Myths regarding air travel can come from all sources – a family member, a chain email, a Facebook status or even from a news site. But many “travel tips” are actually myths that are either completely untrue, or no longer apply. Here, I will expose some common air travel myths so that the next time you step on a plane, you can have a peace of mind.
TIP: Learn real tips from seasoned travelers here
MYTH: Wearing a suit or dressing nicely will score you an upgrade
This is one of the most often told myths, and it is simply not true. Commercial aviation is a very calculated business, with tickets carefully priced based on departure date and time, and sometimes even what seat you choose. So why would airlines who go great lengths to cut costs – former American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall famously removed an olive from in-flight meals, and saved the company $40,000 per year – give out free upgrades to passengers who simply dressed nice? Answer: They don’t.
Upgrades are given out to frequent fliers, those who generate a lot of revenue for companies and therefore airlines have greater incentive to keep them happy. Dressing up certainly wouldn’t hurt your chances, as, say, if there are no elites on a flight (very, very unlikely), they may choose a passenger dressed smartly as opposed to someone dressed in rags. But the odds of such an event occuring are so miniscule, it’s not worth dressing up like its the 1960’s for it.
If you want a chance of an upgrade, sign up for the airlines frequent flier program and start flying.
MYTH: It’s easy to get sick on a plane
The thought of 350 people crammed in a plane for 20 hours may seem like the perfect place to spread germs. However, the HEPA air filtering system on a plane actually completely changes the cabin air every two to four minutes, making the air quality in a plane similar to that of a hospital. Other than drier skin and chapped lips, there are not a lot of health issues to be worried about on the plane.
MYTH: Certain seats are safer than others
We’ve all heard that if a plane crashes, sitting in the back can be safer, or that sitting next to the wings is the most dangerous. This is a myth because there are just too many variables and too many ways in which a plane could crash; a fire on-board would probably make it safer to be seated near the exits, but malfunctioning exit doors could come loose, and thus passengers sitting close to the door would be sucked out.
Truth is, the National Transportation Safety Board released a report citing a 95% survival rate after studying accidents in the United States for over 20 years. You might have heard that flying is safer than driving – now that is sound advice, and is no myth.
MYTH: Watch out for the crazy guy opening the door in-flight
Every so often, a story comes up about an “unruly” or “drunken” or “deeply disturbed” passenger who attempts to open the emergency exit door in the middle of a flight. Unless you are traveling with Superman, there is no need to worry, although the unruly passenger should still be confronted to avoid any other safety threats he could pose.
At 30,000 feet, the pressure difference inside and outside the plane makes it essentially impossible to open the door mid-flight. This has been well documented by the Federal Aviation Administration, but for every story you hear, how many of them successfully open the door anyway?