Why does tomato juice taste so good on an aircraft? Just how long is the longest non-stop route? And is flying really the safest way to travel? We got to the bottom of ten myths about flying.
Pilots and co-pilots aren’t allowed to eat the same meals.
Fact. This isn’t actually an official rule, but it is true that many airlines recommend to their pilots and co-pilots that they shouldn’t eat the same food. Doing this means a theoretical (but possible) situation whereby both people in the cockpit suffer from food poisoning or have a sensitive reaction to a meal at the same time can be avoided, and the airline can know that at least one person capable of flying the aircraft remains fit to do just that – no matter what happens. Other airlines recommend at the very least that their staff eats at different times.
The air conditioning in aircraft spreads germs throughout the cabin.
Myth. Air-conditioning systems on aircraft have to work really hard. Because of the extreme external conditions, they have to regulate not just the temperature in the cabin, but also the air pressure and humidity. The highly specialised air filters also collect bacteria, viruses and dust from the air, and even separate odour particles from the clothes of smokers. These filters are so effective, in fact, that the air in aircraft cabins actually ends up cleaner than the air you breathe in most shopping centres!
Aircraft don’t have a 13th row of seats.
Fact. The aircraft of Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa and many other carriers from cultures in which 13 is viewed as an unlucky number don’t have a ‘Row 13’, because many passengers genuinely don’t like sitting in those seats when taking a flight.
Pilots avoid flying over the Bermuda Triangle.
Myth. The Bermuda Triangle is a large region of sea in the northern Caribbean. The area originally became infamous due to the myth that particularly large numbers of ships and aircraft had simply “disappeared” there under mysterious circumstances. This led to (often fanciful) attempts to explain the ‘phenomenon’, including the theory that the vessels in question had actually been carried off by spaceships or similar. Since the Triangle is quite clearly just a myth, however, pilots never attempt to fly in an arc around the area. They just fly straight over it.
Tomato juice tastes better onboard of an aircraft.
Fact. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute found out in 2010 that while the flavour of tomato juice tends to be perceived as somewhat stale down on the ground, it tastes sweet, fruity and much more like tomatoes high above the clouds. This is because of the lower air pressure on aircraft, which influences our sense of taste. The ‘me-too’ effect could also play a role here, however, since tomato juice is the most popular onboard drink after water.
Flight paths from west to east allow aircraft to travel at higher speeds.
Fact. This is because of what are known as ‘jet streams’. These are extremely strong high-altitude winds which zoom around our planet at between 200 and 500 km/h. The Earth rotates from west to east, so if an aircraft is moving in the same direction, it can use these winds. By contrast, the jet streams work to slow up aircraft moving in the opposite direction.
Flights from east to west give you less jetlag.
Fact. On journeys leading in an easterly direction, our day becomes shorter, so we ‘lose’ time. That means our body clock has to reset itself to adjust. Travelling west is easier by comparison: in this case, we ‘gain’ time and our body clock just has to tick a little more slowly. How well we deal with a time-delay several hours long also depends on what type of sleeper we are: night owls find it easier to travel west, while early risers are better going east.
The body loses 1.5 litres of water in the course of a three-hour flight.
Fact. As a general rule, imagine the following: when flying, we lose approximately the same amount of liquid as if we were jogging, but through the skin and by breathing instead of by sweating. The weather also influences our loss of liquid. In the same way, as on the ground, we lose more liquid on a hot, dry summer’s day than we do on a cool autumn day. So drink lots of water – and don’t worry about needing to go to the loo more often! Movement is very important in its own right, especially on long-haul flights.
Mobile phones play havoc with an aircraft’s onboard electronics.
Myth. We used to think this was the case a few years ago. Today, though, we know that mobiles, smartphones and other devices have no influence on onboard electronics. Since mid-2014, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has allowed the use of electronic devices providing this is also permitted by the airline.
In April the installation on board of A320-Fleet will be already completed und passengers can choose from three different, charged service rates and connect with the internet. Making phone calls will still be prohibited, mind you – not for technical reasons, but to spare the nerves of other passengers.
Flying is the safest way to travel.
Myth. It’s true that aircraft are close to the top of the list of safe means of transport. But only close. The elevator is actually number one. But an elevator isn’t going to get you nearly as far as a plane will.
Have we given you a thirst for flying? If so, then enter your favourite destination in the booking mask today, and find out first-hand just how good tomato juice can taste above the clouds!