Have you ever taken a moment to think about what's really all around you when you're sitting in your comfy chair aboard a sleek airliner?
Airliners are odd. If you take a moment to think about the fact that this huge, heavy metal object filled with hundreds of people, all their luggage, tons of fuel and four giant engines somehow gracefully flies through the sky, you'll be pretty amazed. But what's even more odd are some the places found on the airplane itself!
For instance, did you know that there's an attic? There is, and it's not used for anything! There are also huge wheel wells where stowaways sometimes hideout and the aircrew have an entire floor filled with bunk beds!
Now you're thinking about all those odd places that you've never seen, and as you ponder the attic on a giant metal tube flying through the air, take a moment to reflect on the fact that the seat you're sitting in is the single dirtiest place on the flight. That fold-down tray in front of you? That's the second dirtiest thing. It's disgusting! But not everything on an airplane is swarming with bacteria.
In another odd airliner-only feature, the washrooms are the cleanest places on board! The cockpit is very clean and its cleanliness is governed by a set of international rules. That serving trolley which takes forever to get to you is extremely clean, and if the thought of germy seats terrifies you, just crawl into the overhead luggage compartment above you; it's one of the cleanest places on board!
Enjoy this list of 10 odd places on an airplane, and the 10 cleanest places.
20 Odd Place: The Wheel Wells
Two wells are under the wings, and a third is under the nose of the aircraft. Airliner wheels tuck into their respective wheel wells immediately after takeoff to reduce drag, and these wells offer a little bit of space between the wheel and the walls. The nose well is rather spacious, and one or more people can easily squeeze into this space when the wheel is up.
You won't want to try this, though. There is neither oxygen nor warmth in this small space, making it one of the most inhospitable places a person can go on an airplane.
19 Odd Place: Pet Storage
If you're one of those people who just NEEDS to bring Fluffy the Pooch with you on your flight to visit your aunt in San Diego, then you may be surprised to learn that your dog will be stacked on top of other dogs and cats and jammed into a space next to the luggage compartment.
The pet storage area of the airplane is technically the luggage compartment, but because it is set aside and stuffed with pets, that makes it a unique, noisy, and often smelly place on the airplane. If you don't want Fluffy to end up here, leave her at home.
18 Clean Place: The Coat Closet
While boarding the airplane, have you ever noticed the tiny closet crammed into the side of the fuselage near the bulkhead wall? It's generally used to store suits, bulky winter outerwear and the like, just like any normal closet would, but on closer inspection, you will notice that this isn't any ordinary closet.
The closet doesn't see much passenger traffic, meaning there isn't much opportunity for bugs and dirt to get in. Tests have shown that the coat closet is relatively sanitized and even when there's a fold-down seat for flight crew during takeoff and landing, the closet remains squeaky clean!
17 Clean Place: The Serving Trolley
It makes sense that the little cart the flight attendants use to serve food and drinks would be clean and relatively germ-free. Flight crew wipes the trolley down with disinfectant several times per flight to make sure that the food they serve isn't contaminated.
This doesn't mean that it stays clean, however. The dirtiest seats on the aircraft are aisle seats, and armrests are bacteria-magnets, so as the trolley meanders down the aisle, stopping at each row, you can be certain that it's picking up germs along the way. The best seat is the one closest to the galley!
16 Odd Place: Secret Crew Quarters
Did you ever wonder where the flight crew slept on those long-haul flights? If you have, you may be surprised to learn that they don't get stuck in uncomfortable seats like the rest of the passengers, but instead of their own room with bunks, usually accessible by a ladder.
Most of these crew quarters are rather spartan, but the flight attendants who are lucky enough to work on Emirates or Lufthansa, for example, are treated to some rather comfortable sleeping areas! As a passenger you'll never get to see these places, making them a rather curious, and odd, part of the airplane!
15 Odd Place: The Electronics Room
Okay so who knows what it's really called by industry insiders, but underneath the cockpit, and above the nose wheel well, there's a room filled with all the servers, wires and computers that keep the plane operating. For all intents and purposes, it is an electronics room.
It is usually only accessible by ladder, often through a little trap door in the floor near the cockpit but some aircraft have nice stairs or even elevators that can take the crew down there. This stuffy, buzzing, undecorated little room with no view is definitely an odd place to be on an airplane!
14 Clean Place: Overhead Storage Bins
According to news.com.au, the dirtiest thing you can touch on an airplane is the tray table. The second dirtiest things are the armrests. That makes your seat a living zoo of bacteria and germs. If you want to escape the inevitable airplane-flu from all those bacteria, take a nap in the overhead luggage compartment!
Don't actually climb into the overhead compartment, because you'll be arrested, but overhead luggage bins are relatively clean and germ-free, so you know that at least your carry-on underwear and socks will be fresh for you when you arrive at your destination!
13 Clean Place: The Luggage Compartment
Many of the odd places on the aircraft are also some of the cleanest, and the luggage compartment is in that club. While the area of the luggage compartment where the pets are housed definitely isn't clean, just next to it the suitcases, parcels, crates, and other sundry goods are neatly stacked and secured in a sterile, metallic, space-age area of the plane.
This part of the plane is clean and in test after test, there were minuscule amounts of bacteria found here. During stopovers, cleaning crews do an efficient job of sweeping and disinfecting. Just don't wander over to the pet storage section.
12 Odd Place: The Cockpit
When you stop to think about it, the cockpit is an extremely odd place. Two people are strapped onto seats and surrounded by gigantic panels covered in hundreds of twinkling lights and gauges and buttons and levers. They are somehow expected to pilot a massive metal tube while looking out a thin ribbon of window to their front and sides.
The ubiquitous cockpit setup hasn't changed since the 1930s, only the technology has. When you think about it, the cockpit is an odd, surreal world in which only a few qualified individuals will ever really need to spend time in!
