I'm a flight attendant and here's why turbulence really IS terrifying – and other plane myths busted | The Sun

AFTER a decade of working on board planes, I know a thing or two about how they work and what goes on during flights.

What's more, I also know what myths are true about flying – and which ones are total nonsense.

In the second of my weekly blogs for Sun Online Travel, I'm going to separate fact from fiction and reveal why some of the things you think you know about planes are in fact a load of rubbish.

Flight attendants are afraid of turbulence

Your cabin crew may look calm and collected when the plane starts shaking, but inside we know that it can be really dangerous.

We are trained to deal with different levels of turbulence, they range from moderate to severe and then extreme.

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Of course, turbulence is a common thing on a plane and if you hit a little pocket of air on a plane, it's going to cause a little bit of shaking and nothing more, but if you hit anything we would consider 'extreme' we know it can be really dangerous.

In those instances, we're instructed to store anything as safely as possible and quickly strap ourselves in.

I know people who've hit the ceiling, broken limbs and been flung through the cabin – it can be a really scary thing. And when you're flying as much as we are, chances are you will experience it at some point.

For anyone who is really scared of turbulence, my advice would be to sit as close to the front of the plane as possible because it acts like a wave.

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What starts as a slight bump at the front of the aircraft can feel much worse by the time it reaches the rear.

Sometimes passengers at the front won't even be aware of anything, while those at the back get really badly shaken up.

Flight attendants can restrain you – and we're even trained to do it

So many times, I've heard angry passengers saying we don't have the authority to do anything to them – and it's a load of nonsense.

Although this is different depending on which airline you're on, we have the authority to restrain passengers, and most of us are trained and equipped to do so.

The one thing we cannot do is ask for assistance from passengers.

We're allowed to accept help from people if they offer, but if a passenger is kicking off and there's a big muscly bodybuilder who isn't doing anything to help us – we sadly aren't allowed to ask them to, no matter how helpful it might be.

We have cable ties and straps on board, and it's at the cabin commander's discretion if we do restrain someone, but if a passenger needs it, we aren't just going to leave them to be a risk to the rest of the cabin.

Once they are strapped up, then it's up to the captain to decide whether or not the flight continues to its destination, or is diverted for safety.

Regardless of where we end up, those passengers will not be unstrapped until we get there. We aren't going to risk letting them loose again, so if they need the toilet or anything, they'll just have to hold it in, or ruin their underwear.

So maybe think about that before getting too angry next time you're on a flight.

Passengers cannot open plane doors mid flight

I've heard stories of passengers threatening to open doors mid flight, usually drunk ones, which is a physical impossibility.

At around 60 to 80 knots, the plane doors will be sealed shut by the outside pressure, so until we land and the plane comes to below that speed again, those doors are staying shut, no matter what force comes from inside.

However, sometimes the pressure does funny things to the doors that can scare people inside, even the flight attendants.

On certain planes, the door handles have been known to start sliding and moving as if the doors were opening themselves.

Even if that happens, the pressure will be strong enough to keep the door in place, so it's nothing to worry about.

The air on board planes won't spread diseases

Following Covid-19, people are more worried than ever about flying, with rumours that the recycled air increases your chances of getting diseases.

If that were the case, there'd be far more cases of illness outbreaks after flights.

There's sometimes hundreds of people on planes and chances are someone's going to have a bug of some kind, but the air system on board isn't going to spread it any more than normal.

The air system on board works by regularly replacing the air in the cabin with air from outside the plane, meaning any germs or bugs will be ejected from the plane mid-flight.

Therefore, the air you're breathing is much more likely to be pure and fresh, than full of germs.

Planes don't drop toilet waste in mid-air

This is something that a lot of passengers seem to believe, but it's just not true.

We have tanks on board the plane that store all of the sewage, often at the back of the aircraft.

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When the plane lands, the waste is taken away by a "honey truck" which then sends it on to the sewers.

So if you see a plane flying overhead, there's no need to worry – you're never going to end up underneath an unwanted shower.


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