6 Concerning Secrets Airlines Keep From the General Public

Katie Sweeney

I’m taking a plane to Scottsdale, Arizona, this weekend, so when I came across a Refinery29 headline about things that airline companies don’t tell us, I had to click. Author Allison Hope is a former airline industry employee who says that she has “seen and heard a lot of things that the general flying public, for better or worse, is in the dark about.” She then goes on to describe six freaky facts about flying that airlines don’t tell us. I round them up below. Be warned: A couple are pretty gross!

  1. You shouldn’t drink the coffee or tea made on the plane. According to Hope, “the water sourced for in-flight hot beverages comes from tanks that are hard to clean and have a higher likelihood of bacteria and other contaminants.” Anything that requires tap water should be avoided. She also advises steering clear of the food, unless it’s from a specific brand in a sealed bag. LSG Sky Chefs is the largest contractor of meals for airlines, and it regularly breaks food safety standards.
  2. Airlines retire numbers they consider bad luck. The airline industry is a superstitious entity. Flight numbers that are associated with a negative accident, such as American Airlines Flight 77 (which crashed on 9/11), are put out to pasture after the incident.
  3. The seat-back trays are rarely cleaned. Passengers often use the seat-back trays as their own private diaper-changing tables, meaning there could be bacteria living on it. Hope recommends wiping the tray with antibacterial swipes before you touch or eat off it.
  4. There is not a safe seat. Contrary to popular belief, there is not one seat that is safer than any other. Hope puts it like this: “If the plane is nose-diving from 30,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, sorry, but you’re out of luck no matter where you sit.”
  5. Every plane has something wrong with it. Planes have routine scheduled maintenance, and certain issues might not be dealt with until they go in for their regular checkup. There is a formula that determines when a problem is addressed, and it takes into account a variety of factors like risk, severity, backup systems, where the airline has the proper parts, and where the airline has the proper people to fix it.
  6. Disgusting things happen on planes all the time. People have sex, puke, and die more often than we know.

Traveling soon? Bring these antibacterial wipes to clean your tray table and chair. 

What do you think of these scary flight facts?

Explore: Airlines, Air Travel

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