11 Odd Place: The Tail Attic
At the back of the aircraft, where the fuselage meets the huge tail, there is a space called simply "the attic". It isn't used for storage or electronics or anything mechanical, and the crew never venture there, although it is accessible by a narrow flight of metal stairs. This space is the result of the basic engineering of the aircraft, and during maintenance and safety checks it plays a vital role, allowing inspectors access to a key part of the aircraft.
For the average passenger, however, the attic is completely useless, kind of weird and also really cool!
10 Clean Place: First Class Sleeping Rooms
For those rich enough to fly in pure luxury as a first class passenger on Air Emirates or Pacific Cathay, there are beautiful, cozy, tasteful private bedrooms available. Imagine sinking into the soft comfort of a down-filled mattress while scented flowers fill the air with a beautiful bouquet. When turbulence hits while you're watching your 4K TV, simply strap the big belt across your belly and enjoy.
These extreme first-class quarters are also extremely clean. The cleaning staff and aircrew are experts at making sure every nook and cranny is dust and germ-free.
9 Clean Place: Windows
Before any passengers board the plane, the cleaning crew wipes down as much as possible, including the windows. This means that the windows are relatively clean and germ-free when you sit down next to it, and because you're the only person who is going to be sitting there for the duration of the flight, the only germs that will make it to the window are the ones you put there.
Now, if you switch seats with someone, or you're lucky enough to have a rambunctious child next to you who insists on looking out the window, then none of this applies.
8 Odd Place: The Pilot's Washroom
Imagine being mashed into a claustrophobic cockpit for endless hours, surrounded by blinking lights and looking out at the night sky as the airplane's computers fly the craft by themselves. There will come a moment when you suddenly need to get up, stretch your legs a little, and use the potty.
Pilots don't have the luxury of waiting in line for a free bathroom. When they need to go, they need to go immediately and get back to the cockpit. That's why pilots have their very own tiny little toilet jammed into a closet right next to the cockpit door. That's odd!
7 Odd Place: Baby Storage
We all know that our loveable pets get jammed into the luggage compartment, but have you ever seen an airliners baby storage? Unlike the pets, babies get strapped to the wall. These strange little beds are attached to the bulkhead walls and during takeoff, landing, and turbulence they swing down, allowing babies to strapped into them for safety.
Babies don't really seem to care where they're plopped down, so long as they know their parents are nearby. Onlookers, meanwhile, may be shocked to see a gurgling baby strapped down to a shelf hanging off the wall of the airplane!
6 Clean Place: Bulkhead Seats
Plenty of legroom. First one off the plane. Right next to the galley and the washrooms. What's not to like about bulkhead seating? You can add "one of the cleanest seats on the airplane" to the list of positives.
According to The Washington Post, the bulkhead seats were several times cleaner than the seats at the back of the plane or in the middle. If you want a comfortable, roomy and clean flight, make sure to book these awesome seats. So what if you don't get a small TV screen four inches from your face?
5 Clean Place: The Galley
Normies (that's us) call it a kitchen, but for sailors and flight crew, it's "the galley". This is where those weird trays of sometimes-delicious food are heated, assembled and slid into shelves on the serving trolley. Tea and coffee are brewed here, little packs of nuts are held in containers and, somewhere, there's a fully-stocked bar. You'll often find the flight attendants buzzing around, hanging out here while trying to avoid getting the attention of a needy passenger.
This area is cleaned constantly with disinfectant and during tests, it turns out to be one of the cleanest, if cramped, areas on the entire airplane!
4 Odd Place: The Luggage Compartment
Right next to the rather upset pets jammed into the rear of the aircraft sits the luggage compartment. This is where all the passenger suitcases are loaded, strapped together to keep them from flying around, and forgotten about until they are unloaded at the next stop.
The luggage compartment has conveyor belts, shiny metal floors (and walls, and ceilings), and straps and soft white lights. On Airbus' this compartment looks more like something on the International Space Station than a commercial passenger jet! What makes this place even odder is the sound of barking and meowing coming from the pets.
3 Odd Place: First-Class Seat Cubicles
In an effort to attract even more high-paying premium customers, airlines have been rolling out all sorts of odd gimmicks in first class. One of the weirdest is a cubicle that folds together, giving the passenger privacy and comfort in a fold-out lay-z-boy type chair. The flight attendants can lean over the walls to serve the pampered guest, although who wants a hot cup of coffee balanced precariously over their head while the plane bounces around through turbulence?
Some flights even offer wood-paneling in their cubicles, giving a real mid-1960s feel to the flight, making the entire thing is not only odd but completely anachronistic, too!
2 Clean Place: The Cockpit
Another of the odd places on an airplane is also one of the cleanest. There's a reason for that: international agreements and the FAA have a "Sterile Cockpit Rule". This rule was put in place to stop pilots from being distracted by chatty flight attendants or coffee spilled on sensitive electronic equipment. This means flight crews can't eat or drink in the cockpit and neither flight attendants nor passengers can enter the cockpit while the aircraft is in flight.
The cockpit is kept clean, sanitized and sterile in order for equipment to function and pilots to fly the plane distraction-free, making the cockpit the most sterile place on the airplane!
1 Clean Place: Washrooms
Believe or not, but in test after test, the washrooms on the airplane have turned out to be the cleanest and most bacteria-free area of the airplane! This could be partly because the washrooms are constantly cleaned with powerful sanitizers, both during flights and in-between. The washrooms use a lot of aluminum and steel, materials that are unfriendly to bacteria and germs. And don't forget the heavily-sanitized air that blows into that tiny space!
If you really want to have a germ-free flight and don't mind losing some leg room, just lock yourself in the washroom and enjoy! Just kidding. Don't do that.