10 Things You Should Know Before Riding an Airplane

June 2, 2015

Commercial airlines have truly been a godsend for globetrotters, backpackers and business travelers. Deemed as one of the greatest discoveries and innovations in human history, these aerial vehicles have literally opened the world for exploration and business. With airplanes, courses that used to take a number of days, weeks or months will now only take a few hours.

Traveling can be quite a fun and exciting experience for any traveler. But sadly, the friendly skies that you used to know have become a bit less cozy and friendly, in the last couple of decades. High operation costs and skyrocketing fuel rates have significantly reduced the quality of services as well as lowered the number of flight routes provided by these airline companies. What’s more, most airline companies are hiding a ton of secrets to their passengers.

There are certain things that we should be aware of every time you travel via an airplane. Here are a few points or airline secrets that you should take note before you hop on an airplane.


1. You’re breathing a recycled engine air

Commercial airplanes are being pressurized at higher altitudes in order to stay “safe” at around 30,000 feet above sea level. The aircraft needs to be sealed, so that the pressure inside the cabin will be equal to the pressure of the atmosphere outside the airplane. The easiest way to accomplish this technique, though, is to gather air from the outside, and circulate it inside the cabin while disposing a certain amount of it at the tail of the airplane. The problem is, the air used to compress, which is  given to the passengers as oxygen, will pass first through the engines– known as the “bleed air”.

The airplane’s engines are composed of fumes that are needed to supply power the aircraft. Since the “bleed-air” needs to pass through the engine, some of the fumes may be added to the air, which will later on be a part of the cabin air.

Is that bad? Recent studies have suggested that oil from jet engine contains TCP (tricresyl phosphate), an organophosphate and a neurotoxin that is capable of damaging your peripheral and central nervous system.

On the bright side,  major aircraft manufacturers are now designing airplanes that do not use the “bleed air” system for cabin pressurization. Plus, most airplanes are now equipped with filters just like in hospitals in order to fight these chemicals that might damage our bodies. As a matter of fact, the company Boeing just recently showcased their bleed-less aircraft named as Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which reduce the possibility of air contamination.


2. There might be some bacteria in your coffee

Tea and coffees are mostly free when you ride in a commercial airplane. But, did you know that some cups of joe served inside an airplane aren’t clean?

During Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in ramp operations, Potable Water (Drinking Water) and Lavatory (Puss) are serviced simultaneously. First is water, and then next are the dirty things. Their trucks are also not allowed to be near to each other. But, there are circumstances like delayed flights and bad weather that can change their ground operations.

If drinking water and the lavatory are serviced at the same time, there will be a high chance of contamination for the drinking water because of the airborne bacteria that is being released by the lavatory servicing.

Next time, just order your coffee or tea in a can or unopened bottle. That’s it!


3. Airliners use bogus parts too!

There are plenty of airline companies today that are cutting corners by using recycled parts (a.k.a Bogus Parts) from crashed aircraft. Numerous aircraft accidents in the past have occurred because of these unethical tactics, just like what happened to Convair 580 and Value Jet’s DC-9 Flight 592. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has already been alarmed about this issue, and they are hunting down all the suppliers of these bogus parts as we speak.


4. Our pets might be suffering

When in idle mode, aircraft engines create high pitched sounds that can irritate a human ear as well as the hearing senses of other animals. That’s why airmen are required to put on ear plugs, ear muffs or both.  But, what about your pets?

The extreme environment in a busy airport has more than 100 decibels, while a thunderstorm has around 120 db. If your dogs can not handle the extreme sound of a thunder, then what about in the airport?

It’s not just noise, but the temperatures also. If your flight is mid-summer at noon, then it would be really harmful for your pets to stay in the cargo hold. After all, the biggest risk in transporting pets on aircraft is heat.

For the past decade, 19 American airline companies have encountered 465 pet incidents, ranging from dogs, cats and birds. Some pets tend to escape due to anxiety as well! In order to fight this, there are major airline companies that are allowing pets to be boarded on the cabin. What’s more, some airline companies are currently offering commercial flights that are entirely for pets!

