10 Things You Never Knew About Air Travel
Think you know everything there is to know about air travel? Think again. Here are a few things we bet you had no idea could happen on your flight.
U.S. Pilots May Be Armed
Yes, a U.S. pilot is, at the moment, legally allowed to be armed with a gun in the cockpit. President Obama has been working for several years to end this program and it has become more difficult for pilots to obtain and keep a gun permit. However, they are still allowed to carry them for the time being. American pilots feel this is the cheapest and most effective way of fighting terrorism. No need to worry, though. Pilots are only allowed to use their firearms in the cockpit, for an emergency. Otherwise, the gun is locked away, with the safety on, to prevent any potential accidents.
You Can Get More Food and Drinks
That teeny bag of cookies and ice-packed cup of soda just aren't going to hold you over till your flight lands. Though you are only given one bag of snacks, you can actually ask for a second. You can also get the entire soda can! Yes, the whole can. They may not offer it to you but that doesn't mean it's off limits. Unless they're running low on products, flight attendants are usually more than happy to serve you more snacks. You can also ask for water at any time during the flight, not just when the drink cart is passing. The air can get extremely dry on a plane, making you quite thirsty. It's important to stay hydrated so feel free to kindly ask your flight attendant for a beverage.
Engines Fail In-Flight Often
They'll never mention it during the announcements while you're 36,000 feet in the air, but it's not uncommon for one of a plane's engines to fail in-flight. To prevent panic, the crew won't even mention it because it's technically not even an emergency situation. It may sound scary to know an engine has failed but the truth is, twin-engine planes are designed to fly with only one engine. There is nothing to worry about when one engine fails, which explains why no one will ever tell you when it does.
Lightning Strikes Planes Often
You may think being struck by lightning is a death sentence when you're in the air but planes actually get hit by lightning regularly. They're very large machines and built to handle it. If you happen to see a lightning flash in the sky through your window, don't panic. Even if you were struck, it would be highly unlikely that your flight would be put in danger because of it.
Airplane Air is Cleaner Than You Think
Although the air can start to smell dingy after a few hours in flight, it's actually the cleanest air you can get. It's not recycled air riddled with the germs of everyone on board. The air is filtered through the same type of air filtration systems used in most hospitals. So despite the musty odour, you're actually breathing in some pretty fresh air for a confined space. If you do catch a cold it's not because the air is loaded with germs. It's because people with germs are sitting right next to you, and touching the same lavatory door handle as you.
You Can Get a Cockpit Tour
Increased security has us all thinking the cockpit of a plane is harder to get into than the Pentagon. But the truth is, you can ask for a tour of the cockpit and the answer will almost always be yes. If you have a child who would love to take a look at all the gadgets and goodies hiding in the top-secret cockpit, speak to the flight attendants about a tour. Of course, the cockpit if off limits during flight for safety reasons, but once a flight has landed, pilots are usually glad to show off their cool equipment, especially to enthusiastic kids.
Your Pilot May Be Napping In-Flight
You wouldn't want to get into a car with a driver asleep at the wheel, but chances are you've been in a plane piloted by someone in REM sleep. It sounds a little unsettling but rest assured, autopilot is very different from cruise control. The pilot doesn't need to be looking at the flight path. There are plenty of tools and gadgets in that cockpit to keep the plane on track, as well as surveillance crews on the ground, tracking every mile. Also, there is always a co-pilot, just in case.
Oxygen Masks Are Only Useful for 15 Minutes
You may think those oxygen masks that drop down have tons of oxygen to last the rest of your flight. The truth is, they only have 15 minutes worth of oxygen in them. A lot of people may panic at this news but the important thing to remember is that 15 minutes is way more than enough time for the pilot to get the plane to a lower altitude where you can breathe comfortably without the mask. Should you ever see one dropped, get it on as quickly as possible and before you know it, you'll be breathing just fine again.
Pilots Are Often Served Different Meals
Not all airlines continue to observe this precautionary rule, but in many cases, no two pilots on the same flight are fed the same meal. Not only do they get a different meal from each other, but they also get a different meal from the passengers. This is mainly done to prevent food poisoning between both pilots. Someone needs to be in shape to fly the plane! And although we're not entirely positive, we think they're also getting a slightly better meal than the paying passengers. However, we can easily forgive this since pilots spend the vast majority of their time on planes, eating plane food.
Lavatories Unlock from the Outside
You may think you can get away with smoking or even naughty activity in the lavatory, but don't think that flimsy lock will prevent anyone from stopping you. Under the latch, there is a mechanism that allows the crew to unlock the lavatory door from the outside. This is useful in case of any sort of emergency, like a passenger suffering from a heart attack while locked in the lavatory. It's also good for anyone planning on breaking the rules to know beforehand. Did you really think you it could be that easy?