Sometimes the pilot falls asleep
It’s not an easy job being an airline pilot, and fatigue is a problem on long-haul flights. These days, long flights allow downtime for the crew on the flight deck, using the same kind of rest compartment as the cabin crew. Occasionally, a pilot may fall asleep at ‘the wheel’. A British study showed almost half of the pilots questioned admitted to micro sleeps in the cockpit. It’s not too much of a concern though, as the autopilot on most big planes does nearly 90 per cent of the flying – plus there’s a co-pilot there.
Why cabin lights are dimmed
It’s one of those little rituals for take-off and landing. The reason the lights are dimmed is to prepare for an emergency. Our eyes adjust quicker in the event of a darkened cabin and the floor lights and exit signs will be easier to see. It might be a hassle for reading, but remember it’s for our safety!
There are handcuffs on board
If a customer gets too rowdy, they may find out just how proficient flight attendants are in dealing with them. It’s a last resort option, but being able to physically restrain an out-of-control or violent passenger is essential for the safety of everyone on board. The handcuffs are like a flexible cable tie.
Secret sky marshals
It may sound like something from an action movie, but sky marshals do exist. Highly trained, plain-clothes agents are armed and capable of neutralising any terrorist threat that could be on board. You’ll never know who it is unless they’re called into action. It could be the woman two rows ahead or the skinny guy next to you playing with his phone. Don’t expect them to bust up a drunken row – they’re strictly there to deal with threats from terrorism.
Planes are no places for germaphobes, that’s for sure! It’s rare for a plane on a busy schedule to get a thorough sterilisation, and your tray-table – where a previous passenger may have changed a nappy – may have had only the slightest of wipes with a dry cloth. The blankets are often reused without being laundered, and as for those headphones, someone has used them before you. Use the blankie for legs only and bring your own headphones.
Secret sleeping quarters
Ever wondered how cabin crew manage to keep up with the rigours of working a long haul flight? An important component is making sure all the crew gets a chance to sleep. Tucked away in most large airliners is the CRC or Crew Rest Compartment. This tiny sanctuary may be a little cramped, like a capsule hotel in Tokyo, but it offers tired crew a chance to take a well-deserved nap before the next meal service.