|10 More Air Travel Mysteries Solved.|
Monday, 17th September 2012
Are all pilots rich? Can you get sucked down a toilet? And what is rule 240? Everything you wanted to know about air travel but were too afraid to ask.
1. Is it miles better in the Mile High Club?
What’s so good about being a member of the Mile High Club? It has been suggested that the brain gets less oxygen at higher altitudes, leading to feelings of euphoria (hold your breath - not for too long! - and you get the same feeling!).
However, because the air is pressurised in the cabin to imitate being on the ground, being at altitude won’t affect you at all. We’d rather be reading the in-flight magazine over a nice gin n’ tonic anyway.
2. You’ve got a good chance of catching a cold on a plane
Does the recycled air on planes spread germs? The short answer is no. Aeroplanes are fitted with a High Efficiency Particle Air Filters (HEPA) system. This takes air from outside, mixes it with the recycled air and then filters it, capturing airborne germs and pumping clean air into the cabin. A complete air change occurs every two to four minutes. Don’t believe us?
3. Can commercial jet doors be opened mid-flight?
There have been a handful of incidents in which passengers have had sleeping pill-induced moments of craziness and tried to open the doors mid-flight. Whilst they were usually wrestled to the ground by fellow passengers and attendants, there really was no need for concern. The doors used in commercial airliners are called ‘plug’ doors. Because the pressure seals the door, you would need the strength of 100 bodybuilders to open them. If you happen to get on a plane with 100 bodybuilders however, start worrying…
4. Can you get sucked down a plane toilet?
Related plane toilet rumours have it that you can get stuck to the loo seat, and even have your insides sucked out! In cult film Soul Plane a character sues the airline after being sucked into the toilet during a flight. However hard this is to believe, this is in fact fiction. It is technically impossible due to its shape and size of a modern aeroplane toilet. Much as you’d like to prove us wrong, don’t try this at home – it won’t work there either.
5. Are all pilots rich?
Not necessarily. According to a pilot from Jet Blue, it takes a long time to work up to a good salary. Starting out, you can only expect about £20,500, and working your way up to the top takes time and hard work. Gaining your own Commercial Pilot's Licence will cost you £35-50,000. Airlines used to sponsor all pilots' training, but these days this is usually on offer only for younger candidates.
Pilots dislike the stigma that they are all rich, even if does give them a certain pulling power. The life of your average pilot is not glamorous: a lunch-hour at Luton and tea break on Teeside isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
6. Can I get an upgrade if I complain about my seat?
It is pure myth that a flight attendant can upgrade your ticket whilst you are actually seated, even if it’s on fire. We revealed the many tricks people will try to get an upgrade, but according to Heather Poole, author of Cruising Attitude, you won’t get it from a flight attendant. Your best bet is to enquire politely at the check-in desk before you board the plane. But don’t try to chat up the airline staff. You’ll only embarrass yourself.
7. Diet cola is difficult to pour at altitude
Yes, it it’s true. Fizz combined with altitude makes it harder to pour diet cola than any other drink. Apparently, in the time it takes to pour one, a flight attendant could serve three other passengers their drinks. So if you want to annoy the cabin crew, now you know what drink to ask for. Just be careful, these people are serving your food!
8. Do planes collide with birds on a regular basis?
Yes they do. And yes, poor birds. Although there have been some extreme cases, most of the time you won’t even notice. As with most things, a plane is most at risk at take-off and landing as they cruise at a good deal higher altitude than most birds. Some airports are in close proximity to large concentrations of birds, for example, JFK and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Long Island, New York, but birds do their best to keep out of the way.
9. Why do you have to open the window blinds for take-off and landing?
This isn’t a requirement for all airlines: Captain John Cox explains that it is at their discretion. However, the reason why some airlines prefer to have the blinds open is because in the very, very unlikely event of an emergency, services can see inside the plane. The lights are dimmed so evacuating passengers’ eyes can adjust to the outside light.
10. What is Rule 40?
Invoke 'Rule 240’ and airlines will compensate you for any inconvenience they may have caused you. Or will they? Does Rule 240 really exist? Well, just by saying the words ‘Rule 240’ to your check-in staff won’t help. Not anymore anyway. It was a condition that the U.S Department of Transportation filed with most major airlines to ensure you were treated in the best possible way (how quaint!).
Now however, every airline carrier has a different policy. These are called Conditions of Carriage which, if within Europe, must adhere to EU Law. Make sure you read these thoroughly before flying, and take a copy with you, so you can complain properly.