6 Things Every Pilot Immediately Notices When Flying as a Passenger (That You’ve Never Even Thought About)

Unless you’re specially trained in a particular field, you won’t notice the little things that an expert would. To prove that point, we get to read articles with input from experts who reveal secrets from behind the scenes.

That holds true for people like chefs, mechanics, and airplane pilots when they’re in the customer’s seat. Do you ever wonder if a pilot is still in the “pilot zone” when he flies as a passenger? Yes, they are! Their plane rides are on a different level.

The information shared in this Travel + Leisure video will help to shed light on some things we often overlook when we take our seats and hit the sky. You may be interested in learning that pilots have a sixth sense that kicks in when they’re passengers. Here are some of the things they catch:

  1. Ice Buildup

    In cases of severe ice accumulation, crews remove it from the outer surfaces of the plane. Though planes have a special layer of material to prevent ice formation, certain conditions can still cause it to happen.

    Pilots may notice some ice on the wings or windows during the plane’s descent, which indicates that you could be in for a bumpy landing.

  2. Suspicious Smells

    If you were driving in your car and noticed a weird smell, you’d be concerned. While your average traveler may attribute airplane scents to be a normal part of the ride, trained pilots know otherwise. Odd smells could indicate something is off with the plane like a fuel problem or toxic fumes.

    Those of you who have been on flights with strange odors may have had to endure being grounded or a turnaround so the problem could be addressed.

  3. Emergency Exit Locations

    Be honest, how many of you pay attention to the safety video and know where every emergency exit is? Mm hmm. Pilots know planes inside and out and can pinpoint each exit no matter the condition of the cabin. They pay special attention before takeoff.

    While you’re struggling to find which seat is closest to that hatch, pilot passengers can zoom in on them in seconds, especially during a real disaster. If you’re fortunate enough to have such a person on board your flight in the event of a crisis, that’s who you’d want to follow.

Click on the clip below to hear more about what these flying experts pay attention to when they’re passengers who are (almost) like us. For us regular folks, learning to pick up on these signs like a pro can help prepare for changes during a trip.

We know that some of you have enough to worry about as an air traveler including turbulence, jet lag, queasiness, and pure nerves. Others just want to kick back, nap, or cruise through a peaceful flight free of peculiar smells, sounds, sights, or problems. Though this insider info won’t prevent every mishap, it helps to be in the know.

Will you start paying attention to these things now too the next time you fly? Do you have a pilot or other aviation professional in your circle?