a leeway for delays, so airlines look more punctual than they actually are.

RioPatuca/Shutterstock

Pointing a laser at a plane is a crime

In 2014, there were 1,440 incidences of laser attacks on UK soil alone. A Virgin Atlantic flight was recently forced to return to Heathrow after an officer was dazzled, and a BA pilot suffered burns to his retinas when a laser was shone in his eyes in 2015. People have been imprisoned for this offence.

Oleg V. Ivanov/Shutterstock

Air travel is worse for the environment than cars…

According to a 2010 report ‘Specific Climate Impact of Passenger and Freight Transport’, emissions from planes have more of an impact on global warming than all the traffic on the world’s roads.

Cerbi/Shutterstock

… and could cause turbulence…

Ironically, global warming could cause an increase in turbulence as climate change may affect air currents, suggests Dr Williams of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science in Reading, England.

Corepics VOF/Shutterstock

…but air travel is still the safest form of transport

According to data on PlaneCrashInfo.com, the odds of being killed on a single airline flight (major airlines) is 1 in 4.7 million. You have much more chance of meeting your end while driving to or from an airport.

Dutourdumonde Photography/Shutterstock

If you’re in a crash, chances are you’ll live

In serious air disasters more than three-quarters of passengers survive. Ways to increase your chances include studying the safety card, sitting towards the back near an exit, keeping your (sensible) shoes on, wearing your seatbelt, and adopting the brace position (this protects your head, arms and legs from injury). Don’t inhale smoke and get out within 90 seconds, recommends The Plane Crash documentary.

Gajus/Shutterstock

Conspiracy theories are just that – theories

Chemtrails, government cover-ups, and paranormal or extraterrestrial involvement are just some of the intriguing suggestions theorists have come up to justify unexplained aviation events.