Despite the fact that so many people travel by plane every single day, there still persists an overwhelming number of myths surrounding air transportation. These myths are part of the reason why so many people are still scared of flying.
Whether you are a frequent flyer, employed permanently in the skies, work as an aircraft parts supplier, or are preparing for your first plane ride ever, here are five myths about air travel that mislead even frequent flyers.
1. Cell phones interfere with a plane’s computers
Due to the ongoing reminders to “put mobile electronics in airplane mode” (and the fact that it is even called airplane mode), the myth that cell phones are dangerous for planes has continued to persist. Why else would they make us switch them off?
However, the truth is that airplanes run on entirely different frequencies than smartphones, so there’s no way for them to interfere with each other to cause an accident.
So, why the concern?
Well, when you are flying, if your phone is on international roaming, it will strive to connect to various cell towers at once (rather than just one at a time like when you have both feet firmly planted on the ground).
The Federal Communications Commission is the organization that has banned cell phone use on airplanes so that the hundreds of thousands of people flying on planes won’t clog up the lines for the people on the ground.
2. Plane accidents are at a higher risk during storms
No one enjoys turbulence, not even the most frequent of frequent flyers. However, you may not realize that storms don’t actually put planes in any real danger.
Planes are built to withstand storms and other severe weather conditions, and pilots are specially trained in how to handle them. Technologies such as Aeroshell Grease 22 are used whenever and wherever severe operating conditions are anticipated or encountered.
Thanks to these improvements, there is almost never a plane accident due to lightning or thunderstorms (and it has been decades since one occurred). So, when those high winds – and lightning – start, plug in your headphones and continue watching your movie. You will be fine!
Turbulence is utterly annoying but pretty typical.
3. Compensation is assured if your flight is cancelled
Frequent flyers may or may not have realized that not all airlines compensate when a flight is cancelled.
Usually, if the cancellation is due to a mechanical issue, a lack of a crew, or some other reason where it is obviously the airline’s fault, then you will receive some form of compensation (usually miles or money to spend on the airline again!).
However, when it comes to weather-related delays or something equally out of the airline’s control, then you are (most likely) not owed anything to cover the cancelled flight, any hotel rooms that need to be booked, or meals and transportation.
4. Flying causes more damage to the environment than driving
There is no denying the fact that airplanes are horrific for the environment mainly because of the large carbon footprint involved in travel. However, the fact that airplanes seat so many people actually makes travel by plane greener than driving in a car for long distances.
Planes tend to average 89 mpg per passenger, which is far higher than even the most efficient hybrid cars. And, aircraft are becoming more energy efficient year by year, while carriers seek to further the use of biofuels to decrease carbon emissions further.
5. Alcohol onboard a flight is stronger than on the ground
While it is best not to drink while on a plane (to help with your jetlag), it is a myth that alcohol is somehow stronger while you are on a flight.
The truth is that you just feel the effects more when you are in the air!
Because an aircraft cabin is pressurised, your body is likely to experience some of the common effects of altitude sickness in a mild form. Even if you don’t realize it, your body is trying to adapt to you being temporarily suspended up in the air. When you add alcohol to the mix, you are setting yourself up to feel tipsy rather quickly.
As the altitude sickness might not reveal itself until later into the flight, if you start drinking early, you may proceed to feel drunk for a long time even after you terminate your drinking session.
So the next time you are worried about a little turbulence, get confused why you didn’t get compensation for a cancelled flight, or think that the airline has access to incredibly strong wine; remember, these are all just myths.
About the Author
Viktoria Grokhovskaya is an independent aviation expert currently working within the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry in the UAE. She received her bachelor’s degree in Management and a Specialist Diploma in Economics and Management at the Enterprise from Astrakhan State Technical University.