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25 Things That Your Pilot Won’t Tell You

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With big companies it’s almost always about the bottom line. And airlines are generally big companies. While some of the following things are a bit disturbing, others are just laughable. These are 25 things that your pilot won’t tell you but would if he could.

25. No, you’re not imagining things, airlines really have adjusted their flight times to give themselves a better track record of on-time arrivals.

24. Most of the time, how you land is a good indicator of a pilot’s skill. So if you want to say something nice to a pilot as you’re getting off the plane, say ‘Nice landing.’ We do appreciate that.

23. I’m constantly under pressure to carry less fuel than I’m comfortable with. Airlines are always looking at the bottom line, and you burn fuel carrying fuel

22. At some airports with really short runways, you’re not going to have a smooth landing no matter how good we are: John Wayne Airport; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Chicago Midway; and Reagan National.

21. Sometimes the airline won’t give us lunch breaks or even time to eat. We have to delay flights just so we can get food.

20. There’s no such thing as a water landing. It’s called crashing into the ocean.

19. Pilots find it perplexing that so many people are afraid of turbulence. It’s all but impossible for turbulence to cause a crash. We avoid turbulence not because we’re afraid the wing is going to fall off but because it’s annoying.

18. I’ve been struck by lightning twice. Most pilots have. Airplanes are built to take it. You hear a big boom and see a big flash and that’s it. You’re not going to fall out of the sky.

17. There is no safest place to sit. In one accident, the people in the back are dead; in the next, it’s the people up front.

16. The smoothest place to sit is often over or near the wing. The bumpiest place to sit is in the back. A plane is like a seesaw. If you’re in the middle, you don’t move as much.

15. If you’re a nervous flier, book a morning flight. The heating of the ground later causes bumpier air, and it’s much more likely to thunderstorm in the afternoon.

14. We’re not trying to ruin your fun by making you take off your headphones. We just want you to be able to hear us if there’s an emergency.

13. We ask you to put up the window shade so the flight attendants can see outside in an emergency, to assess if one side is better for an evacuation. It also lets light into the cabin if it goes dark and helps passengers get oriented if the plane flips or rolls over.

12. Cold on the airplane? Tell your flight attendant. We’re in a constant battle with them over the temperature. They’re moving all the time, up and down the aisles, so they are always calling and saying, ‘Turn up the air.’ But most passengers I know are freezing.

11. The general flow of air in any airplane is from front to back. So if you’re really concerned about breathing the freshest possible air or not getting too hot, sit as close to the front as you can. Planes are generally warmest in the back.

10. I know pilots who spend a quarter million on their education and training, then that first year as a pilot, they qualify for food stamps.

9. Do pilots sleep in there? Definitely. Sometimes it’s just a ten-minute catnap, but it happens.

8. People tend to think the airplane is just flying itself. Trust me, that’s not true. It can fly by itself sometimes. But you’ve always got your hands on the controls waiting for it to mess up. And it does mess up.

7. We don’t wear our hats in the cockpit, by the way. On TV and in the Far Side comic, you always see these pilots with their hats on, and they have their headsets on over the hat, and that always makes us laugh.

6. Remember this before you complain about the cost of a ticket: Fares today are about the same as they were in the 1980s.

5. The truth is, we’re exhausted. Our work rules allow us to be on duty 16 hours without a break. That’s many more hours than a truck driver. And unlike a truck driver, who can pull over at the next rest stop, we can’t pull over at the next cloud.

4. Some FAA rules don’t make sense to us either. Like the fact that when we’re in the air going 500 miles per hour flight attendants can walk around freely but when we’re going 10 miles per hour on the runway they have to be buckled in like race car drivers.

3. I may be in uniform, but that doesn’t mean I’m the best person to ask for directions in the airport. We’re in so many airports that we usually have no idea

2. Although you may think you’re on a big name airline, many times you’re actually flying a regional airline. And what the public doesn’t know is that regional airlines aren’t held to the same safety and training standards as the big dogs.

1. We miss the peanuts too.

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