Perhaps you’ve ridden a plane before. Once, twice, maybe multiple times. Or maybe you’re like me and you haven’t even so much as stepped foot in an airport. Maybe it’s because of a fear of heights, a fear of the plane crashing (technically, you’re safer on an airplane than in a car), or maybe there’s just another reason for why you have no burning desire to take a ride in an airplane.
But for those who have taken a trip on an airplane, did you find your ride comfortable? Or did you find yourself bothered by something? Were you stuck in front of a kid who kept kicking your seat? Stuck with a flight attendant who had no idea what he or she was doing?
Maybe you hated the last time you rode an airplane so much that you’ve sworn off flying completely. Or maybe you like flying so much that you want to keep doing it.
However, you may want to think twice about purchasing a plane ticket in the future.
A Reddit user posted a thread on the site asking pilots and flight attendants to share some of the darkest, most shocking secrets about airline travel that the general public doesn’t know about it. And I gathered some of their answers right here. If you want to see the horrors for yourself, then check out this list of 15 dark pilot confessions that’ll make you never want to fly again.
15. Luggage Isn’t Treated Gently By Baggage Handlers
When you board an airplane, you expect your luggage to be handled seriously and not tossed around like a rag doll, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case at airport terminals. Generally speaking, baggage handlers could care less about how your stuff gets thrown in the cargo hold, just as long as it’s in there. Not only do they have to fit over 100 bags in the cargo pit but they also have to fit in freight, so sometimes stuff just has to fit the way it’s going to fit. And don’t think because your package says “Fragile, Handle With Care” that the handlers will take care of it any better. That’ll just make them throw it harder. And if something reads,”This side up”, chances are it’ll be upside-down. Word of advice? Tie tags on your luggage that say “I heart baggage handlers.” They’ll handle your stuff nicely then.
14. The Headsets Aren’t Cleaned
You may want to think twice before you watch another movie on an airplane. Or do anything that involves using the headsets that the flight attendant gives you. In commercial flights where passengers are offered headsets for in-flight entertainment, the headsets airlines offer are never cleaned. You may think that they’re new because they’re wrapped up neatly in packaging, but that’s just what the airlines want you to think. They want you to think they’re new. In reality, the headsets are taken off the flight, “cleaned” (not sure how much they’re actually getting cleaned), and then re-packaged.
13. Reagan National in Washington, and John Wayne in Orange County Are The Worst Airports For Pilots.
If you have no plans of flying into Washington, D.C., or Orange County, California, anytime soon or never in your entire life, then rest assured because this entry won’t apply to you. If you do plan on traveling to Washington, D.C. or Orange Country sometime in the future, then brace yourself for an interesting ride. The John Wayne airport gets a notably bad rep among pilots because there are a lot of rich folks who live near the airport who don’t like the jet noise. They even have a noise reduction measure that forces the pilots to basically turn the aircraft into a missile as soon as it’s airborne. And then some airports in general just have really short runways, so you’ll never get a good landing despite the pilots’ best intentions.
12. The Water In The Lavatories Is Dirty
This should come without saying, but you really shouldn’t drink the water in the lavatories (aka bathrooms). Seriously though, don’t drink the water from there. You probably shouldn’t even wash your hands in the sink. While the water tank is sanitized at fixed maintenance levels, certain parasites eventually become resistant to the cleaners. Here’s a tip: When you walk into the aircraft, take a good look at the outside. If the paint is in poor shape, then that should let you know about the state of the airplane. Skydrol, otherwise known as hydraulic fluid, pretty much dissolves everything, so if there’s paint missing, then it’s most likely due to a Skydrol leak. And Skydrol leaks are not exactly wanted when you’re thousands of feet in the air.
11. Blankets And Pillows Aren’t Fresh
Just like the headsets, the blankets and pillows aren’t cleaned either. They’re just refolded and packed back in the bins between flights. So you may be laying your head against the same pillow someone who had head lice or really bad dandruff laid their head against as well. And you also may be covering your body with a blanket that’s been touched by someone’s dirty hands. One former flight attendant who worked for Southwest in the past admitted that the only fresh pillows she ever saw were on an originating first flight in a provisioning city. Another flight attendant said the same thing, saying that fresh blankets are only provided for the first flights of the day; all flights after that use the same blankets from before that were just refolded. Just FYI.
10. Pilots Sleep While Flying
You may have already known this, but it’s not uncommon for pilots to fall asleep behind the controls. About half of pilots fall asleep while in the air, and a third of them wake up to find their partner fast asleep. The plane is basically being flown on autopilot. Which may not be a big deal except for the fact that in a poll of 500 commercial pilots, 43% of them admitted that their abilities had been compromised at least once a month in the past six months due to fatigue. 84% said their abilities had been compromised at some point during the past six months. And to add to that, about half of the pilots said that pilot exhaustion was the greatest danger to flight safety—three times more than any other risk.
9. Lavatories Unlock From The Outside
This one may not be enough to make you never want to fly again, but it’s still important to know. Just know that if you get up to use the bathroom during flight, it’s quite possible for someone to walk in on you if they really wanted to. Or if your child got trapped in the bathroom and you had to rescue them. The bathrooms can be locked from the inside of course, but they can be unlocked from the outside. Hidden behind the No Smoking badge is a lock mechanism. If you simply lift the flap up and slide the bolt, you can unlock the door without any problems. Actually, if you look on YouTube, you can find multiple videos of people showing you how exactly to unlock a lavatory, in case you really wanted to know.
