Sam Smith and Gabi Zietsman

ou may think you know all there is to know about flying, but there are a few not-well-kept-secrets about what happens behind the scenes you’re likely oblivious to – perhaps on purpose?

According to Insider, flight attendants and pilots keep all sorts of secrets from naive passengers. Ranging from mildly shocking to gut-wrenching, aviation experts have shared what really goes on in the sky – from the most germ-ridden parts of the plane to how much power your pilot really has to scary cost-cutting measures.

WARNING: This content might cause you to never set foot on a plane again. EVER.

Earphones are not new.

No, the earphones that are wrapped in a little baggie are not new. They have, however, been cleaned and unclogged.

The tray table is a germ mecca.

It turns out where you eat on a plane is dirtier than the onboard bathroom. According to the results of a microbiological study commissioned by Travel Math, the tray table on the back of seats tested the highest for presence of bacteria with 2 155 colony-forming units per square inch. Now that you know, ensure that there is limited to no direct contact between your food and the tray table.

Dim the lights for the grim landing.

You might think it’s to lull your anxieties about flying in a steel death-trap, but in reality dimming lights prep passengers in case there’s an emergency landing. The dimmed lights adjust passengers’ eyes to the darkness outside the plane if anything goes wrong.

Stay away from the water.

The water used for tea and coffee is often unclean as the urns and holding tanks are rarely cleaned, while one out of 10 planes tested positive for coliform – a bacteria the can signal the presence of E. coli according to Insider.

Sometimes planes have just enough fuel to make it to a destination.

A pilot told Reader’s Digest that airlines are always looking to save money, which often results in only putting enough fuel in a plane to just get to its destination – any delays like thunderstorms and the plane will have to land at a nearer airport.

Here’s why it’s almost always cold on a flight

Another pilot said that they have control over the air conditioning, but the flight attendants move around so much in the plane that they always ask it to be colder.

Come in and shut the door.

Was your flight attendant rude when you boarded? Some flight attendants only get paid once the plane door is closed up until it is opened again. All of the effort going into shuffling overhead bins and reseating passengers is for mahala.

The secret behind despising diet Coke.

Diet coke is the hardest beverage to serve passengers because the fizz takes so long to settle at 35 000 feet in the air. When pouring in cups – three normal Cokes can be poured in the amount of time it takes to pour one diet Coke.

They can unlock the toilets from the outside.

Unlocking the loo is actually deemed a safety measure for when one injures themselves or dies. The unlock button is normally hidden underneath the “no smoking” sign.

Most flights carry human organs.

Most flights are probably carrying human remains or organs on them.

Planes get struck by lightning all the time

Planes get easily struck by lightning when passing through a thunderstorm – but it rarely does damage. According to The Telegraph, a plane is designed in such a way that passengers and the fuel tank is heavily insulated from any electrical currents, leaving maybe only a little bit of melted steel and a faint burning smell in the cabin.

Oxygen masks have an expiration date.

Once the mask is released – you have around 15 minutes to make use of them. This is the same amount of time needed for the pilot to lower the plane to a lower altitude, where you will be able to breathe normally. If you are not lowered – it will take around 15-20 seconds until you keel over.

Anything the captain says, goes.

A pilot has almost unlimited authority on a plane, from taking a will to ordering a passenger to be constrained – they can even bar a passenger from entering a plane that looks too much under the weather.

What happens when someone dies on the plane?

Firstly, due to a technicality no one can officially die in the air. Despite the captain’s powers, the official time of death will only be taken once the plane lands again. Secondly, there’s nowhere out of sight to keep a dead body on a plane so it will normally be strapped into the previously-living person’s seat or laid down in an empty aisle until the plane lands.

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