Planes have changed a lot since the days of the Wright brother’s wood-and-cloth contraptions.
Today with the continual advancements in aerospace technology, it's hard to keep up with all the amazing things planes are capable of doing (and withstanding). And while it isn’t easy to surprise an experienced traveler, there are still some things you’ve probably never thought of.
We found several secrets that are only known to airline employees and the most curious passengers.
Arm doors and cross check
You’ll hear this at the start of every flight. It simply means that the door is ready for use in an emergency evacuation. If the door is opened the escape slide or raft will deploy and inflate (It can inflate in less than 6 seconds). Crew arm and disarm the door by moving a special level, locked with a pin.
Chimes and dings
No two airlines use the same chiming system but Qantas Airways divulged their code. A high-low “ding-dong” chime on a Qantas plane means the staff wants to get each other’s attention, usually for non-emergencies, like checking to see if the other side of the cabin has more pretzel’s. A triple low chime is a priority message like warning the flight attendants of bumpy skies ahead, so they can begin locking up before the announcement is made to the passengers.
Sit near the wing for a smooth flight
A plane is like a seesaw, according to a pilot from Seattle. “If you're in the middle, you don't move as much.” This is a good trick to use in mind if you want to sleep through the entire flight.
Crew rest compartments
On long-haul flights, cabin crew can work 16-hours, so to help fight fatigue, some planes, like the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliners, are outfitted with tiny bedrooms where they can get some rest. Typically accessed via a hidden staircase the rooms are small with low-ceilings and a few beds, a bathroom, and sometimes in-flight entertainment.
What are those things sticking off the aircraft wing
Statistically, each aircraft is struck by lightning on average once a year. It’s a common occurrence that modern aircraft are designed to deal with. Next time you look out at the aircraft window, take a look at the wing. You will see small metal rods extending off the back of the wings. These are called static wicks and help the energy of the lightning leave the aircraft safely. An aircraft flying through a cloud can actually create static electricity, so the wicks also help dissipate that energy too.
Your taste buds don’t work
A 2015 Cornell University study, found that the environment inside an airplane actually alters the way food and drink tastes—sweet items tasted less sweet, and salty flavours are heightened. A 2010 study from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Germany, also showed it is about 30% more difficult to detect sweet and salty tastes when you’re up in the air.
Pilots and co-pilots must eat different meals
This is about passengers’ safety. If a meal leads to an upset stomach or food poisoning, the chances are that the other meal will be fine. So, if one pilot is unable to perform their duty due to illness, the co-pilot can take over.
Diet coke is a flight attendants nemesis
Of all the drinks served, Diet Coke takes the most time to pour—the fizz takes forever to settle at 35,000 feet and can take up to 3 times longer to pour than another drink, so expect to get a can to pour yourself.
You are way more emotional on planes
Have you ever cried like a baby watching a movie you normally find boring? A 2017 survey of passengers commissioned by London’s Gatwick Airport found that 15% of men and 6% of women are more likely to cry while watching a film on a flight than if they were to watch that movie elsewhere.
A hole in the windows
Airplane windows have 3 pieces of glass: the outer one to keep the pressure at bay, the inner one deals with damage from inside, and the middle one, in which the hole is made, regulates the airflow. The hole helps to balance the pressure difference and prevents moisture from condensing between the glass panels.
Air conditioning system
The air you breathe onboard comes from a compressor stage of each engine turbine. This is perhaps what served to fuel a superstition that airplane air is dirty. However, the air is filtered and cooled first, and the filters, catch up to 95% of bacteria.
A Cooper vane
In 1971 Dan Cooper hijacked an airplane, received a ransom, and escaped with a parachute. Since then, all Boeing and Airbus planes have been equipped with a Cooper vane: a device that doesn’t let the doors open mid-flight.
Planes land hard in bad weather on purpose
Don’t worry if the plane lands in a thud, they are built to handle stresses well beyond the typical hard landing, it could also be intentional for your safety. For example, if it has been raining and there is water on the ground a hard landing is necessary to prevent skidding or sliding.
Why planes leave trails in the sky
The white lines planes leave in the sky are simply trails of condensation or “contrails.” Plane engines release water vapor as part of the combustion process. When that hot water hits the cooler air in the atmosphere, it creates those puffy white lines in the sky.
What happens when I flush while flying?
This is probably the oldest legend in the book about flying. At the end of a flight, the toilet tanks are vacuumed into a tank on the back of a truck, which dumps it elsewhere, but certainly not above the houses of unsuspecting residents.
Why not travel next time with Qantas Airways? An airline which is widely regarded as the world's leading long-distance airline and one of the strongest brands in Australia. It is also the world’s oldest continuously operating airline and has built a reputation for excellence in safety, operational reliability, engineering and maintenance, and customer service. Book your next trip with Qantas.
This post is sponsored by Qantas Airways and written by Brandstudio24 for Traveller24