At a dinner party last night, I was thrilled to find out that one of my fellow guests was a pilot who’d once worked for a major commercial airline. Naturally, I couldn’t resist grilling her (career day style!), and the insider info she had on airline travel was pretty fascinating. Ever wonder what the pilot knows that you don’t? Read on.
1. The plane isn’t going to crash-land if you accidentally leave your cell phone on.
So why do flight attendants tell you to turn all electronic devices off? Well, the cell phone signals could, in theory, interfere with the plane’s satellite navigation instruments—but the truth is they’re so well insulated that it won’t actually happen. (That’s not to say you shouldn’t make a habit of doing it anyway—just to be safe.)
2. Pilots can’t take bathroom breaks.
You might never have considered it,. but what happens if the captain has to pee? Well, it’s an arduous process. A pilot who needs to make a visit to the, uh, facilities must first alert the flight attendant, who has to block the galley with her cart. While the pilot is out of the cockpit, the flight attendant must take his place, waiting until he comes back to switch out. Warning for future pilots everywhere? Don’t overdose on the iced tea. “When you have to go, it can be kind of a pain,” admits my pilot. “The flight attendants might be busy serving dinner or the drink service, and then you have to wait and wait.”
Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member John Spreitz