Airlines have many secrets, and some are more interesting than others. Did you know that most of the time, pilots may be sleeping, not flying? It’s all in the machine.
But that’s not all. We’ve recently discovered that there is much more than us travelers never knew until experts reveal the most interesting things that happen (or are common) about air travel. From the amount of money air traffic controllers make, and what airplanes go through, to what happens to our lost luggage—here are some of our favorites below:
Air Traffic Controllers Make Six Figures
(Image source: Red State)
If you’re tired of earning a less-than six-figure income, why not become an air traffic controller? On average, they earn $122,000 a year and can fluctuate depending on if they work at a major airport or not. And according to Carlos Beneto Turner, to a traffic controller, the job is not that stressful, but there’s a lot of pressure. “It’s definitely a job which keeps you on your toes, and you can’t afford to not pay attention”, said Turner.
Even You Can Land a Plane
(Image source: Videezy)
Airplanes can pretty much fly on their own, and if you ever need to land one, you can do it as long as you can reach a good airport and have the support from the control center. According to a specialist, the airplane will land itself at the airport as long as you have the autopilot under control. The same goes with landing—put the auto brake on, and voilá! You’ve successfully landed a plane without barely lifting a finger.
Oxygen Masks Will Give You 15 Minutes of Air
(Image source: Science ABC)
If at any time you get into a situation where the cabin pressure falls below a certain level, and oxygen masks fall from the sky creating a rubber jungle, note that you will be supplied anywhere between 12 to 15 minutes of oxygen. Don’t worry, this is more than enough while the plane gets to a safe enough altitude where you won’t need to wear the mask any longer.
Severe Turbulence Is Rare
(Image source: Cirpac Travel)
For some, turbulence is one of the scariest experiences, while others don’t mind it and can sleep right through it. But as many of you know, turbulence is common and the airplane is built to combat this unsteadiness. But what we may not know is that severe turbulence is very, very rare. Steve Allright, a pilot for British Airways, said that for the 10,000 hours he’s flown his entire life, he only experienced severe turbulence for five minutes out of the 10,000 hours. What can be classified as severe? When a plane falls about 100 feet (30 meters).
Lost Luggage Is Sold
(Image source: The Telegraph)
Have you ever wondered what happens to lost luggage? After 90 days, anything that goes unclaimed is then auctioned off for charity or donated. There is a store in Alabama as well as Georgia that buys lost luggage and then sells them to the public. Both places have become tourist attractions. And don’t worry, the clothes are dry-cleaned and laundered at their in-house facility before they are placed on the shelves.
Lightning Strikes Planes, Often
(Image source: Live Science)
Patric Smith, who not only is an airline pilot, but also the author of Cockpit Confidential, states that planes are struck by lightning often. A commercial airline can get struck about once every two to three years, and they are designed to handle it. The energy is released through the plane’s aluminum shell—a great electrical conductor—which prevents any electricity from passing through to the inside of the plane. At times, there is damage to the plane’s exterior, “but a strike typically leaves little or no evidence”, said Smith.
Airplane Doors Won’t Open While Flying
(Image source: Skift)
Due to the high cabin pressure, the door of an airplane cannot be opened. Most doors open inward, while others open inward then upward. When the airplane is traveling at normal altitude, the amount of pressure placed against the door is equal to about 1,100 pounds per square inch. You would need Jonny Bravo or Superman to open a door with that much pressure being pushed against it.
Ashtrays Are Still a Requirement
(Image source: Business Insider)
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) legally requires that all airplanes have an ashtray in the plane toilet, even if smoking is illegal. The reason being is that if someone decides to light up, they have somewhere to put it out. And if that does happen, they will definitely be fined a hefty fee, plus face other severe consequences.
Plane Windows Are Round for a Reason
(Image source: YouTube)
There’s a lot of pressure that is placed on airplane windows, which is why they are round, not square. The edges on a square window can experience two to three times the amount of pressure than that of a round one and can break very easily.
16,000 Airplanes Can Be Flying at the Same Time
(Image source: FlightAware)
Data from FlightRadar24, a live flight tracker, shows that there can be anywhere between 13,000 to 16,000 airplanes flying around the world at the same time. The difference all depends on the time of day as well as year—from July or August and January or February, it can get pretty busy up there.