11 Strange Details About Airplanes That You Probably Never Noticed

These days, hopping on a plane for a quick weekend trip is about just as newsworthy as going to the grocery store. Nevertheless, unless you work for an airline, airplanes and the actual act of “flying” is probably a bit of a mystery to you.

We all know the basics of how to conduct ourselves on planes, but we think it’s time that we educate ourselves on how these incredible flying machines function the way they do.

Here are 11 stunning, scary, and head scratching details that you may have never noticed on even your longest of journeys.

  1. Flight attendants walk with their hands behind their backs

    Flight Attendantteamtime via Deposit Photos

    The cabin crew does this for two reasons: 1) to project an air of formality and 2) to keep you safe. If you look closely at their hands as they walk by, you will notice that they are carrying a small hand tally counter. That’s right—this is their way of ensuring everyone is seated without having to point or cause confusion. Smart!

  2. Window shades are raised during takeoff and landing

    window seat womanvsurkov

    No, it’s not meant to cut into your “snooze time”. This is actually a common safety measure used by the cabin crew to guarantee that nothing is going wrong with the exterior of the plane (mainly the wings) during the most dangerous times of the flight—takeoff and landing.

  3. Pilots have access to axes and crowbars

    axGianluca via Flickr

    Ever taken a peek into an open cockpit before? If so, you may have spotted a small emergency ax or crowbar attached to the back of the pilot’s seat. These tools were originally placed in commercial planes in case of an electrical fire, but, in at least one known case, the tools were used to counteract threats of terrorism.

  4. Drop-down oxygen masks don’t come equipped with much oxygen

    oxygen maskR. Crap Mariner via Flickr

    Warning: this fact is NOT for the faint of heart. Ever wondered how much good those drop-down oxygen masks will do you in an emergency? Turns out the average mask only allows for about 15 to 20 minutes of air flow before it runs out. Yikes!

  5. The pilot and co-pilot don’t eat the same meal

    airplane mealSarah_Ackerman via Flickr

    If you’re the fan of the movie Airplane, then this one actually makes quite a bit of sense! The idea here is that serving two different meal options – e.g. lasagna and chicken – won’t sicken both pilots if contaminated.

  6. Your pilot knows English

    pilotsJetstar Airways via Flickr

    Even if you are on an international flight back from Timbuktu, your pilot WILL speak English. It’s a fairly new safety regulation which was enacted in 2008 to ensure that air traffic controllers could better communicate with pilots flying around the globe.

  7. There are germs EVERYWHERE

    woman coughing on airplaneleungchopan

    From the food to the seat pockets to the tray tables—there are germs and scary strains of bacteria all over the plane, with MRSA and E. coli being the most commonly identified. Further proof that you should load up on plenty of Vitamin C before your next vacation!

  8. Some of your fellow passengers may be dead

    casketSusan Buck Ms via Public Domain Pictures

    Many airlines have special procedures for handling and transporting human remains, so it’s not a shocker that there could be bodies stored in special compartments on your next flight. It may be an unsettling thought, but for the family members of the deceased, the service truly is a blessing.

  9. You only have 90 seconds to exit the plane in an emergency

    airplane cabinabdallahh via Flickr

    If you are a conscientious passenger, you probably already know about this—it’s not like the fact isn’t printed in all of the safety manuals. Nevertheless, it is an unsettling thought, and one that should convince you to pay special attention during your next flight’s safety demonstration.

  10. The lavatories come equipped with built-in ashtrays

    no smokingKen Hawkins via Flickr

    It’s strange to think that, in most people’s lifetimes, passengers could still freely smoke on airplanes. And while the practice was prohibited years ago, airlines have still kept the metal ashtrays in the bathrooms, just in case someone gets the idea to light up mid-flight. The rationale here is that, if someone DOES smoke, at least the butt will be safely extinguished.

  11. Planes that are used in long-haul flights contain secret bedrooms

    Young girl with sleeping mask with headache, cant sleepphoenix021 via Dollar Photo Club

    Unfortunately, these bedrooms aren’t meant for passengers—they were built to give flight attendants a break on very long international flights. Though the idea of a full-sized bed probably sounds rather nice to most travelers, don’t get too jealous—they are hidden in compartments that would make just about anyone feel claustrophobic!

We bet you didn’t know that airplanes held so many secrets! Have you noticed any of these features on a flight before? Do any of them scare you? Do you have another that you would like to add to the list?