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Air travel urban legends: facts vs myths!

A man travels on an aeroplane's wing holding an umbrella. Air travel myths and facts revealed by paid surveys. Share your thoughts in opinion polls and take online surveys from home

Air travel is still the safest way to get from A to B – but are the rumours you’ve heard true? Here are the facts vs. myths, according to specialist surveys!

Air travel myths dispelled by paid surveys

One famous online survey revealed that 28% of Brits dislike flying – but are their fears unfounded? According to leading aviation experts, there are several myths lurking around that simply aren’t true, which may contribute to people’s uncertainty about taking to the skies. A meta analysis of many online surveys, safety survey and interviews with air experts revealed what are ‘scare stories’ and what actually is based on fact. Here are the rather interesting results!

Online survey myths about flying safety

According to those who share their thoughts in opinion polls, the number one fear comes from the risk of crashing. However, despite some well publicised (rare) incidents, air travel is the safest form of transport in the world. This remains true: fewer than one flight in 300,000 had an accident, and only one in 3,000,000 was fatal. So, yes, it is safe - and statistically a fear of flying is therefore irrational. Apparently.

Another popular myth is that lightning could strike the plane in flight and cause a crash. According to surveys, planes get struck regularly, but an aeroplane has not been downed by lightning since 1967. All aeroplanes have to pass safety tests which prove that, if they are struck by lightning, the current simply flows through the exterior of the plane. So don’t be too nervous next time you fly through a storm as this is indeed a myth.

Some say they fear the cabin door being opened mid flight, meaning you’ll be sucked out. This is another myth. The cabin is so highly pressurised that opening the doors when the plane is at cruising altitude is pretty much impossible. So don’t worry next time someone leans up against the doors whilst waiting for the loo.

One myth which often does the rounds is that the air in the cabin is filthy and full of germs. This is also a myth. In truth, the air is so heavily filtered it carries far fewer germs than most public crowded places. There are also underfloor filters to capture airborne microbes on board. Caught a cold after being on an aeroplane? Fact – don’t blame the air in the plane – health and safety surveys say it’s much more likely to be a dirty tray table, many blanket or mucky luggage which makes you ill. Stay well by packing the anti-bac.

Online survey facts about flying

Several safety surveys have shown that, in the unlikely chance of a plane ‘incident’, there are safer places to sit statistically. Fact: If you sit at the rear of the plane you stand a 40% higher chance of survival than those at the front (good news people like me who look over at first class enviously), and the chances are even better in the rear middle and aisle seats.

Feeling thirsty? Don’t drink aeroplane tap water. Fact. An online survey in the US found that the water in 1 out of every 7 planes did not meet safety standards. Maybe it is OK to drink wine instead then?!

If so – FACT – you don’t get drunk more quickly at altitude. This has been tried and tested and there is nothing scientific to support the idea that you get drunk faster when you're at a cruising altitude. It’s possibly due to the availability of drinks (and boredom) which makes people drink more. But beware of over-indulgence – dehydration will make hangovers worse.

Not very useful but here’s another interesting fact - British Airways passengers consume six tons of caviar per year. That is a LOT of fish eggs (and perhaps another good reason to sit near the rear of the plane).

Other silly stuff – what’s fact and what’s fiction?

  1. MYTH: Toilet waste is dumped mid flight. (It’s actually held in a tank and emptied responsibly the other end)
  2. FACT: All aeroplanes must have ashtrays in the toilet. (Although smoking is banned, they must provide a safe place to dispose of ends, should someone break the law)
  3. MYTH: You can get stuck on the loo if you flush when sitting down. (You may feel strong suction but you won’t get stuck)
  4. FACT: Toilet doors can be unlocked from the outside, as well as in. (This is for safety reasons – so best not to do anything untoward in there, just in case)
  5. MYTH: You can get high from the oxygen masks. (Sorry to be boring – the masks supply oxygen rich air to allow passenger to simply breathe normally)
  6. FACT: Pilots and co-pilots eat different food. (This isn’t a hierarchy thing – some are encouraged to eat different meals to one another to avoid food poisoning affecting the entire crew)
  7. MYTH: The brace position serves to kill you/keep teeth close by/reduce lawsuit claims. (You should listen to the safety briefing, pre-flight. The FAA say that multiple studies and surveys have shown that ‘in an attempt to take a brace position of some sort, the passengers will end up in a position which could result in less injury than if no attempt had been made at all’)

So there we have it – a few facts and myths uncovered. Enjoy your next flight – you’re in very safe hands – just don’t forget to keep washing YOURS after touching that tray table.



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