14 Dark Secrets You Need To Know About Flying

People all around the world are constantly traveling, as it’s been for the past century after the concept of the airplane was first created and will continue to be for centuries to come. It only makes sense for aircraft travelers to have nothing but the highest faith in the airlines and pilots they literally trust with their lives to operate the plane accurately, effectively and, most importantly, safely. In addition, flyers want to know that the plane itself is secured and maintained, not to mention the high standard and expectation of outstanding airplane service.

No one wants to believe that flight attendants are goofing off on their phones instead of ensuring the comfort of passengers or that the pilot is actually asleep at the controls.

Regardless of how experienced a frequent flyer may be, there are plenty of dark and unsettling secrets about the so-called friendly skies that remain unknown to even these more recurrent flyers.

Several pilots, flight attendants and airline professionals were interviewed in hopes of acquiring a more raw, detailed, behind-the-scenes look at flying. The end result was the uncovering of some unsettling secrets, a few of which are rather disgusting; everything from hidden airplane amenities concealed to passengers, incompetent flight attendants, germ-infested blankets and pillows, the treatment of luggage and pets onboard, to the frightening truth about the pilots who control the aircrafts.

Alas, these dark secrets will prove a traveler’s worst fears about flying and ultimately give flyers an entirely new perspective and viewpoint on air travels and flying.


14 Flight attendants are most likely not serving dinner for a reason.

"On night flights, we sometimes hold off on meal service as long as we can so that you'll be asleep and we'll have less to do," confessed a flight attendant who decided to remain anonymous.

Similar to the lack of decent dinner service, flight attendants are also stingy when it comes to serving and refilling passengers' drinks. Several more prominent factors including understaffed flights, the emergency equipment regulations such as clarifying the use of oxygen masks can be told without the crucial details.

13 Don’t touch the plane water…ever.

"Do not EVER drink water on an aircraft that did not come from a bottle. Don't even TOUCH IT. The reason being - the ports to purge lavatory sh*t and refill the aircraft with potable water are within feet from each other and sometimes serviced all at once by the same guy," @gruntman on Reddit revealed.

In 2002, tap water tests on several flights around the country were ran by The Wall Street Journal to check the accuracy of some statements made by some flight crew members. They discovered that bacteria measures had risen way past U.S. government limits, ultimately proving this unsettling confession to be true.

12 Those oxygen masks will actually only give 15 minutes of air.

Any situation on an aircraft is considered dire once the oxygen masks drop down. However, knowing that after the initial drop of the oxygen mask, the oxygen is only obtainable for about 15 minutes, makes the notion even scarier.

But @jezalenko on Reddit indicated that within this allotted 15 minutes, it is highly probable that the pilot will descend into a lower altitude where breathing normally is possible again.

Named "Best Online Travel Expert" by Money magazine and founder of, George Hobica also confirmed, "Typically, as soon as the masks come down, the pilot descends to as low an altitude as possible and finds the nearest airport to land."

11 Getting arrested mid-flight is still possible.

The captain of the aircraft actually has immeasurable power to several undertakings, including having the authority to "arrest people, write fines and even take the will of a dying passenger if need be once the doors are closed," revealed @virgadays on Reddit.

Airline expert and co-founder of Chris Lopinto explained that in an emergency, the pilot can call authorities to have any disobedient passengers arrested once the plane lands. "The captain can put you in restraints for the authorities to pick you up on the ground if there is a problem, but the captain can’t 'arrest' you in the legal sense of the word," Chris said.

Several flight attendants have agreed with this information, stating that the captain has the ultimate authority on a plane, despite the fact that the pilot can't actually arrest people.

10 Pilots sometimes fall asleep while they’re flying.

Tracy Christoph, JetBlu flight attendant with over 20 years of experience in the airline industry, stated "On longer flights, pilots are assigned to take rest periods while their co-pilot mans the controls." Since then, several pilots from both past and present experiences have confirmed that either themselves or their co-pilot have indeed fallen asleep at the controls at some point in time on a flight.

NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker called it an "insidious issue" while reporting about the two airline pilots who fell asleep while cruising over Hawaii in February of 2008, flying past their destination toward the open ocean for 18 minutes before waking up. "Many times the pilots themselves don't recognize that they are fatigued when they get into that cockpit."

9 Airplane air is actually air from the engine’s compressors.

"The air you breathe on an airplane is actually compressed air taken from the engines. A large portion, 25% to 50%, is blown in the flight deck; the rest is for the passengers. The air leaves the airplane via a small hole in the back of the fuselage," revealed @virgadays on Reddit.

Studies have shown more recently that what flyers breathe onboard is actually a mixture of both fresh air and air from the plane's engine. The amount of air that passengers get on board is pertinent because good ventilation can actually lessen the risk of infection. Surprisingly, using this combination instead of fresh air only makes it easier to manage temperature and helps preserve humidity. So, fundamentally, breathing so-called "engine air" isn't necessarily a cause for concern nor as bad as it initially sounds.

