Demystifying airline myths

14 Feb 2020 by Anithya Balachandran

The internet is constantly bustling with airplane myths and conspiracies by the second. Recirculated air in planes spread disease, what if the cabin door opens mid-air and a small hole in the aircraft will lead to everyone being sucked right out are few random thoughts that have crossed our minds at some point in time. 

Therefore, we thought of debunking some common myths about flying:

  • Possible to open the cabin door during flight: The answer is no and it all has to do with the air pressure. At 30,000 feet, the air pressure outside is extremely low. Therefore to maintain the pressure inside at a survivable level, air needs to be pumped into the airplane. Since airplane doors open inward, this difference in pressure (internal cabin is at a higher pressure than the outside) causes the door to stick outward against the aircraft seal,  making it impossible to move it using human force.
Mobile phone inflight
  • Using mobile phone during takeoff and landing will lead to a plane crash: This is not true. However, as a safety precaution, aviation regulatory bodies and airlines ask passengers to keep their mobile devices switched off or in airplane mode, even though it hasn’t been proved yet that electronic devices interfere with the aircraft’s navigation system. Additionally, the cabin crew wants passengers to pay attention to the safety demonstration, so that in case of an unforeseen situation the latter is able to take the necessary action.
  • Toilet wastes are dumped during flights: This is one of the most popular misconceptions. The waste is stored in an isolated tank, and goes into a ground sewage system after landing. There is no system  for pilots to dump the waste while in air. That said, lavatory leaks do occur in the air— remember the incident where frozen human waste fell from the sky on Fazilpur Badli village in Gurugram district of Haryana
  • You get drunk faster at higher altitude: There is no clear evidence that drinking at a higher altitude, particularly in planes, gets you drunk faster. However, some studies state that pressurised cabins may lower oxygen levels in the blood, thereby leading to the flyer feel drained and jet lagged, but not completely sloshed.
lightning strike
  • Lightning causes the plane to break apart: Does lightning cause the plane to break apart? No, it does not. Modern aircrafts today are designed keeping in mind these aspects. In fact, every plane you fly has likely been struck by lightning at least once during its lifetime, though lightning won’t bring it down.
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