Although I’ve shared various tips with you on how you can get the cheapest flights possible for your selected days and route, it’s now time to answer some questions regarding what actually goes on when you’re in mid-air. So, from flight attendants themselves, here are 12 things that you didn’t know about flying:
1. You can’t physically open an external door during mid-flight
Ever wondered what would happen if someone reached for the big, red handle on one of an airplane’s external doors? They wouldn’t actually manage to open it, but it’s highly likely that they would end up restrained and in handcuffs for trying to do so. Depending on the airline and pilot, an emergency landing might even be made in order to eject the offending passenger out of the airplane. Don’t do it!
2. Airplanes are nowhere near as clean as you think
The least hygienic areas on an aircraft are its tray tables. It’s commonplace for young moms to change their babies’ diapers on them, and they don’t always get wiped down in-between flights. Even if the entire airplane is cleaned, the cloth used to wipe down the tray tables will have been used to clean 30-odd rows by the time it gets to the back of the airplane…
3. e-Cigarettes are fine, but forget bringing a Galaxy Note 7 on board
Numerous items have been banned from airplanes in recent years, and although there was an incident involving an exploding e-cigarette on board a Delta Airlines flight a couple of years ago, the smoking aids aren’t one of them. In contrast, a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which is a smartphone model that’s notorious for exploding, is completely banned by the US Department of Transportation from being flown both in and out of the USA on commercial flights.
4. Flight attendants are only paid when an airplane takes off
Being a flight attendant isn’t the most lucrative job in the world, and that’s because they only begin to get paid for a shift once the airplane that they’re on takes off. This means that their boarding and deplaning duties are not covered. What’s more is that the salaries for the hours that are paid are usually pretty abysmal. To make matters even direr, flight attendants aren’t covered by their unions for injury when assisting passengers with putting their bags in overhead lockers.
5. The water should be avoided at all costs
The US’ Environmental Protection Agency conducts water testing on airplanes, and finds that one in every eight planes fails to meet its standards for water safety. What’s even more disturbing is that some 15% of all tested aircraft systems are found to contain potentially harmful bacteria. In fact, many flight attendants will not drink hot water (such as in a cup of tea or coffee) when they’re working.
6. Fly early in the day to avoid delays
Customer service representatives that work for airlines agree that, as a general rule, you’re more likely to encounter a delay the later you fly on a given day.
7. Opening the shades for take-off and landing is done for a reason
As part of their training and duties, flight attendants are tasked with assessing conditions outside the airplane, especially when coming in for landing. This is for them to determine whether there are any visible hazards that might impede the passengers’ exit.
8. Checking in last has its perks
The luggage carts that are used to load passengers’ bags into an aircraft’s hold are loaded front to back, and this is to ensure stability when they’re being driven. If your bag is the last one loaded onto to the last luggage cart as a result of checking in last, then it should be the last one loaded onto the airplane. This means that you should be the first passenger to pick theirs up once you enter the terminal building at your destination.
9. You cannot bring your own booze
Although there are numerous individuals that will try and sneak mini-bottles of booze onto a plane, they usually always get found out. There’s an important reason why you can’t serve yourself alcohol during a flight, and that’s because flight attendants are tasked with the responsibility of maintaining passengers’ brain health. Alcohol affects the brain more severely at high altitudes, and the effect is only exacerbated the higher and longer you fly.
10. Open the emergency slide at great risk to your wallet
Deploying the emergency slide without it being absolutely necessary is a terrible idea. Back in 2014, a China Eastern Airlines passenger deployed the one on the flight he was traveling on after it landed, stating that he wanted to get off the aircraft quicker. The incident cost about $16,000. In a separate incident, a United Airlines flight attendant did the same thing, costing her employer between $6,000 and $12,000 just to pack the slide back into its container.
11. Some airplanes still have dress codes
While it’s true that people dress a lot less fancily to fly than they once did, there are still some bare-bones rules that have to be adhered to. For instance, United, American and Delta Air Lines all insist on its passengers keeping their shoes on. Some first class dress codes still stipulate that you have to dress in a specific manner, so it’s a good idea to look comfortable but respectable when flying.
12. Service is better if you’re seated at the back
Despite most passengers tending to select seats the front of an aircraft, they’ll actually get better service at the rear. This is because flight attendants like to avoid responding to call bells at the front of the plane, as doing so will mean that a requested item is shown to everyone. This can cause a problem, because planes don’t often stock enough extra vodka, pillows, earplugs or toothbrushes on board. Seeing as this is not an issue at the rear of the plane, it’s much easier for a second mini bottle of wine (or similar) to be slipped in.