Flying has become an increasingly common way to travel, with more than 37 million commercial flights flown in 2017. However, even if you’re a frequent flier, there may still be some things you don’t know. Below, find 10 surprising facts about air travel that may be new to you, or at least fresher than the blankets on your next flight…
1. Mobile phones won’t put you in danger
Mobile phones don’t disrupt any of the communication or navigation systems on aircraft. It’s totally up to the airline to choose whether they allow them or not. Not to mention, phones can be very irritating for crew and other passengers.
2. The toilets are never really locked
You can manually open the lavatory doors on planes from the outside without any external aid. Simply slip a fingernail underneath the edge of the lavatory sign and slide the knob to unlock the door.
3. Don’t drink the coffee
Don’t drink coffee on the plane. Seriously, just don’t. It’s made with the potable water and those tanks are rarely cleaned out. None of the crew drink it. Airplane water tanks are notoriously hard to clean, so even when they are flushed with disinfectant, most bacteria stays in the tank. Do you really want to be sick on your 12-hour flight? I think not, ask for bottled water instead.
4. Plane food tastes bad for a reason
The low humidity dries out our nasal passages, and the air pressure desensitises our taste buds, which is why airline often opt for salty stews or spicy curries. Airlines planning a new menu will often taste food and wine on board a flight before clearing it for public consumption, because of the variation in taste. Some airlines install sealed rooms in their kitchens room to replicate the experience of eating in the sky.
5. Economy class seats are safer
The majority of studies suggest that, in the event of a crash, those sat at the front of an aircraft – traditionally where premium-class seating is found – are more likely to die. You will also raise your chances of survival if you are within a few rows of an emergency exit.
6. Pilots and copilots can’t eat the same meal
. The reason for this is pretty obvious: eating different meals reduces the chance that both pilots will be incapacitated by food poisoning during the course of the flight.
7. It’s impossible to open a plane door during a flight
Cabin pressure won’t allow it. Think of an aircraft door as a drain plug, fixed in place by the interior pressure. Almost all aircraft exits open inward. Some retract upward into the ceiling; others swing outward; but they open inward first.
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. So even Chuck Norris couldn’t open it.
8. Window seats don’t exist just for passengers’ benefit
..they’re also required by the captain. If the crew believe there is an issue with a wing – the flaps, the slats or even engines – looking out of the window is the best way to verify visually their concerns one way or another. And to do that they will head to the best seat in the house, as usually marked by a small black triangle sticker on the interior cabin wall.
9. …as is the reason for dimming the lights on a plane
The real reason that lights are turned low is for our safety in the event of an accident.
Dimming the lights allows your eyes to pre-adjust to darkness, so that you’re not suddenly blinded if something happens and the power goes out, and you’re dashing for the doors in darkness or smoke.
10. What that tiny hole in the airplane window does
It’s to regulate cabin pressure. Most airplane windows are made up of three panels of acrylic. The exterior window works as you would expect—keeping the elements out and maintaining cabin pressure. In the unlikely event that something happens to the exterior pane, the second pane acts as a fail-safe option. The tiny hole in the interior window is there to regulate air pressure so the middle pane remains intact and uncompromised until it is called into duty.