12 Airplane Facts You’ve Always Been Curious About

Flying can spark a lot of questions about everything from the iffy food to the holes in the airplane windows. Brush up on your airplane trivia, and become an airplane expert before you fly off for your next trip.

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Why is there a hole in airplane windows?

If you’ve ever been nervous about the little hole in your airplane window, don’t fret. The hole is necessary to regulate cabin pressure. Airplane windows are made up of multiple panels, so the hole helps the middle panel from becoming stressed with pressure during flight. Next time you have airplane questions about safety, rest assured that the tiny hole in your window isn’t a problem.

Now, you can add that tiny hole in the window to the mental list of hidden airplane features you never knew about.

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Why don’t windows and seats always line up on airplanes?

It can seem a little odd that windows and seats don’t always line up on planes, but airlines are actually to blame. When the YouTube channel Today I Found Out tackled the subject, it found out that seats aren’t placed with any regard to where windows are because the airlines decide how many rows of seats there will be on each plane, and not every airline decides on the same number of rows.

Here’s why airplane seats are actually facing the wrong way.

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Why are airplanes always white?

“The main reason why aircraft are painted white or light colours is to reflect sunlight and minimize both the heating and potential damage from solar radiation,” John Hansman, a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, says. “It’s basically the same as putting sunblock on.” White airplanes also helps airlines spend less to cool the cabin and protects parts of the plane that are susceptible to heat damage.

Discover the secret phrases pilots say!

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Why does airplane food taste so bad?

If eating airline food has left a bad taste in your mouth, you’re not alone. When you’re that high in the air, your sense of taste dulls, so it isn’t necessarily the food’s fault. While that may be true, Harold McGee, a scientist and the author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, says it doesn’t help that airplane food has to be chilled and stored for long periods of time.

Check out the things you should never eat on an airplane.

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What’s the safest seat on an airplane?

While most airline companies and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintains that there is no safest seat, a look at hard data about airline accidents from Popular Mechanics found that it’s safer in the back. The investigation found that passengers near the tail of the plane were 40 per cent more likely to survive a crash than those in the front. So next time you book a flight, you might want to get a seat in the back.

Learn the right way to germ-proof your plane seat.

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Why do cabin crews dim the lights when a plane lands?

One of the most unknown facts about airplanes is that cabins dim the lights during landing for security preparation reasons. Dimming the lights is a precautionary measure that allows a passenger’s eyes to adjust to the darkness. That way, if something goes wrong on the descent, everyone’s eyes will already be adjusted for evacuation.

Here’s why you should never take your shoes off on an airplane.

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What are the white trails that planes leave in the sky?

Those white lines in the sky are called vapour trails or contrails, and they are the result of aviation fuel being burned. When the fuel is burned, it produces carbon dioxide and water, which condenses into tiny droplets behind a plane in the air. If you pay close attention, you can see that there’s always a gap between a plane and the vapor trails—that’s because it takes time for the gas to form as droplets. The more you know!

Find out why airlines don’t tell you how long flights really are.

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Can a plane door actually open mid-flight?

Rest assured, it cannot. In fact, it’s actually impossible. The cabin pressure simply won’t let you. As askthepilot.com explains, “At a typical cruising altitude, up to eight pounds of pressure are pushing against every square inch of the body of the aircraft. That’s over 1,100 pounds against each square foot of door.”

We’ve rounded up some of the surprising things flying does to your body.

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Is flying in lightning safe?

Flying in lightning is generally safe because planes are built to withstand lightning strikes. The metal from the plane serves as protection, and aircraft have lightning protection systems to fight electrical build-up. In fact, the safest place to be in a lightning storm is inside a metal cage such as an aircraft. The FAA even estimates that every plane currently in service in the United States gets hit by lightning at least once a year. How’s that for some airplane trivia?

Find out the free things you can do at the airport!

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Why do your ears pop while flying?

Ear popping can be an unfortunate side effect of flying, but it isn’t one that can be remedied easily. Ears pop because when planes get higher in the sky, the surrounding atmosphere becomes thinner. The air inside the cabin, however, is pressurized to a different level, and according to physics.org, this causes the air trapped in our bodies (and ears) to expand. While there’s no way around this happening, experts recommend chewing gum or yawning to sort your ears out.

Here the things you should never do on a plane.

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Why can’t you take a bottle of water through security?

Even the best people at airplane trivia might not know why bottled water is such a no-no in security lines. You can’t take a bottle of water through security because it causes both safety and time issues. While TSA security scanners are advanced, they have trouble telling a full bottle of water apart from a bottle of chemicals. TSA allows liquids in small doses, but they have to go through separate from your carry-on luggage.

Check out these ways to get through the airport faster!

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Why are airplane seats so cramped?

The lack of space in an airplane seat can be boiled down to one word: money. The more people an airline can fit into an airplane, the more money they can make. A study by travel analyst Bill McGee in 2014 revealed that space between seats has actually been reduced over the years. Since 1990, the space between airplane seats has been reduced by two to five inches.

Before booking your next trip, read up on these facts about Canadian airlines!

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest