31 Weird Things You Never Knew About Flying

Flying is still a mysterious experience that terrifies some people. After all, you are doing something that is naturally not possible. Worldwide, 2.75 billion passengers fly on commercial airlines every year. Planes are scary machines that can be very intimidating, especially if you don't know anything about air travel.

There are guidelines for how many screws can be missing

Planes don't need to be in perfect condition in order to safely get you to your destination. Ideally there would be no screws missing but there's a threshold of acceptable missing screws on the plane, according to Air Crew Life. So don't worry next time you see something loose on the plane. For example, a plane landed safely even though at least five screws on one wing were missing.

Planes land hard in bad weather on purpose

First of all, don't be afraid if the plane lands in a thud because they are built to handle stresses well beyond the typical hard landing. Sometimes landing like that is intentional. For example, you can expect a hard landing if it had been raining and there is water on the ground. This is necessary to prevent skidding or sliding.

Flying causes dehydration

An airplane has limited humidity making travelers prone to dehydration. You lose about 8 ounces of water an hour. When lacking water, the body will restrict airways as a self-defense mechanism to preserve whatever water it has left. Dehydration can make you sick in many ways. If you don't want to wake up with a headache and/or digestive problems, drink some water.

…which leads to bad breath

This is largely due to dehydration. Planes are dry spaces with lots of people. Such conditions will dry your mouth, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Saliva, which basically flushes the germs from your mouth, has many anti-bacterial properties. Studies have shown that licking wounds make scientific sense because it is a natural antiseptic.

Your taste buds don’t work

Have you ever tried food on the plane and thought it was not done well because it tasted weird? The problem may be you. A lot is happening that affects your taste buds. Air pressure is changing too fast and you're breathing dry cabin air. This causes the nasal mucus membranes to try, which can lead to reduced taste by as much as 30 percent.

You are way more emotional on planes

Flying has become a very common way to travel far and away, but the body and mind are still adjusting. Have you cried like a baby watching a movie you normally would find dull? Even superstars such as Ed Sheeran, are not immune. There is only anecdotal evidence, and many theories, but the tendency really is for people to cry more readily on planes, as research commissioned by Gatwick airport shows.

Turbulence is not dangerous

Turbulence is not dangerous; it's unpleasant. Pilots don't worry about it. Planes do not crash from turbulence. It actually should be expected as it's part of flying. Different factors can cause turbulence. The most common type of turbulence is the Clear Air Turbulence which is like a fast-flowing river (the plane) swirling against the riverbank (the air flow).

You can never actually lock yourself in the bathroom

Flight Attendants have a secret way to get into the lavatory from the outside. So don't do something you're not supposed to, ok? There is a latch under the 'Occupied' sign that they can access that will allow them in to the lavatory at any time. If you are locked they are able to unlock it from the outside within seconds. 

Plane exhausted kills more people than plane crashes

Toxic pollutants kill at least ten thousand annually, study says. In comparison, airplane crashes have killed about a thousand people a year. Airplane exhaust, like car exhaust, contains a variety of air pollutants, including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

It’s dark inside a plane for a good reason

During night flights flight attendants are required to turn off the lights in the cabin during take-off and landing, as they need passengers' eyes to adjust to their external surroundings. The lights in the cabin should match what the lighting is outside of the aircraft. If it is light outside, the lights can be on but if it's nighttime, the lights must be turned off.

People’s “dark side” surfaces

Bad temper is especially common when you are on a long flight. The longer you travel the more disruptions in your biological clock you can expect, which can lead to irritability. This is especially true among people who have a long-established daily routine from which you don't deviate much. Also, some people tend to get angry when they have absolute no control over a situation.

Fly in the morning if you’re scared

The heating of the ground later causes bumpier air, and it's much more likely to thunderstorm in the afternoon, according to one pilot from Los Angeles. Flying in the morning, or very late, is also helpful if you are looking for lower rates, fewer delays, and less crowded airports.

You can never technically die during a flight

This is a legal issue. People can only be presumed dead. Cabin crew are obliged to perform CPR unless it has continued for 30 minutes or longer with no signs of life within this period, and no shocks advised by an on board Automated External Defibrillator (AED), according to IATA. Only a doctor or an official local authority on the ground can declare someone dead.  

The tiny whole on the windows is very important

It keeps you safe at 36,000 feet. Cabins are pressurized. The pressure has to be contained, of course, but the cabin, obviously, cannot have any hole in it.

Sit near the wing for a smooth flight

Everybody knows that the bumpiest place to sit is usually in the back. A plane is like a seesaw, according to a pilot from Seattle. "If you're in the middle, you don't move as much." This is a good trick to use in mind if you want to sleep through the entire flight.

The safest place on a plane is the tail

Passengers near the tail of a plane are about 40 percent more likely to survive a crash than those in the first few rows up front, research has shown. People sitting in the back of a plane are 69 percent more likely to survive in the event of a crash; people at the front – 49 percent.

Jet lag is not a sleep problem

Jet lag, also known as "time zone change syndrome," is not a problem due to lack of sleep. It is a condition that actually results from an imbalance in the body's natural "biological clock" caused by traveling to different time zones. The 24-hour cycle, called the circadian rhythm, adjusts slowly when people travel to different time zones, resulting in feeling sleepy in the afternoon and staying awake in the middle of the night. 

The bathroom is not the dirtiest thing on a plane

Your tray table is the least hygienic part of a plane. During an experiment, microbiologists found more than 3,000 bacteria on a plane. Bring anti-bacterial wipes and wipe the tray down if you plan to use it along with your armrest. The next filthiest place is everything inside the seat pocket. The overhead air vents are among the worst offenders as well. 

Pilots are retraining all the time

Pilots are required to undergo "retraining" every six months. They don't just get a piece of paper that says they now have a degree and that's it. The go through aptitude and attitude assessments, psychological and competency tests, check rides, and emergency situations in a simulator. You can be sure that the pilots know their craft— both the plane and skills.

Phones cant’ really cause problems

Cell phones are actually not a safety risk. There is no hard evidence proving that they cause problems or interfere with the electronics on the plane. In fact, federal regulators are leaning toward allowing airline passengers to routinely make phone calls during flights, according to news reports.

Planes can fly with one engine

A twin engine plane can fly perfectly well on one engine, according to Flight Deck Friend. Losing an engine in flight is not a particularly serious problem; the pilots are trained to fly the aircraft should an engine fail. They would carry out a number of checklists to ensure the remaining engine is secure and safe, and then, as a precaution, they will land at a nearby suitable airport.

They can also land with none

An aircraft will glide if all its engines fail. The plane can fly through the movement of air passing over the wings. If both engines fail, the plane is no longer being pushed forwards and must exchange energy through losing altitude to maintain forward speed. Depending on how the plane was flying when the engines failed, it may have half an hour before it becomes necessary to land.

Hearing loss is possible, too

This may occur when an imbalance in the air pressure in the middle ear and air pressure in the environment prevents your eardrum from vibrating as it should, according to Mayo Clinic. Sounds can often range between 95 and 105 decibels, rising to 115 during takeoff. When a plane climbs or descends, the air pressure in the environment changes very quickly, and your ustachian tube doesn't react as fast.

Many airlines don’t serve peanuts

"With the recent increase of peanut allergies, many airlines have boycotted this original flight favorite," Cassandra Santoro from travelitalianstyle.com says. "However, there is no law against peanuts being served on planes. So if you have any allergy contact the airline and let them know about your condition," she adds.

Cosmic radiation

A 7-hour flight exposes you to the same amount of radiation as an X-ray. Two years ago a long-haul air passengers was feared to be at risk from dangerous cosmic rays coming from the sun. A subsequent investigation warned that a solar storm was likely to affect the general public if they are travelling by air on trans-oceanic routes.

Motion sickness is common

Motion sickness – when the body, the inner ear, and the eyes send contradictory signals to the brain – is fairly common, and often just a bother. The good news is that the more you travel, the more you get used to the motion. To reduce the chance of getting sick you should not read a book, turn the air vents toward your face, and rest your head against the seat.

Do planes dump human waste while flying?

This is probably the oldest legend in the book about flying. The contents of the lavatories cannot be discarded during a flight, according to pilots. At the end of a flight, the blue fluid, along with people's "contributions" to it, are vacuumed into a tank on the back of a truck, which dumps it elsewhere, but certainly not above the houses of unsuspecting residents.

Pilots and co-pilots must eat different meals

This is about passengers' safety. If a meal leads to upset stomach or food poisoning, the chances are that the other meal will be fine. So if one pilot is unable to perform his or her duties due to illness, the co-pilot will be able to take over. Many airlines encourage pilots to avoid raw fish and/or other risky foods.

Oxygen deprivation

Cabins are pressurized to 75 percent of the normal atmospheric pressure, a recent study says. Lower levels of oxygen in your blood can lead to hypoxia, which is deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues. Hypoxia presents symptoms such as euphoria, decreased reaction time, headache, and impaired judgment and vision, according to Flying Magazine.

Constipation is to be expected

What do you expect to happen when you're sitting down for hours at a time? The body is designed to move. If you don't give it what it needs, your metabolism and digestion will slow down due to inactivity. At the very least move your body as much as you can while sitting; try moving from side to side and get up at least once every hour.

There are 1.2+ million people in the air at any moment

Aviation data companies like FlightAware keep track of, among other things, flying planes. According to the company, as reported by Travel + Leisure, in 2016 there were an average of 9,728 planes — carrying 1,270,406 people — in the sky at any given time.