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.
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Airline Pilot
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."

Published: 4 Mar 2011 | Last Updated: 9 Jan 2013
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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