By the way, you can check this article on how to handle your pet travels.


5. Sometimes both pilots in the airplane are sleeping

A typical commercial jet airliner has a couple or three people working in the cockpit, including the Captain, First Officer (F/O) and the Flight Engineer. In most cases, there are only the Captain and F/O. A long flight can be quite a tiring journey for both pilots, which is why they are allowed to take naps and breaks. But, in some cases, both of the pilots fell asleep and incidents may happen.

A research  was conducted by BALPA (British Airline Pilots Association) showed that out of the 56% who admitted to be sleeping, 29% of them also found out that their co-pilot to be asleep as well. What if there is an emergency at those times?


6. They literally throw your bags!

For ramp officers, servicing an airplane on the ramp in less than an hour, with a few man power and equipment, can be quite a stressful job . If they will move ‘carefully’, then the entire flight might be delayed and worse, every passengers will complain. So, the only solution for this is to move faster, and to do their jobs at much a quicker pace than unusual. That is why some of your luggage might be damaged or ‘mishandled’. Just keep all the receipts of your belongings that are in the bag in your possession.

Take a look at this example, a typical Airbus A320 is a small commercial aircraft that does not allow baggage loaders. It is only the strength of ramp officers that make your bags inside the oven-like compartment. First, the bags must be unloaded as fast as 15-20 minutes, and in order to reach that time limit, the travel bags must be thrown because there are no machines to help them. The next is another set with hundreds of bags that will arrive after a few minutes of rest.

If ever you have problems after the flight, you can check out this article on how they handled a lost and damaged bag issues.


7. Ticket prices may change based on your cookies and browsing history

Some travelers prefer to buy tickets online. It’s easier and hassle free. Just visit your airline company’s official website, search your preferred destination and every detail will just pop out!

But according to some studies, these ticket prices may change according to your internet browsing history, or also called as “cookies”. This strategy is termed as “Dynamic Pricing”. They will check your past web interactions, and make a new ticket price just for you. Lovely, isn’t it?

There have been a number of reported cases regarding this, such as this example created by Johnnyjet.com , which was based on their experience.


8. Put in your oxygen masks as fast as possible

When push comes to shove, the Aircraft will automatically disengage the Emergency Oxygen System. This will give us access to oxygen masks that will only give us a 15-20 minutes of oxygen supply. And we only have 15-20 seconds to get a hold of these life-saving tools before we pass out, and experiencing hypoxia. Research says that you should put mask on yourself first before the others, so that you can help them if anything wrong happens. This is the main reason why commercial aircraft must be pressurized at higher altitudes!

But let us not be worried, because the pilots can descend the aircraft down to a safer level before the 15 minutes limit will pass out. Just to be sure, let us be quick every time the oxygen mask disengages during flight.


9. Be alert and report any unusual events

Most pilots in a large aircraft can only see the instruments in the cockpit. Major airplane parts such as wings, engines and flight controls can only be seen by the passengers while midair. If you see something that is “off” while flying, it is best that you tell the flight attendants regarding the situation. It could be a little smoke, a suspicious person beside you holding a grenade, an alligator under your seat, or something major like an engine fire! It is because it could be one of the turning events in your life.

One example is Flight 092 a.k.s. Kegworth air disaster with a B737-400 aircraft. The accident might have been prevented if the passengers reported that the Captain’s announcement was a bit different on what they saw.


10. Be thankful that ostriches do not fly

Bird strikes (where birds hit the aircraft, especially engines) has been one of the major cause of aircraft incidents in the past decades. But as of today, it is being lessened due to the improving technology in our planet.

Airplane manufacturers have infused state-of-the-art designs into the engines, so that birds will avoid the engine miles away. In addition, most airports train hawks and eagles to drive smaller birds away from the runway. But what about ostriches? We should be thankful that these kind of birds do not fly, or else, just one ostrich is enough to destroy one peaceful flight. Now, all you need to worry is the Jet Lag that might hit you after flight!


This is a guest post from Best of World Travel

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Ashley Thompson
A fun size lass born in rock and roll who dreams to become a rock star, or a world traveler, or both.
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