Secrets airline crew will never tell you

Aletha Wilkinson

An Ask Reddit thread discussed the things flight attendants, pilots and other airline staff don't tell their passengers, and the results were fascinating to say the least.

Read on to discover what's really going on behind that little curtain up front!

'Thank you for the chocolates, madam. Your upgrade is on its way.' Source: Getty

Some airlines don't pay pilots or flight attendants for flights that cancel. Which doesn't sound so bad until you start thinking about the safety implications of it.
A little short on the rent this month? Then I don't see that hydraulic leak, I can't afford to have the flight cancel.
Child needs to see the doctor? Maybe I don't report the torn up carpet that you might trip on in an evacuation, because carpet takes too long to replace--so the flight would cancel.
...not saying this happens all the time, because most crews are true professionals and can put their job ahead of their paycheck, but it happens enough to give you the goosebumps. Throw in some seriously low pay (sub $20K a year for many first year pilots) and you've got a subtle incentive to overlook safety issues.

If you give us Flight Attendants your magazines, we will love you!

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.

I have a friend who's a commercial pilot. Around five years ago he was doing a flight from LA to Tokyo when an anonymous caller phoned in a bomb threat while they were over the middle of the Pacific. Apparently they have procedures for this kind of thing, but there was nothing anyone could do in this situation except stay calm and not alert the passengers (obviously). He said for the rest of the flight every bump of turbulence made his adrenaline spike. They took this case especially seriously because there was a group of foreign dignitaries sitting in the first class cabin.

When you experience a hard landing in bad weather it wasn't because of a lack of pilot skills but it is in fact intentional. If the runway is covered in water the airplane has to touch down hard in order to puncture the water layer and prevent aqua planing.

My dad works for a large airline, he told me a few little things

  • 2 Pilots are served different meals and cannot share, this is done in case of food poisoning.
  • Stealing food, even if they are going to throw it out can get you fired instantly. You can ask your supervisor, but you cannot take food. They don't want people messing with it.
  • Most large commercial planes can fly with 1 engine if needed.


'Here are your grapes. Wish I could have one.' Source: Getty

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.

Mobile electronic devices won't really bring an airplane down but they can be really annoying to pilots. Just imagine sitting in the flightdeck descending to your destination and hearing the interference of a 100+ cellphones picking up a signal. I have missed a clearance or 2 that way.

'Please switch off your phones. Only because they get on the Captain's nerves.' Source: Getty

Aluminium, unlike steel, doesn't have a lower stress limit for fatigue cracking. In layman's terms this means that whenever you apply load to it, it cracks. Planes are designed so that under normal loads the cracks are microscopic, but they'll always be there and they grow with repeated stress cycles i.e. Every time the plane is flown the cracks grow. Maintenance crews are responsible for knowing where they are on each individual plane and tracking their growth. (Source is my Mechanical Engineering professor from college days)

'Sit back, relax, and don't think about the tiny hairline cracks all over the fuselage.' Source: Getty

I was a ramp agent for Delta. A lot of freight gets shipped on commercial flights.

One of these items were always called HR on the radios. HR was an abbreviation for 'Human Remains'. Some people die far away from where they want to get buried. They're packed in wood-framed boxes, so you would never know what was inside except by the strange shape of them.

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.

'The Champagne and the oxygen are complimentary.' Source: Getty

Bring an unopened bag of or box of chocolates for the flight crew, especially long flights...they'll treat you like a king for the whole flight.

Arm Rests - aisle and window seat : Run your hand along the underside of the armrest, just shy of the joint you'll feel a button. Push it, and it will lift up. Adds a ton of room to the window seat and makes getting out of the aisle a helluva lot easier. :)

That 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.

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