Behind the scenes details about flying from none other than the Airline professionals (flight attendants, pilots, engineers and frequent fliers) itself.
Dim lights are meant to prepare you for evacuation, not sleep
“When a plane is landing at night, they dim the interior lights incase you need to evacuate upon landing… your eyes are already adjusted to the darkness so you’ll be able to see better once outside the plane.” –@bonestamp
You can unlock a lavatory from the outside.
“You are able to unlock airplane lavatories from the outside. There is usually a lock mechanism concealed behind the no smoking badge on the door. Just lift the flap up and slide the bolt to unlock.” –@threeway
You’re breathing engine air*
“The air you breathe on an airplane is actually compressed air taken from the engines. A large portion (25% to 50%) is blown in the flightdeck, the rest is for the passengers. The air leaves the airplane via a small hole in the back of the fuselage.” –@virgadays
*Well technically, you’re breathing air from the engine’s compressors, not the engine’s exhaust. Boeing’s website explains that air from the engine’s compressors helps to warm and pressurize air from outside the plane. This treated air is then circulated into the cabin for you to breathe.
Those blankets have NOT been washed. Also, there’s a solid chance your tray table has poo on it.
“I worked for Southwest as a flight attendant. Those blankets and pillows? Yeah, those just get refolded and stuffed back in the bins between flights. Only fresh ones I ever saw were on an originating first flight in the morning in a provisioning city. Also, if you have ever spread your peanuts on your tray and eaten, or really just touched your tray at all, you have more than likely ingested baby poo. I saw more dirty diapers laid out on those trays than food. And those trays, yeah, never saw them cleaned or sanitized once.” –@melhow44
This is partly true, says active flight attendant and HuffPost blogger Sara Keagle. Keagle told us that in her airline’s coach class, freshly washed blankets are only supplied to the first flights of the day; after that they’re just folded and re-used. She also says tray tables are cleaned only “about once a day, usually when the aircraft RONs (remains overnight).”
The captain is allowed to arrest you mid-flight*
*We spoke with several flight attendants, each of whom stated that while this isn’t true, the captain has the ultimate authority on a plane, though he can’t actually perform an arrest. Airline expert Chris Lopinto explains that in an emergency, the pilot may call authorities to meet the plane once it lands, and they’ll arrest any unruly passengers who are onboard. “The captain…can put you in restraints for the authorities to pick up on the ground if there is a problem, but the captain can’t ‘arrest’ you in the legal sense of the word,” he says.
You can be upgraded to first class after takeoff.
“Yes, we can upgrade you to business class or first class after the airplane’s doors close. No, we don’t do it very often, partly because on some airlines we have to file a report explaining why we did it, partly because there has to be a meal for you and partly because the forward cabins are often full. Who do we upgrade? Not the slob who’s dressed in a dirty tank top. It helps if you’re extremely nice, well dressed, pregnant, very tall, good looking, one of our friends or all of the above.” –Anonymous flight attendant.
People steal the lifejackets.
“People take those life jackets, located under or between your seat, as souvenirs. It’s a vile and punishable offense, and while airlines do check each seat at the start of every day, a plane could make several trips in a day, during any one of which a passenger could steal a life vest. So, I learned, it’s a good idea to check if the life jacket is indeed there.” –George Hobica, airline expert.
Those masks only give you 15 minutes of air (kinda*)
“If the oxygen masks drop down, you only have about 15 minutes of oxygen from the point of pulling them down. However, that is more than enough time for the pilot to take us to a lower altitude where you can breathe normally.” —-@jezalenko
*”Typically, as soon as the masks come down, the pilot descends to as low an altitude as possible and finds the nearest airport to land,” says George Hobica. Generally speaking, getting to an altitude where you can breathe fairly normally takes between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the plane’s altitude when it depressurized.
Flight attendants sometimes withhold your dinner, hoping you’ll fall asleep
You shouldn’t even TOUCH plane water*
“Do not EVER drink water on an aircraft that did not come from a bottle. Don’t even TOUCH IT. The reason being the ports to purge lavatory sh*t and refill the aircraft with potable water are within feet from each other and sometimes serviced all at once by the same guy.” –@gruntman
*While the exact water refill process probably varies by airline, the Wall Street Journal ran a test of tap water from 14 different flights in 2002 that found bacteria levels “tens, sometimes hundreds of times above U.S. government limits.”