Flying has become part of our daily lives because the cost to travel has become more reasonable with the passage of time. Long gone are the days in which someone has to be pretty wealthy to board a plane. It’s pretty normal for the average person to travel by air at some point in their lives. In fact, most of us will travel quite a bit by plane throughout our lives, whether it be for personal or business reasons. Either way, most of the world is familiar with air travel. But maybe not to the extent that we think.
There are a lot of things that go on at airports that we are simply not privy to. Flight crew members, pilots and security personnel all have their secrets about the industry that we never get to see or experience. But there’s definitely a different world behind the curtains of an airline.
From the terrible treatment of our luggage to the real reasons behind strict gate closures, and even a few things we'd prefer to stay oblivious to, here are twenty-five behind the scenes facts at airports that will give you a different perspective into the realities of flying.
25 Airline Employees Get Away With A Lot
Once employee personnel have made it past security and inside the airport, it’s surprising to find that so many of them are able to get away with quite a bit. This is due to having minimal supervision at times which frees them up to do what they want with all of their time on the job.
It’s a fairly common occurrence for airline employees to sleep on the job, allow peers to make it through security with ease or flat out break rules for their own entertainment.
This isn’t to say that employees don’t do their jobs, but they certainly get a lot of freedom.
24 There Are Ways to Bypass the Carry-On Liquid Rule
For those who are looking to get liquids onto a plane via their carry-on bags, there’s a small trick that just may work. Most people are fully aware of the fact that any liquid in a container over 3.4 ounces is going to be confiscated pretty quickly, but there are plenty of examples of passengers gaming the system in a pretty genius way.
For those who really want their liquids on the plane with them, freezing it before attempting to get through security should do the trick as it is no longer technically a liquid, but now a solid.
23 First Class Amenities Aren’t Always Exactly First Class
When we think of first class, images of the best amenities come to mind. Passengers pay all that money to receive great extras like the warm towels and full meals. Not many will argue that the features that come with a first class ticket aren’t great, but those who are forking over that kind of money would be displeased to find that a lot of those amenities aren’t quite what they seem.
It’s not uncommon for flight crews to simply reuse pillows and blankets for the sake of not having to switch them out for the next flight. It has to be a bit upsetting to know that a thousand dollar ticket included a pillow with the previous passenger’s sweat on it.
22 The Cleaning Walk-Throughs Are Less Than Thorough
After each flight is over and passengers have deboarded, flight crews are required to go through the plane and do their cleaning walk-throughs to ensure the airplane is ready to go for the next flight. Making sure the plane is clean of any mess or items left were behind is a given so that those boarding for the next flight have a great experience.
Unfortunately, it’s a pretty normal occurrence for flight teams to simply wait on the plane, relax and stall for time without doing much as far as cleaning goes. If you ever find a used cup in the seatback when you get to your seat, you’ll know why.
21 There’s a Good Chance You’re Flying with an Air Marshal
Most of our knowledge of air marshals comes from their appearances in movies. Hopefully, that will always be the only interaction we have with them as their involvement while onboard a plane means trouble is brewing.
The reality is that with over 5,000 air marshals in the United States, there’s a pretty decent chance that one of them is on a plane with you, blending in as a regular passenger, ready to take action if necessary.
20 You’d Be Surprised What You Can Bring On Board
With so many rules and regulations in place to prevent travelers from bringing dangerous items on board, it’s really surprising what passengers are allowed to bring on to a plane.
We aren’t allowed to bring a 3.5-ounce bottle of lotion on to a plane, but we can actually board with a screwdriver as long as it’s a small one.
We are also allowed to bring a pair of scissors with us on board as long as it fits certain criteria. Of course, regulations have become stricter, but it’s still pretty surprising to find out what is allowed on a plane in 2018. Although the items confiscated by TSA have gotten weirder with time.
19 Pilots Aren’t Allowed to do Much in the CockPit
Legally, there are quite a few restrictions for pilots when they are in the cockpit. The law essentially states they cannot have any distractions while flying which makes sense. But this means that they aren’t allowed to do the things we probably see as second nature activities – no magazines, no using their phones, no taking naps or listening to music.
This means they are pretty much limited to the Captain and First Officer conversing with one another as their only source of entertainment while flying.
