Common myths about airplanes and the flying experience persist even among the well-traveled. As passengers, we don’t always see the behind the scenes of the air travel industry, and few of us understand exactly how a plane works. So is it true that turbulence is a bad thing or that airplanes will give you a cold? The team at GlobalEntryServices.org has collected some of the most popular rumors surrounding air travel. We tracked down explanations from experts to help you separate the nonsense from the common sense. While we ended up debunking most of these rumors, a few turned out to be true.
Using cellular services or internet during takeoff is dangerous. When you fly on a plane these days, you’ll always hear the flight attendant tell you to power down your phones or other connected devices, including laptops and tablets, as the plane takes off and lands. Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) claim that passengers must do this for safety reasons, as a plane full of passengers using internet-connected devices could interfere with the plane’s electronic system. Devices now come with an “airplane mode” for this very reason.
Most experts and officials believe that using internet-connected devices during takeoff and landing is simply not a problem. Airplane electronic systems are protected by a strong shield that can probably stand up to this level of interference. Airlines and the FAA are taking a careful approach, however, since there are still a few unknowns when it comes to this issue. The team at GlobalEntryServices.org recommends following the rules. A text can always wait, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Yawning or chewing gum helps to prevent painful ear popping during a flight. This piece of conventional wisdom is actually true, as some might already know from experience. Many travelers experience a painful phenomenon called “airplane ear,” the result of changes in altitude. Chewing gum or yawning during the plane’s ascent and descent helps to open the ear’s Eustachian tubes and allows the pressure in the ears to equalize.
The air in an airplane cabin is teeming with germs. Actually, the air in planes is much cleaner than the air in most buildings. Planes use an air circulation system that totally replaces the air every two or three minutes. The system uses hospital-grade filters that capture almost all of the microbes in the air.
Airplane food trays are teeming with germs. While the air in an airplane is fresh and clean, the same cannot be said for the plane’s surfaces. Along with food trays, be mindful of the potential for germs on armrests and lavatory handles. These surfaces can collect all kinds of germs left by other passengers. The team at GlobalEntryServices.org recommends bringing sanitary wipes to clean these surfaces and hand sanitizer to keep your hands germ-free.
When you drink on a plane, you will get drunk more quickly. This myth is simply not true. The myth says that the lower oxygen level at 12,000 feet will make you more sensitive to alcohol. In terms of the alcohol’s effect, there is no difference between drinking on a plane and drinking in a bar.
In the event of a crash, it’s actually safer to keep your seatbelt unbuckled. This one is not true! In certain plane crashes, passengers without seatbelts can be thrown from the seat and sent crashing into another passenger or part of the plane. Some passengers believe that an unbuckled seat belt will allow them to escape from a crash scene more quickly. However, it’s safer to just wear the seatbelt and unbuckle it when necessary.
A bird colliding with a plane will cause the plane to crash. Most travelers have heard about the experience of the pilot Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, who had to make an emergency landing after a flock of geese collided with one of the plane’s engines. Frequent flyers may be surprised to learn that planes collide with birds all the time. It’s rarely a problem, and passengers remain completely unaware.
Turbulence is bad and signifies danger for the plane. While turbulence is uncomfortable and often unnerving, passengers can rest assured that the experts in the cockpit are not the least bit concerned about it. Turbulence is simply an unsteady movement of air caused by winds and variations in air masses. The plane’s technology keeps the airplane completely safe during these turbulent times. The only safety issue related to turbulence is the risk of injury from not wearing your seatbelt. The team at GlobalEntryServices.org recommends always complying with the plane’s warning system and buckling up when required.