When it comes to airplane travel, ignorance can be bliss. But, if you’re sick of just sitting there and going through the motions, we asked some flight attendants in the know to tell us about 13 of the biggest secrets in the biz. Don’t be surprised if you’re left wishing you didn’t know about some of these.
If you don't want to get stuck with hefty baggage fees, try gate checking. As long as your bag isn't ridiculously huge (and you're not carrying any liquids over 100 mL), you can often get away with bringing your suitcase all the way to the gate and then checking it there. Not only will you avoid paying any annoying fees but you also won't have to wait at the carousel for your bag as it will be back at the gate once you land.
Lock your suitcase. Sure, luggage locks are pretty easy to break but at least they provide an annoying deterrant to anyone interested in checking out what you packed. Even if you're carrying your bag on, you may need to gate check so make sure that your belongings are protected with a lock.
If you can avoid it, leave your furry friend at home when you travel. Unless you can carry them onboard, the underside of the plane is a terrifying place of darkness, loud noise and limited oxygen.
You may think taking off in the rain is scary but it's actually those scorching hot days when the air is really thin where take offs can be the biggest challenge. Airlines have been known to decrease baggage weight allowances on really hot days to ensure they are able to take off.
Don't be fooled by the smooth oxygen mask demonstration on the plane. According to flight attendants, masks have been stowed up in those compartments for so long that they often don't actually pop out when you need them. Also, the reason they tell you to put your mask on before helping children is because if you don't, the altitude will make you pass out and then you won't be able to help anyone.
Airplane bathrooms can be opened from the outside. This is obviously for security reasons but next time someone is taking a little too long in the lavatory, look around to see if you can spot the hidden lock to give them a warning to hurry things along. Hint: It's often hidden under the 'No Smoking' sign.
Don't be fooled, electronics are not going to cause your plane to crash -- at least not intentionally. The reason the captain asks you to turn off all electronic equipment during take-off and landing is so that they don't have to listen to all of the interference as an entire plane of cellphones attempt to pick up a signal.
In general, any fluids that don't come from a bottle should be avoided on a plane. For one thing, the tank for drinking water is located uncomfortably close to the tank where waste is stored during the flight and in many cases, it is rarely cleaned and tends to be riddled with mold. If you want to play it safe, avoid drinking things like coffee or tea unless you see it being made with bottled water and whatever you do, steer clear of the water in the lavatory.
Every wondered why there are ashtrays in the bathrooms of even new planes when smoking has been banned for years? According to flight attendants, the ashtrays are there on the off chance someone does choose to violate the rule. If there wasn't an ashtry, they would most likely use the garbage can which is much more dangerous.
Ever notice how they dim the cabin lights right before you land -- particularly for night flights? This is a way of preparing you just in case something goes wrong with the landing so your eyes will quickly adjust to the darkness.
Why is it that some landings are particularly bumpy? It's on purpose, claim flight attendants. Many pilots consider landing more of a 'controlled crash' as they are often forced to touch down hard, particularly if the runway is wet, to break through the water barrier so they won't hydroplane across the runway.
Surely you've noticed those flaps on the wings popping up when your plane is about to land. Aside from helping the pilot navigate the air, these flaps can be used as a signal to the ground crew about what's going on inside the plane. Left up once the plane is on the ground, these can signal distress or a potential hijacking situation.
Don't bother putting 'Fragile' stickers on your luggage. According to flight attendants, this just gives baggage handlers an excuse to be extra rough with your stuff -- moving luggage all day can get boring, right?! If you have something that really is fragile, carry it on with you or make sure it's extra padded to endure a rocky trip.