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9 (slightly scary) secrets that cabin crews don’t tell you about flying

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Chris Sayer
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“Your exits are located here, here and here, and BTW, don’t drink the water.”

If all cabin crew were sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, this is the sort of pre-flight announcement we could expect to hear before climbing to 33,000ft.

The kings and queens of ‘service with a smile’ may be non-stop beaming from ear to ear as they serve you that delicious mid-air lasagne, but behind those perfect hair dos and happy faces lies a bunch of airborne secrets that have never been revealed unto paying customers.

Until now.

A user at question-and-answer site Quora recently asked: ‘What are some things that airline cabin crews know, but won’t tell you?”

The answers flew in, with a handful of seasoned air stewards and stewardesses dropping some unexpected truths and tips that we’ll definitely be keeping in mind before jetting off on our summer holidays. Buckle up, because here's our pick of the best…

Images: Rex

  • 9 (slightly scary) secrets that cabin crews don't tell you about flying

    Airlines sometimes reuse blankets and pillows

    “The blankets and pillows get reused over and over again. They just fold 'em up and put them away for the next flight,” Busko said.

    Sudewo agrees: "It depends on how cheap the airline is, but I've had my share seeing [the cleaning team] refolding the blankets for the passengers on the next flight to use. At least they were generous enough to replace the pillow covers and the headrest covers."

  • 9 (slightly scary) secrets that cabin crews don't tell you about flying 1

    Plane water sucks

    "The water from the plane is disgusting," an anonymous flight attendant said. "I feel truly sorry for our coffee and hot water drinkers. That water is in a tank under the plane and I've never seen that tank be cleaned out."

  • 9 (slightly scary) secrets that cabin crews don't tell you about flying 2

    You're gross for not wearing shoes to the toilet

    "We think it's disgusting when you do not wear shoes into the lav," Kelly said. 

    "I only use the lavatories on the airplane if I need to wash my hands or if I absolutely have to go to the bathroom," said an anonymous cabin crew member. "If it's a short flight and I can leave the plane, I'm definitely waiting until I can use the bathroom in the airport."

  • 9 (slightly scary) secrets that cabin crews don't tell you about flying 3

    Cabin crew eat way better than you do

    "Our meals are slightly better than the passenger meals, and even though it depends on the airlines, we also get fresh fruits, pickles, bread rolls, desserts, beverages. Basically we have at least a trolley dedicated for the crews," said Fatihah. 

  • 9 (slightly scary) secrets that cabin crews don't tell you about flying 4

    If you're about to crash, you'll know about it

    "We will tell you if we are expecting to crash," says another anonymous source. "The captain will give you the same information that we know if there is time and then we will begin emergency landing procedures. My job is to make sure we all get out alive, so of course I would want you to be as prepared as possible."

  • 9 (slightly scary) secrets that cabin crews don't tell you about flying 5

    Don't even bother asking for an upgrade

    "There's really no point in asking for an upgrade," an anonymous source says. "We get asked during boarding to be upgraded but at my airline, flight attendants do not handle ticketing/reservations (totally different department). We do not know which seats will be occupied until we have our final manifest which is after boarding and right before the boarding door is closed.

    "At my airline, we have rules against unauthorized upgrades and we can only move you into a different cabin if it is a safety related issue and we cannot move you within your ticketed cabin. If you feel like an upgrade is compensation for [something] the company has done, the best course of action would be to resolve it with the company so they can document it. I've seen my fair share of blatant scamming (everything from self injury on the plane, to sob stories) for upgrades which is why we will not move anyone unless there is a very legitimate reason. Many of us will fly the same routes, and yes I've seen the same passenger try to pull the same scam twice. Also, it can be seen as unfair to our passengers who actually paid for their premium cabin seats/ earned it with their airline loyalty status"

  • 9 (slightly scary) secrets that cabin crews don't tell you about flying 6

    It's a good idea to hand over your magazine once you're done with it

    "It meant the most to me when people would say 'good morning' in return as I greeted them when they got on the plane," says flight attendant Lisa Lent. Teresa, adds:. "We also loved it when someone would offer us their magazine after they were through with it. It's always those little things that made a big difference."

    "[Your magazines are] great to flip through while we break in the galley with the curtain closed," says Kelly. 

  • 9 (slightly scary) secrets that cabin crews don't tell you about flying 7

    You don't even know how drunk you're getting up there

    "Due to the high altitude, alcohol is more powerful when you're on a flight," says Fanny. 

    "Sometimes if we think you've had too much to drink, we'll serve you, but not serve the whole mini-bottle of booze," adds Ellen. "We may just dip the rim of the glass in enough vodka or gin and fill the rest with mixer."

  • 9 (slightly scary) secrets that cabin crews don't tell you about flying 8

    You may have delayed the entire flight with your bathroom break

    "There's a sequence to taxiing and getting in line for takeoff," says Sara. "If somebody gets up to use the restroom, we have to tell the cockpit, and they have to stop the plane and wait until the person is back in his or her seat and buckled up. During that time we could lose our spot in line."

    Ellen adds: "Moving the 300-pound drink cart back to the galley against gravity after you've pulled it all the way to the front because one passenger needs to use the restroom is the most annoying thing ever."

  • 9 (slightly scary) secrets that cabin crews don't tell you about flying 9

    Bring your own headphones

    "Airlines who provide those cheap foam headphones hardly or even NEVER bother to replace the foamy-like ear parts. So please ALWAYS tear them once you use them just to make sure that they will replace them," says Fatihah. 

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Chris Sayer

Chris Sayer is a freelance journalist and editor based in London. Chris has interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment and travelled the world doing an all manner of adventures for lots of brilliant magazines. He writes for Shortlist about booze but would probably prefer we let him write about fishing instead. Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisSayer00

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