18 Pilots Eat Different Meals
Ensuring that pilots are safe and ready to fly is paramount to the safety of each passenger. A little-known secret is the dietary needs of the pilots playing a big role in their availability.
Each pilot eats different meals to minimize the risk of both of them becoming ill by eating the same foods. If one meal causes something like food poisoning, the different plates ensure that only one pilot falls ill, leaving the second ready to go. It’s the same concept as not allowing CEOs of the same company to fly on the same plane. It’s simply a little insurance for the safety of all.
17 Gate Closures are Final for a Reason
We have all seen the family or lone flyer being turned away at the gate, not allowed to board because they arrived right after the doors closed. And it’s pretty normal for us to sympathize with them and wonder why they simply cannot let them in since the plane is still sitting on the runway and shows no signs of going anywhere for some time.
The reality is that after the gates have closed, there have been a number of check processes that have taken place by the flight crew. Re-opening the gates for just one person means having to complete all of their checks again which would cause delays for the flight take off which could have a domino effect on connecting flights and others missing their planes later on in the day.
16 Flight Delays Are Sometimes Caused by the Craziest Reasons
When we think of our flights being delayed, we often think of things like plane maintenance or weather hazards. Those are definitely familiar reasons for why we have to wait to board our planes or even sit patiently in our seats out on the runway. But many of us are not aware of the fact that sometimes planes are delayed for the craziest reasons caused by human mistakes or downright irresponsible acts.
There are known instances of airport workers being the culprits of a delay for things such as crashing the runway baggage cart into the plane or for falling asleep on the job and not performing a necessary check before the plane departs. It’s hard to believe, but mistakes like this have caused flyers to miss connecting flights or have to book a hotel for the night.
15 Your Luggage Is Treated Terribly
It should come as no surprise, but it needs to be said. Luggage is treated horribly by baggage handlers who are more concerned with getting it on to the plane rather than making sure it’s properly moved and placed where it needs to go. Although baggage handlers and their bosses understand the importance of personal property, it simply does not make financial sense for airlines to place a huge emphasis on it. If all employees were to take their time with each bag, the delays would be off the charts, costing airlines millions in lost dollars while the cost of replacing a piece of luggage from time to time is simply more cost effective.
14 It’s Not as Difficult to Get Hired as Most Would Think
Airports throughout the world, most especially in the United States, place such a huge emphasis on security. It’s surprisingly easy to get hired to work at one. Passengers are put through the wringer when making their way through an airport so it’s easy to imagine why most of would think employees have to go through stringent hoops to get a job at an airport.
The reality is the vast majority of airports simply perform routine background checks like most other jobs.
13 Airport Workers Don’t Have to Go Through the Same Hassle We Do
Employees don’t have to go through the wringer to get hired there and they also don’t have to navigate their way through the same hassle we do when getting through airport security.
For the average passenger, this is often the most strenuous part with shoe removals, luggage rearrangements, and clearing out our pockets and bags.
Employees have revealed that they don’t have to go through nearly as much when checking in for work with security employing much more relaxed guidelines for their peers.
12 The Whole ID Thing is Overblown
We’ve all heard how stringent the rules are when it comes to getting past TSA.
One of the golden rules is never forgetting your ID or you won’t be allowed to board your plane under any circumstances. But that's not quite true.
Although leaving your ID behind is never a good idea and can only mean a headache once you try to get past security, it is not entirely unheard of to still make it through. TSA has plenty of systems they can use to identify each person that they come across, so there’s always a way, but sometimes it’s just a matter of luck. More times than not, they are going to work with you.
11 It Isn’t True that You Cannot Take Pictures While Going Through Security
There’s a myth out there that states you absolutely cannot take any pictures while going through the security checkpoint. The bigger question is why anyone would like to snap a photo during such a hectic time, but if that is a desire, it’s something that is pretty much allowed. The only stipulations are to make sure that pictures of the security screens are not snapped and the photo ops aren’t holding up the line. Follow these rules and there shouldn’t be many issues.
10 Fly on a Tuesday
We get it. Everyone flies on the weekends because that’s when it’s most convenient for the average person who works during the week. Most travelers fly on weekends which drive up the price of a ticket explaining why it’s most expensive to travel then. If schedules allow though, it’s probably best to look into ticket prices on a Tuesday which are historically the cheapest days for travel.
