Pilots Reveal the Things Happening During a Flight That Passengers Will Never Know About | 22 Words

Flying on an airplane is different for everybody. For some of us, it's the worst possible thing we can think of doing. We break out in cold sweats weeks before our actual trip, we google plane facts, we talk to everyone in our lives non-stop (pun intended) about flying until they can't bear it anymore and secretly count down the days until our trip is over. Our thoughts are preoccupied 24/7 with the physics of flying and is turbulence actually okay and, and, and.

It's a mess, truly.

For those of us that love flying? It's a breeze! When else can we drink a cocktail at seven in the morning and have it be perfectly acceptable? There's nothing better than plugging in our headphones and zoning out for the duration of the flight. In the air, nobody can bother us. Unless, of course, we sit with someone who doesn't understand the concept of elbow space. That is an unforgivable sin.

So yes, flying is a different experience for everyone. Regardless of whether you love flying or not, you can't deny the fact that what actually goes on during a flight is intriguing.

Have you ever wondered what goes on during a flight that we, mere passengers, don't know about?

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Frankly, I'd rather not know since I really hate flying. But I'm also incredibly curious.

What secrets are pilots and flight attendants keeping from us?

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There's a Reddit thread that asks the question, "Flight attendants and pilots of Reddit, what are some things that happen mid-flight that only the crew are aware of?" And honestly? This thread was made for me.

When you gotta go, you gotta go.

A lady who was feeling very ill crapped her pants mid-flight. A very kind FA managed to get her covered in a blanket and into the bathroom with barely anyone noticing and then gave her a pair of her own pants to wear so she wouldn't be embarrassed. - HippySol

'Weekend at Bernie's' much?

Not sure if it’s been mentioned already. I was learning to be cabin crew at college and in the event that someone dies onboard, the CC (Cabin Crew) make it less obvious that they have passed. Put glasses on them, maybe a hat. Essentially dress them up as subtle as possible to not alert and or panic the other passengers. - cMindge

The immaturity of it all.

I’ve got an original one for you all. There is a radio frequency we all are required to monitor. Its called Guard. It’s for emergency use and is designed for maydays, and for Air Traffic Control to reach aircraft that may have lost radio contact, or to relay messages from aircraft to other aircraft, etc. every day this frequency is abused.

You will hear hundreds of professional aviators meowing, yelling obscenities at each other, and making fun of one airline or another. Often times what will start it is some poor guy accidentally transmitting his PA announcement to passengers on the guard frequency, followed by the very “mature" outbreaks for about 5-10 minutes.

It’s the worst on the east coast. - Gravity88x

Pilots have to text, too.

Pilots are on their phones or reading the newspaper all the time. - AirspeedIsLife

Pilot Insider Info

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Pilot here.

We only get paid when the doors are closed and the push back has commenced. If we’re delayed or sitting with the door open, we’re just as annoyed as you are.

At altitude, we’re constantly in contact with air traffic control and change to different “center frequencies" (or control for other than US locations)

We’re also doing fuel checks to make sure the fuel burn isn’t abnormal, dodging weather, and probably bitching about scheduling. - cornbreadcasserole

A dead what in the what hold?

As said before in the last thread, there is a large list of things that can be broken but the aircraft can still fly.

Often there will be a dead body in the cargo hold.

There is a crash ax just laying around in the cabin. It'll split open your skull (not tested) but it won't actually get through the aircraft skin or windows (tested).

Lavatory doors can be opened from the outside by lifting the metal plate saying "lavatory" and pulling the pin under it.

Both pilots may not eat the same meal, but they might be eating at the same time while the plane flies itself. - llfee

There's a first flight for everyone.

