Air travel is an exciting time for most. From finally spending that long awaited holiday with your loved ones or the prospect of a potential business opportunity, air travel has brought the world closer than ever before. It constantly exceeds expectations, whether it be the introduction of a new high-tech aircraft, a new flight route, or simply cutting down the travel time between two destinations. Aviation is always, and will always improve, as well as becoming more advanced technology wise (in the cockpit, obviously).
With all of this in mind, working in the aviation industry doesn’t sound like a bad gig, there is a constant demand for work, growth prospects, job progression and you get to discover new cities. From personal experience, I have seen the flight crew from my flight check-in to the same hotel as me on many occasions, and at no time did I see anything other than a smile. I was actually fortunate enough to speak with an air hostess about her job and schedule. She told me that in that particular month, she was going to travel back and forth to 5 different cities, spending a day between flights in each. Seems like the dream job, right? Well, to an extent. There is some information that flight crews, especially pilots, keep to themselves, ranging from various in-flight signals to amenities you will come across on your next flight.
In this article, we explore 19 secrets that pilots want to be kept on the DL. Buckle-up, things could get weird…let’s find out.
19 Coffee is a ‘no-go zone’
A former pilot has told Independent UK that passengers should stay away from airline coffee. Despite some cheap airlines, coffee and tea being the only complimentary refreshment on offer, this pilot and many others have warned against it. He says the water they use with the coffee has chemicals in it, to prevent harmful bacteria from growing mid-flight, so this is why airline coffee doesn’t taste so great. Let’s be honest, the airplane lavatory isn’t the best place to spend time, so it’s worth politely declining coffee simply to prevent your body from disagreeing with any chemicals, and thus using the lavatory one more time than you have to.
18 Fuel watch
As is the case with any business, airlines are always looking to cut or limit costs. A pilot, who wished to remain anonymous, reported to Smarter Travel that during his 360-point pre-flight checks, he is always pressured by ground staff to carry just enough fuel to reach the destination…in perfect conditions. He said that if the flight hits unexpected bad weather or is delayed in the air for whatever reason, then sometimes he has no choice but to land at a different airport. Passengers may not be aware of this (apart from when they are told they’re arriving at a different airport), but it is worrying to know that this happens more regularly than expected.
17 Morning is better
One of the best kept secrets from the public, Slice says morning flights are the smoothest. Yes, it means you have to set your alarm for the crack of dawn, or earlier…however, it’s a small price to pay for the benefits. Morning flights not only get you to your destination earlier so you have more time to enjoy it, but there are far-less turbulence and noticeably less wind, meaning a more relaxed flight.
16 Ain’t got time for lunch
List 25 says that sometimes, pilots do not get a lunch break, or are simply not given time to eat from their respective airlines. One pilot has said on many occasions, he and his first-officer were forced to delay their flight just so they could leave the aircraft and quickly grab some food. Now we all respect pilots and their ability to get us from point A to point B, but no one should be skipping meals. We understand that maybe they might not like airplane food like the rest of us, but they should always make time for three square meals a day.
15 Are we there yet?
In an interview with Quora, a pilot, currently in service for a major US airline, has leaked a major secret that may alarm some passengers. He says that on most regional and some longer-domestic flights, the flight instruments can only display the speed and altitude of the plane, meaning that most of the time, while mid-flight, the pilots couldn’t tell you where you are, aside from how far away the destination is. He reassures passengers that they have heightened situational awareness, so there is no need to worry about a thing.
14 Prime seats revealed
If you want a taste of business or first class, but don’t have money growing on trees, then sitting in a seat close to the vicinity of the wings is the best place. Tripsavvy reports the cabin air flows from front to back, and so being seated not right at the front, but near the wings is optimal for this. Also, these seats experience less affects from turbulence, making them perfect for those nervous souls.
13 Don’t drive (or fly) tired
Reader's Digest informs passengers of a startling prospect. Pilots can work some long hours, sometimes even spanning a full 7-days of 12 hours per day. While airlines are constantly trying to find ways to reduce pilot fatigue, it is only human to become tired quickly whilst concentrating, especially with the lives of 250 people in your hands. This is why it is not uncommon for pilots to have a quick power-nap, or as they call it, a catnap, to catch up on some much-needed rest. Rest assured though, this does not pose as a safety threat to us, passengers.