8 How checked bags are really “checked.”

"If it says 'fragile' it's getting thrown harder. If it says this side up, it's going to be upside down. We have to fit freight and 100+ bags in a cargo pit. It has to fit how it's going to fit." an anonymous airport luggage handler confessed.

In recent years, several videos by unidentified senders have been uploaded exposing luggage handlers at various airports chucking bags and suitcases violently with little to no care only to "get the job done quicker."

In addition to the mistreatment of luggage, belongings are also often lost, misplaced or stolen due to neglected baggage regulations at airports.


7 The option of upgrading to first class after takeoff is possible.

George Hobica, online travel expert, explained that he has a number of friends who work as flight attendants. When he asked one attendant, who chose to remain anonymous, about the upgrading to first class, the flight attendant answered, "Yes, we can upgrade you to business class or first class after the airplane's doors close. No, we don't do it very often, partly because on some airlines we have to file a report explaining why we did it, partly because there has to be a meal for you and partly because the forward cabins are often full."

The profile of a passenger most likely to be upgraded into first class was also revealed; someone who has a respectful demeanor, is nicely dressed, is seemingly decorous and attractive, or is with child that this will ultimately increase their chances at getting upgraded into first class.

6 People steal lifejackets.

"People take those lifejackets, located under or between your seat, as souvenirs. It's a vile and punishable offense, and while airlines do check each seat at the start of every day, a plane could make several trips in a day, during any one of which a passenger could steal a life vest," George Hobica, airline expert, revealed.

Of course, lifejackets are not the only items getting stolen on planes. After passengers get off a flight, attendants sometimes also find gadgets, devices and valuables left behind. Flight attendant Charlie Sanders revealed that in addition to finding a Kindle, an iPad, and an iPhone 4, she also found a substantial amount of money.

Alas, there have been reports of flight attendants also stealing valuables left behind from flights.

5 Flight attendants probably aren't following cell phone rules.

Turning off cell phones use to be a widely known and infamous rule every flight attendant instructed before takeoff. This was before FAA determined that it was indeed safe for passengers to use electronic devices during takeoff and landing back in 2013.

However, it's not exactly professional or proper etiquette for a flight attendant to be using a cell phone instead of tending to passengers, whether it be before, during, or after a flight.

@dora_de_destroya on Reddit confessed, "My sister is a flight attendant. She says after she tells everyone to turn off all electronics, she goes to the back and pulls out her phone and starts texting."

4 Tipping goes a long way.

Abbie Unger, a former flight attendant employed by US Airways Express who retired to publish a book about becoming a flight attendant and launch a new career as a flight attendant consultant in 2011, disclosed, "Many airlines actually discourage tipping and advise that crew members turn down a passenger's first attempt at offering a tip. Try a second or third time, though, and your flight attendant will feel free to accept."

An anonymous blogger also wrote, "My girlfriend is a flight attendant. If you give your flight attendant a fiver with your first drink, you'll probably drink for free the rest of the flight."

3 Treatment of pets is not exactly top priority.


Traveling with pets is sometimes inevitable. Although most airlines claim the well-being of passengers and animals onboard is the upmost priority as well as promising to ensure the safest protocol is met, this promise is not always kept.

"I am an aircraft fueler. While your airline will take the best possible actions, some things cannot be avoided, like the noise on the ramp. I cannot stand out there without ear protection, so imagine your pet sitting out there on the ramp waiting to be loaded onto the plane being exposed to the same amount of noise I am," @parad0xy on Reddit warned.

2 There’s most likely organs on the plane.

American aircraft pilot, author and columnist Meryl Getline once stated, "Many people don't realize that airlines often carry organs cross-country for emergency recipients, so I explained this to my passengers. 'Incidentally,' I added, 'this is a lunch flight. I'd stay away from the liver.' I could hear them laughing through the cockpit door."

The actuality that an organ may be onboard is always made aware to the pilot, despite not always being brought to the attention of passengers. More recently, many flights have been organized specifically for the purpose of transporting organs. Almost any organ can be transported but some parts, including the heart, kidney, and lungs, are limited to only a few hours onboard.

1 There are often several hidden amenities on the aircraft.


Reporter Christian Nilsson informed the public in a report about secret compartments on airliners just how privileged some flight attendants have it onboard.

"Sometimes flight attendants just sit outside the bathrooms, but others have access to secret crew rest departments that feature beds and other hidden amenities like entertainment centers. Though the space is tight, a number of airlines have rest areas so flight attendants can unwind and get some much-needed sleep," Christian reports.

Onboard of some of the even newer aircrafts, including the Cathay Pacific planes, there's even more hidden compartments onboard including staircases and rows of bunk beds lined with thick curtains to shield from sound.



More in Extreme