There's a chance your flight could be a pilot's very first flight in an actual jet. He could be fresh out of training, out of the simulator, and actually flying that jet aircraft. Scary, right? Well, that pilot could probably explain every single system of that aircraft in-depth. Guys that have been flying the line for years? Maybe not quite as in-depth. Oh and that brand new jet pilot is flying with a check airman who is there to further teach that new pilot about flying on the line. - Rob9159

Broken Equipment

Planes often have broken equipment onboard, it's just the nature of the business and things break. Can't always fix it, so there is an approved list of things that may be broken, and how long they may be broken before they must be fixed, could be something that doesn't affect us much, like a brake temperature sensor isn't working, or be something that requires some the crew to account for it, like a thrust reverser being inoperative, or navigation GPS in-op. Not stuff that makes the flight unsafe, just maybe more work for the pilots. Also, the Captain can always reject an aircraft if he feels it is unsafe. - Rob9159

Wear shoes to the bathroom.

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Pilot here. Late to the party as usual. But, sometimes the passengers may be having a nice quiet flight in the back while the pilots are upfront dodging thunderstorms and yelling their heads off.

We will not only transport dead bodies but also live transplants, like hearts and lungs. I particularly like the transplants because we get to cut to the front of the line for takeoff and we get all the short cuts to our destination.

Tip for those who get motion sickness: try not to move your head around. Pilots move their eyes instead of their heads to look at the instruments in the flight deck. Also, try to sit in a seat over the wing. This area of the plane doesn't rotate as much during climbs and descents.

Flight attendants can't do a pilot's job, but pilots can't do flight attendant's jobs for sure. We aren't hired for our people skills.

Don't take off your shoes to go to the bathroom. People pee on the floor all the time. - purcerh

What's that smell?

Ex-airline employee here. Often we'd have someone on board with terrible body odor. You can set the temperature [at] one end of the cabin hotter and it localized the smell to one part of the plane. If you see coffee filter bags hanging anywhere its because someone smells like open ass somewhere on the plane.

FAs often talk about the "hot guy in 23B" or whatever seat he's in.

Pilots fuck around a lot up front. They'll take pictures, post on FB, watch movies, automation has taken over a lot of the work on long flights. - Subrookie

This story is my nightmare.

I was only a month or two out of IOE (initial operating experience) at my first airline job, flying right seat in a Regional Jet. I had just come back from the bathroom when the captain pointed that several flight instruments on his side had failed, and he had reverted to using data from my side (basically told his main flight display to start using data from the second independent system).

Soon, however, THAT went bad too, the autopilot disconnected, and here we were at 25,000 ft or so, in icing, hand flying off a tiny little combined last-ditch backup instrument called an IESI (integrated electronic standby instrument, if memory serves).

We declared an emergency, asked ATC to point us in the direction of better weather, and tried to figure out what the hell was happening. The icing on BOTH primary pitot tubes maybe – though that shouldn’t happen (they are heated).

In any case, we ended up making a perfectly safe landing after a diversion, and the passengers never had any idea that, for a few minutes, I was really concerned that things were about to turn very, very bad and that we were down to our emergency backup gauge.

That’s the shortened version without most of the techno-babble anyway. - drrhythm2

I can't tell if this is comforting or not???

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People really have no idea how far planes can glide without engines, you don’t just go instantly crashing to the ground once you lose power. The real problem with losing engine power is you can’t adjust anything on the landing so you basically have one shot. - datboipatrick


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Not an airline pilot yet (just got hired by my first airline and start class next month) but I’ve been a pilot for 6 years. I primarily teach Chinese airline pilots how to fly but I’ve done some passenger operations in business aircraft on the side.

First of all, all the comments about pilots making cat sounds and Chewbacca noises are 100% true. Also, whenever someone leaves an area and switches frequencies, they yell “SEE YUH" and then a dozen other pilots will key up yelling “SEE YA" one after another. We also enjoy talking shit about people who say “with you," “got em on the fish finder," “any traffic please advise," and “tree" and “fife."

Also, the things that scare passengers don’t phase the pilots one bit. We don’t give a shit about turbulence or having to do a go-around. The things I don’t like are things you generally won’t know about - thunderstorm dodging, microburst alerts, ice, maintenance issues, etc. - xdarq

So these planes basically fly themselves, is what you're saying?

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My uncle was a pilot. He says that most people don’t understand how much of the airplane is run by computers. The pilots are necessary but a lot of the elements of flying are automated nowadays. - AnnPoltergeist

But what about chemtrails?