12 Mission impossible
Most people are afraid of flying due to the possibility of crashing due to turbulence. However, List 25 has been told by a pilot that there is a next to 0% chance of a plane crash as a result of turbulence. He said that pilots try to avoid turbulence simply because it is annoying and causes inconvenience for both the flight crew and passengers and not because they are afraid something problematic will occur.
11 Break it down
Pilots won’t tell you this, and probably for good reason. Aircraft break-downs are quite frequent, as is the case with any high-tech machine. Slice says that thanks to thorough checks, frequent maintenance, and ongoing training, these problems are fixed at an early stage, before they become a threat to lives either in the air or on the ground, and nobody behind the cockpit door will ever know...oooooh.
10 Different food
Pilots actually don’t eat the same food as the rest of the plane, per Independent UK. It is said they are served different meals to prevent a food poisoning incident…but then again, passengers don’t want to fall ill with food poisoning either! In all seriousness though, I would rather contract food poisoning than the pilot, for, well, obvious reasons like I don’t know, I get to live.
9 Fasten your seat belt
A pilot told Quora that when the seat belt sign is illuminated for a prolonged period of time, it is no cause for concern. As travelers, we know that we must obey the fasten seatbelt sign, as it could prevent injury if there is unexpected turbulence. On the contrary, this pilot has said some of his colleagues just forget to turn it off, or if there is some bumpy air ahead, they will just leave it lit as appose to turning it off, people moving around and then 5 minutes later, turning it back on again. At the end of the day, it is better to be safe than sorry.
If you are one of those people who has to tell everyone what you think of their service, pilots would like to hear from you at the end of the flight. In your travels, you may have come across pilots joining the cabin crew to say thank you and goodbye when we are disembarking the aircraft. Major airline pilot, Joe D’Eon, informed Tripsavvy that if you enjoyed the flight, more specifically, a smooth landing, is it encouraged to commend them on a top-notch landing.
7 Less-qualified pilots?
Yep, you read that correctly. According to a current pilot who was interviewed by Reader’s Digest, regional airline pilots are not legally required to have the same training and experience as longer-domestic pilots. He also warns that even though you may have booked your flight on a well-known airline website when the time comes for your flight, you may not actually be flying with that airline.
6 Bumpy landing
Speaking of landings, Slice says if you happen to experience a rough landing and the conditions are wet, then it is more than likely a safety measure. If a pilot lands the plane hard on the tarmac, there is a highly reduced chance that the plane will skid off the runway. Of course, we all want a smooth landing, but sometimes physics doesn’t allow for it.
5 Stow your technology
This doesn’t just go for phones, other technologies such as laptops and tablets are required to be stowed, not because of a signal interruption risk, but a safety precaution. If for some reason, there is an emergency, a laptop that has been left loose can fly and hit someone at enormous speeds. Reader's Digest also says taking out your headphones for the final stages of landing is not to ruin your fun, but to perhaps save your life.
4 Being on-time beats getting everyone there safely
In the US, airlines have prioritized time over lives. That’s right, Reader's Digest suggests the Department of Transport has stressed being on-time as number one priority, that they have dropped safety measures down to second. A commercial airline pilot in Atlanta said airlines have now extended their arrival times for flights, even though they know each flight doesn’t take that long. For example, a flight lasting 1 hour 45 minutes, has now been officially extended to 2 hours, despite there still being a 15-minute gap between real flight time and estimated flight time. This is to prevent a growing number of ‘delayed’ flights and ultimately maintaining a better on-time arrival record.
3 Too cold? So are we!
According to List 25, pilots are continuously asking the cabin crew to turn the air-conditioning down. One pilot has said the cabin crew is always moving, whereas passengers and pilots are sitting still and therefore are usually not as hot. Of course, we can adjust the settings above out seat, but it seems the pilots are stuck with a central cooling system.
2 Many Mid-air Scares
Although it doesn’t happen often at all, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. The Independent UK says that when a pilot is having some mid-air troubles, they will leave the wing flaps erect, in order to slow the aircraft down. Not only does it slow the plane, but it subtly alerts air traffic control that something isn’t quite right. Should there be any sudden emergencies on a flight, pilots have many subvert ways to notify the people on the ground to prepare for an emergency landing.
1 Weapons on a plane
In the US, pilots, legally, are allowed and actually encouraged to carry guns in the cockpit. This is a bit of an odd one, and most people are unaware of pilots carrying guns. It is a bit scary to know that the person who has your life in their lands carry’s a gun, however, they must pass some of the most arduous tests and training, and of course, an in-depth screening before they are allowed to do so, per Quora.