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26 November, 2011

Top Ten Things Airlines Don't Tell You


Top Ten Things Airlines Don't Tell You

Besides the hidden fees and hours sat on an airplane without any clue as to why you're holding, there are certain things that airlines will never tell you. We tracked down three U.S. pilots and squeezed out some of their dirty little secrets. Due to the sensitive nature, we're not naming names.
By Lisa Costantini
GOOD MORNING, THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN: Though pilots have been portrayed as superheroes in countless movies, they too get no free lunches, have to take bathroom breaks, and partake in office romances.  (Image Source)
10. Even Pilots Have to Pee
"Anyone who has sat near the front of the plane since 9/11 has surely noticed when the pilots are ready to take a bathroom break, or 'physiological needs' break, as the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) calls it. When nature calls we alert the flight attendants on the intercom. The attendants set up a barrier to the cockpit and give us an all-clear signal to open the door, as we don't have a separate bathroom and have to use the same one as everyone else. A few months back my fellow pilot picked up the wrong handset and accidentally asked the entire aircraft if we could 'come out and pee?'"
9. There Is Such Thing as the "Good Seats"
"If you are susceptible to motion sickness, your best bet is to sit over the wing. An airplane is like a teeter-totter. When the pilot moves the nose of the plane up or down, the seats in the extreme front and back are going to move a greater distance. And as a rule, the tail tends to move more than the front, so stay away from the rear if motion is a problem for you."
8. The Fasten Seatbelt Sign Is No Joke
"Turbulence isn't dangerous to a jet aircraft, but it is to the people in it. Past incidents of severe turbulence have slammed people into the ceiling and then dropped them to the floor, causing very serious injuries. If your flight crew tells you to be seated because of turbulence, I highly recommend you heed their warning."
7. There Are No Free Lunches
"Thanks to the airline bankruptcies starting in 2000, few U.S. domestic airlines still provide food to its crews. As pilots we are allowed to eat in the cockpit once we're at cruising altitude, but we're usually eating something from the food courts in the airport terminal: pre-prepared wrapped sandwiches, slices of pizza. Not quite the glamorous lifestyle it used to be."
6. And You Thought Filling Your Car Was Expensive
"The number-one expense for an airline is fuel, which isn't going to get any cheaper. And because the cost of gas fluctuates so much, so does the price of the flight. Your average two-engine, narrow-body aircraft burns about 15 gallons of gas per minute at cruising altitude. So you can imagine what the gas bill would be on a transcontinental flight."
5. The FAA Has a Sense of Humor, Sort of"Airplanes follow an invisible map of highways and avenues in the sky in order to make it to their destinations. There are thousands of virtual points in the sky that pilots follow on their route, each with unique names so the air-traffic controllers can tell us where to go and how to get there. The FAA has gotten creative when naming some of these points (which must be five characters), like these over southern Florida—UFIRD, DONLD, and TRUMP over Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, or FINNS, PYRUT, and BUFIT for Florida native Jimmy Buffett. My favorites are at the Kansas City Airport, honoring its local cuisine on the arrival procedure with SPICY and BARBQ."
4. The Deal With Electronics"Nothing has ever been proven, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that electronics really interfere with an aircraft's flight instruments. The most likely culprits are things that transmit a signal, like a cell phone or a computer operating in Wi-Fi mode, which emits an electronic pulse or wave. But new aircrafts are being engineered for the wireless age so you should see more and more allowance of electronic devices in the future."
3. Your Co-Pilot Could be More Experienced Than You Think"The turmoil of the airline industry over the last 20 years or so has caused many airlines to go out of business or shrink in size, thus laying off massive numbers of employees. If an airline captain loses his job at one airline and goes to another, he or she will start over as a co-pilot at entry-level pay and will be given no credit for their experience."
2. The Air Isn't Immune to Office Romances"All the crew stays at the same hotel, but I remember a couple years ago the pilots' wives pushed for flight attendants to be at a different hotel than the pilots because they didn't want to make it easy for their husbands to cheat."
1. Crews Are Trained in More Than Just Emergency Exits"Terrorism is a big deal nowadays. Most flight attendants and pilots are trained for those instances and taught self-defense as well as how to detect certain behaviors. Pilots are also able to sign up for a voluntary intensive program that is held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. For one week they learn things like how to shoot a gun and disable someone carrying one. When they finish the program they're licensed to carry a gun into the cockpit with them."

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