Pilot here, most of the time the passengers are not given the full answer on why a flight is delayed or canceled. Airlines will typically blame cancellations on unrelated events (weather) instead of mechanical issues so they don’t have to pay for hotel rooms/meals etc...

Also, chemtrails are not real. For those of you who believe they are real, give your head a shake. - darbel

At least there's a manual for all of this...

There's a 600-page book in the cockpit with every. single. thing. that can possibly go wrong, from a bulb going out to an engine falling off, a biohazard or a bomb threat. - Exos9

I can't imagine rupturing an eardrum on a flight!

Don't fly with an ear infection or fluid in your ears. There is a chance you can rupture your eardrum. Flight crews are especially susceptible to this since we are constantly going through pressurization and depressurization when we work. - AcromionProcess

It's a normal thing for pilots to make a false landing...

Many a times aircrafts coming in to land go back up in the air. This is a scary experience for many as engines, after being relatively quiet for a while, roar back to life and aircraft is pulled back up. This is called a go-around. This happens because either the runway is not clear, the weather is something that can't be negotiated properly for landing or the pilot is not at the right place and right configuration. Go-Around is something that is emphasized by all the senior trainers and authorities as it is better to go back up in the air than to be in a precarious position while forcing [it] to land. So whenever your pilot does a go-around, be happy that he is a safe pilot. - GrandMasterRobo

They hang tea bags to get rid of the smell???

Ex-airline employee here. Often we'd have someone on board with terrible body odor. You can set the temperature at one end of the cabin hotter and it localized the smell to one part of the plane. If you see coffee filter bags hanging anywhere its because someone smells like open butts somewhere on the plane. - Subrookie

Promise me that you'll NEVER drink the coffee.

Former flight attendant here.

Landing gear got stuck on decent, we flew in circles for ages just waiting to see find out if we needed to crash land or not. Luckily the gear eventually came down, passengers never knew something was wrong.

One time I accidentally spilled coffee creamer on a bald dude's head while he was sleeping during service. I and everyone around him silently agreed to say nothing. He looked as if a bird pooped on his head...I still feel guilty about it.

Never drink the coffee, I have never seen those machines cleaned. - nosayingbagpipe

Excuse me, the flight attendants fart where?!

FA here... crop dusting. Basically farting whilst we walk down the aisle due to the bloating. If you fly frequently there's a high chance a fa has farted right by your head as they walked down the aisle. - MilkySteps

Okay, this sounds like something out of a horror movie...

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The captain had a heart attack and passed away mid-flight and he's the reason we have to have an unscheduled stop, not to refuel.

Edit: I was a cabin crew back for a five-star international airline. - 0ntheverg3

Uh, one in 11 years sounds like a lot to me.

I’ve had one near-collision in my 11-year airline career but have had a few TCAS (Traffic Avoidance Collision System) warnings where the other pilot or myself (depending on who was flying at the time) have had to comply with the airplane’s instructions to climb or descend to avoid another airplane. - therealmirminsky

The pilot was sleeping when???

I worked with a pilot that was really old. He couldn't stay awake in flight. The first officer kept having to poke him and wake him up. We kept feeding him black coffee but it didn't help much. I asked him if he was retiring soon but he said he couldn't afford it because our airline has no pension program and the pay scale is pathetic.

Pretty scary. - abicus4343

I think the crew could use the ginger ale and in-flight beverages more than we do.

As an airline agent, I can’t even tell you how often the crew is hungover. More often than not.

Also, the flight attendants use their personal phones/WiFi inflight but that’s probably not very surprising. - knittedfleecesweater

The dead body thing really is crazy.

Seems the most common thing passengers might be unaware of is the transport of dead bodies, apparently, it happens a lot. - PhantomL1mb

Has all of this information comforted you or terrified you?

It really is insanely fascinating though, isn't it? Even though I don't like flying, I love reading about all of these things.

Good luck not thinking about this thread the next time you get on a flight.

And remember – NEVER drink the coffee!