If you want to take the savings to the next level, purchase your Tuesday ticket during off hours like in the very early AM or during red-eye hours.
9 Pilots Do More Than Talk
There’s a huge misconception that pilots have the luxury of sitting in the cockpit and talking for most of the flight with so much of airplane functionality now automated.
While it is true that flying is a lot less manual today than it used to be in year’s past, it’s not true that pilots simply spend most of their time talking without much else to do.
They still have to account for navigation issues, changes in flight routes, fuel monitoring, communication with the control towers and most importantly, the landings and takeoffs.
8 Pilots are Usually Happy to Show Off the CockPit
A little secret that might come in handy for traveling parents is the fact that the average pilot doesn’t mind being asked by passengers to see the cockpit. In fact, there’s a decent number of them that actually enjoy the request as it’s a chance to interact with passengers and show off a little part of their world that they rarely get to put on display.
Of course, they aren’t going to allow most folks to start handling all of the important functions found in the cockpit, but allowing passengers to catch a glimpse is usually a given if you just ask.
7 Pilots Don’t Get Better Discounts Than Other Airline Employees
There’s an assumption that because airplane pilots are the highest up on the food chain of airline employees, they get the best perks and discounts of them all. This is actually not true at all. Pilots get to fly for free like most other employees, but they too have to wait on standby like their airline peers in order to enjoy the benefit.
In fact, benefits are more dependent on seniority, so if an airline flight attendant who’s been employed for three decades is waiting for a flight, it’s likely they are riding for free before the thirty-five-year-old pilot does.
6 Take the Aisle Seat
If at all possible, choose the aisle seat. It’s simply the best seat in the house. The average person flying always goes for the highly sought after window seat because of the exclusive access to the views that one can enjoy. But barring the ability to see the heavens, the aisle seat has the best upside.
Planes can get really cold and the window seat can be an icebox since air often gets in from the vents above through the seams. The temperature in the aisle seat is usually just right and the biggest benefit is not having to trip over neighbors when getting up to go the restroom.
5 Crew Members Wake Up On the Other Side of the Country
It is not unheard of for airline crew members to find themselves over a thousand miles away on the other side of the country after waking up from a nap.
The unfortunate reality is that crew members who are responsible for tasks such as cleanup or maintenance tend to take naps in certain parts of the plane during downtime in between flights.
There has been a documented instance of a crew member falling asleep before departure and waking up during the middle of the flight on their way to a new city faced with the task of finding their way back home while trying to keep their job.
4 Co-Pilots Are Not Glorified Helpers
There is a perception that co-pilots don’t do much work and are simply glorified helpers to the captain. This is actually couldn’t be further from the truth. The co-pilot may not be the lead officer in charge, but they are just as capable as the captain. They simply aren’t at the lead for a variety of reasons, mostly because the captain has more tenure.
Co-pilots hold several important jobs while flying which ensure the safety and successful completion of each and every flight.
3 Going to the Restroom for Pilots is a Chore
Being a pilot has its perks, but going to the restroom during a flight is most definitely not one of them.
For starters, there are some pretty strict regulations in place when it comes to leaving the cockpit during a flight. There’s also the simple matter of pilots probably not wanting to deal with the major headache of making their way down the cabin via aisles that are occupied by passengers.
Most pilots make sure to go beforehand and wait until after landing to use it for the sake of avoiding the chaos that awaits them in the cabin aisles.
2 Be Careful When Searching for Flights
Most travelers do comprehensive searches online before finally purchasing the tickets for a vacation or business trip.
A huge secret regarding flight searches is the tracking of online activities taking place behind the scenes by our internet browsers. This practice tracks searches and might be the reason why prices increase right before you choose the flight you want.
If you have searched for a flight, it might be worth it to close the browser, clear the cookies and find it again, just to be sure the price is fair game.
1 The Airline Industry Does Not Like Food
Just about every single flight in the world offers free snacks and beverages as part of the price of the ticket. This usually means you are going to be treated to a bag of peanuts, pretzels or mixed nuts along with a cup of soda or coffee. We may think this gesture is insignificant, but to the airline, it’s a huge deal.
The amount of money spent on food and drinks by each airline can exceed half a billion dollars a year. If you ever wonder why the price of a ticket seems so high, this might be the culprit.