|11 Air Travel Myths and Mysteries Explained.|
Monday, 10th September 2012
Where's the safest place to sit on plane? And can you really get high on the oxygen masks? We reveal the truth about everything you wanted to know about air travel but were afraid to ask.
1. Is it true that you get drunk quicker on a plane?
The lack of oxygen on-board means a glass of red will go to your head much faster in the air than it would on terra firma. However, research found that there are no notable differences between drinking on the runway and 12,000 feet up. The same applies whether you’re in the pub or the sky: six glasses of champagne before breakfast will get you a bit squiffy.
2. Why is there never a row ‘13’ on an aeroplane?
If you doff your cap to crows and avoid black cats, then you’ll appreciate this. Rather than spook superstitious flyers, airlines remove row 13 from their aircraft. Lufthansa also fly without row 17 to avoid unnerving Italian flyers who consider this number unlucky too. Alaska Airlines are one of the few who actually operate aircraft with a row 13. Why they do is a mystery.
3. Do planes still avoid the Bermuda triangle? (and did they ever?)
Legend has it that over 1,000 planes and ships disappeared while crossing the area betwixt Bermuda, Puerto Rico and Florida. So you’d forgive pilots if they preferred to give it a wide berth. But they don’t…and they never have. Planes have travelled across the mysterious zone for years and continue to do so despite the myths. It’s possibly worth the risk when the only other option is a 1,800 mile detour.
4. Is it true that all airplane toilets must be fitted with an ashtray, even though smoking on planes has been banned for nearly 15 years?
Yes. US government agency The FAA, says that all planes must have ashtrays on board, and this has been adopted by airlines worldwide to ensure flight safety. The rule came into effect after a discarded cigarette caused a passenger jet to crash in 1973. So even though smoking on airplanes has been illegal for almost two decades, they still provide ashtrays in case smokers cave in to their cravings and take the risk to light-up on-board.
5. Do cabin crew have to be within certain size and weight limits?
Cabin crew must be above 5’2” in order to reach the overhead compartments (usually about 6’ high) and manually deploy the evacuation slides in an emergency. At the other end of the scale, if you’re taller than 6’2” then you might have a little trouble folding yourself into the cramped galleys. As far as waistlines go, there are no strict rules, as long as you can serve a diet coke during turbulence.
6. Can lightning make a plane crash?
You’d think a big chunk of metal flying through a storm would be a likely target for lightning. Well, it is. Lightning strikes every commercial plane on average once a year. But don’t worry (!) the last plane to actually crash as a result was in 1967. Nowadays, airplanes have to successfully pass a number of rigorous lightning certification tests and most people only report slight turbulence if lightning strikes.
7. Would a plane explode if you fired a gun on-board?
If you’re Harrison Ford in Air Force One, then you’ll probably be fine. It depends on what gets hit. If a bullet goes through the side of the plane, it’s no biggie. Cabin pressure will compensate for any pressure leaking out of the hole. If a bullet goes through a window, that’s slightly more worrying. All the air rushes out the window, so it’ll take anything with it that’s not strapped in. If it hits the fuselage then there’s the potential for an explosion, and it’s probably a good idea to make a quick exit, which could be problematic.
8. Could you really get high on oxygen from emergency masks?
Brad Pitt seemed to think so in Fight Club. But then again, maybe we shouldn’t accept scientific facts from a fictional character. The real answer is no. Whilst oxygen could technically make you feel a little more chilled, 100% oxygen would actually kill you. It’s a loss of oxygen that can make you feel ‘high’ so airlines provide emergency masks so that you stay alert if the cabin pressure suddenly drops.
9. Is it true that no-one is allowed to stand up while the pilot is in the toilet?
When the seatbelt sign lights up, all passengers must remain seated. Depsite what you may assume, it's not because of unexpected turbulence - usually it's when the pilot is making a break for the bathroom. The number one cabin crew member will guard the flight deck door to prevent anyone storming the cockpit. Just hope they don’t get engrossed in the sports section, or lock themselves in like this poor pilot.
10. Can mobile phones (or other electronic devices) really cause problems on a plane?
Your little iPad alone would not cause a flutter in a plane’s navigation systems. If everyone kept their mobile or electronic gadgets on then the combined interference from all these devices might be an issue. However, little is known about the real effects of staying switched. So it’s more of a precaution. But it’s probably best to stick to the rules, just in case. It would be rather embarrassing to cause a plane crash.
11. Are the seats closest to the exits the safest in case of a crash?
Whilst the extra legroom is a luxury, sitting by the exit has no real impact on your chances of surviving a plane crash. Accidents involving aircraft happen for a number of different reasons, making it impossible to say that one seat is safer than any other. If the aircraft was to catch fire then being next to an exit might be handy, less so if the doors fly off and you get sucked out first. Simply knowing the location of your nearest exit is probably your safest bet.