8. The Drinking Water Isn’t Clean
Don’t bother with making tea or coffee or anything else along those lines if you’re on an airplane. Just don’t. If your coffee addiction will allow you to go a few hours or an entire day while you’re taking a trip through the air, then your body will thank you. Because the drinking water serviced out on airlines is just plain dirty. Why? Because the holding tanks where the airlines keep the water are never cleaned, and some airplanes are over 60 years old. Some of the holding tanks have accrued a solid amount of grime in them; in a few areas, the filth is inches thick. All the airline employees know this disturbing fact. And they’ll still offer you drinking water anyways.
7. Seriously, The Drinking Water Isn’t Clean
If you thought I was kidding in the previous entry, then read this entry. Drinking water should never, ever, EVER, be consumed on an airplane. It’s not even safe to touch it. If the water didn’t come out of a bottle, then don’t drink it. The ports to purge the lavatories and refill the plane with portable water are just mere feet from each other. If that wasn’t already disgusting enough, they’re sometimes serviced by the same guy all at once. Now, this doesn’t always happen, but it’s just best not to take the risk. You would have no idea what’s floating around in the water you’re drinking. It’s actually not uncommon for people to get sick after they ride on an airplane because of the germs they unknowingly intake into their bodies during the flight.
6. Non-Morning Flights Are Rougher Than Morning Flights
This one isn’t particularly bad and probably isn’t bad enough to make you never want to fly again, if you’ve ever flown before. But for those who’ve never taken an airplane before and those who are nervous flyers, it’s probably best for you to book a morning flight. Bumpier air is brought about by the heating of the ground, and since it’s hotter in the afternoon than in the morning, you’re more likely to experience a bumpier flight in the afternoon than in the morning. It’s also more likely to thunderstorm during the afternoon, so if you don’t like thunderstorms you should take that into consideration. And if you can help it, try and sit as close to the front as possible. The bumpiest place to sit on an airplane is the back.
5. Babies Aren’t Safe During Flight
Maybe it would be fine if you and your child were taking a short trip through the sky, but you might want to reconsider if you’re planning on taking a long trip. Or maybe you shouldn’t risk the chance at all regardless of how long the flight is. Flying with a baby can be extremely dangerous. Anything can go wrong. If there’s an impact, deceleration, or anything along those lines, there’s a strong chance you’ll lose hold of your child and he or she will essentially become a projectile. However, the government thinks that if they charge you more for a seat for your baby, you’ll just save money and drive, so they’ll never mention this little tidbit to you. Especially since you’re more likely to be injured driving than flying.
4. Pets Aren’t Treated That Well
As an airline passenger, the airline will do their very best to accommodate and provide you a (mostly) pleasurable trip. But can the same be said for your dog or cat? Of course the airline will try their very best to make the trip as comfortable as possible for your pets, but there are just some things that are completely out of their control and that they can do nothing about. One of these uncontrollable things is noise on the ramp. Aircraft fuelers can’t be out on the ramp without some kind of ear protection, so just imagine what it would be like for dogs, who have much more sensitive hearing than we humans do. Think again before you fly with your pets.
3. Trays Are Never Cleaned Or Sanitized
So the lavatories aren’t clean, the headsets aren’t clean, the blankets and pillows aren’t clean, and the trays aren’t clean either? Even the button to push back the seat isn’t wiped down. Let’s just say that nothing on airplanes is clean since things that really should be cleaned aren’t. Never spread your peanuts out on your tray. It’s not even safe for you to even so much as to touch you tray. A former flight attendant who used to work for Southwest said she saw more dirty diapers strewn across trays than food. Which means if you ever ate off a tray on an airplane, you may have unknowingly ingested baby poo, because like I said before, those trays are never cleaned or sanitized. Now that’s just nasty.
2. Most Flights Are Carrying Human Organs
Airlines always have set number of passengers they can allow on any flight, but that number doesn’t include the “special” passengers. Special meaning dead. That’s right, you read it. If you ever rode in an airplane on a domestic flight, you may be surprised to learn that there’s a good chance you rode in an airplane that was carrying dead bodies or organs. Most domestic flights carry corpses or human remains, due largely to the fact that many people die far, far away from where they would like to be buried, and so their corpses have to be carted to their final resting place by plane in wooden frame boxes. Apparently, Bin 3 in a Boeing 737-300 can fit 150 bags of human organs. The more you know.
1. Not All Pilots Are Experienced
Whenever you ride on an aircraft, there’a chance that the pilot in charge of making sure you get from Point A to Point B is a subcontractor. A subcontractor is kind of like an independent contractor; they’re not an official employee of the business they’re offering their services to. Major companies hire subcontractors to reduce costs since subcontractors don’t have to be paid as much as regular employees. They’ll carry out the job tasks handed to them for a fraction of the price. Airlines like Delta use subcontractor pilots. And these subcontractor pilots only have a fraction of the experience and training a pilot on the mainline carrier would have. So don’t think for a minute that just because you fly with a big airline that your pilot is seasoned. Because there’s a good chance he’s not.