Airlines strive to maintain a stress-free atmosphere for passengers and in their efforts to accomplish this leave them in the dark about the risks. 

Seasoned jet-setter Megan—through her YouTube channel, Portable Professional—shares insider information, including the rationale behind dimming cabin lights and the persistence of ashtrays in bathrooms. She also shockingly revealed an ax and crossbow hidden on board every flight. 

Megan’s video sparked commentary from industry professionals, including pilots and mechanics, whose insights we will discuss in this post.

1.) Back Seats Are Safer 

Commercial Jet Seating Plan
Image Credit: YouTube/Portable Professional

The location of your seat on the plane can significantly impact your chances of survival in the event of an emergency landing or, perish the thought, a crash.

The most uncomfortable seats – situated in the middle of the three back rows – allow their occupants the highest chance of getting out alive.

Ironically, these seats are not marketed nearly as much as those at the front of the plane.

@Arthouston7361 who claims to be a career aircraft mechanic agrees with Meghan on this but notes that it is “probably a better idea to be able to get out of the airplane quickly.” 

“For that reason,” he says,  “I typically sit over the wing next to the emergency wing exit…”

2.) Flying Direct Minimizes The Chances of Crashing

A Direct Flight
Image Credit: Pexles/SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS

Statistically, disasters tend to strike mainly during landing. Dr. Omar Memon, PhD in Aerospace Engineering, confirms this in his analysis and claims that more than a million aircraft accidents have occured during landings.

The next most dangerous phase of flight is during take-off which is mainly due to engine failure, fires, debris on the runway, and bird strikes.

Meghan suggests that instead of trying to save money, pay the extra cost for direct flights and minimize the chances of crashing.

In response to this, @chrishebert5672 who weighed in on the video, made an astute observation:

“A direct flight does NOT mean it won’t make a stop or two. Direct just means you will not change planes at any of its stops.”

3.) Why Stash Baggage Under the Seats

Baggage Under a Seat
Image Credit: YouTube/Portable Professional

Have you noticed how strict airline staff are about placing carry-on baggage in the overhead locker or under the seats?

Should the plane change height or direction suddenly as is usually the case with bad turbulence, the luggage may become airborne, and if this were to happen, it would more than likely make contact and injure either you or one of your fellow travelers.

Baggage lying loosely on the floor can also become entangled with your feet and impede you when you need to make a hasty exit.

4.) Why Trays Need to Be Folded Away

Aircraft Tray
Image Credit: YouTube/Portable Professional

The cabin crew emphasizes the passengers’ stowing of laptops and closing of tray tables during take-off and landing. 

This is also a safety measure and is in place for the event of an emergency–emergency landing included. 

By having the tray folded away, passengers can exit their seats quickly and cabin crew can get to those still in their seats with as little hindrance as possible.

While the cabin crew may not tell you to fold your tray away during the flight, it is advisable to have them open as little as possible as sudden jolts could result in injury.   

5.) Why Cabin Lights Are Dimmed

Nightlights From an Aircraft Window
Image Credit: YouTube/Portable Professional

Cabin lights are dimmed during take-off and landing after dark to allow customers’ eyes to readjust. 

This is done so that should an accident occur with an ensuing blackout, passengers’ eyes would already be accustomed to low light conditions.

The dimmed lights will also help passengers see the neon floor markings leading to the emergency exits and see outside, where in case of an emergency, rescuers will be trying to reach them.

6.) Why Cabin Window Covers Are Open for Takeoff and Landing

Closing A Window Cover
Image Credit: YouTube/ Portable Professional

Cabin window coverings must be opened during take-offs and landings so that passengers’ eyes can adjust to the level of light outside the aircraft, and rescue workers can see into the cabin in a rescue situation.

World-renowned aviation training center, BAA, says that aside from providing the passenger with situational awareness, the opened shades allow the crew to see what is going on outside the aircraft including the state of the engines and wings.

7.) Every Seat Should Have a Life Vest Under Them

Attendant with Lifevest
Image Credit: YouTube/Portable Professional

Every seat should have a personal flotation device (better known as a life vest) underneath them, but do they? Meghan says that airline customers sometimes nick these devices resulting in some seats not having one.

For this reason, it is prudent to ensure a life jacket is under your seat before take-off, and if not, notify the cabin crew. 

This action will undoubtedly cause a delay because it is required by law that every seat on a commercial plane is paired with a life vest.

Customers caught removing them are liable to fines, prosecution, or bans.

8.) Seat Cushions are Flotation Devices

Aircraft Seat Cushions
Image Credit: YouTube/Portable Professional

Though not a secret, a lesser-known safety feature is the seat cushion. Aside from its primary function as your best friend on an eight-hour flight, it is a flotation device.

Aviation Substack concurs: “You remove your seat cushion and hold the straps on the back as a flotation device.”

@user-cv8ih9qg7kw who is an aircraft mechanic, weighed in on Meghan’s revelation. 

They claim to have tested one of these cushions for buoyancy and wrote: “Once waterlogged it may barely keep your head out of the water but it will definitely help.”

9.) Axes and a Crossbow on Every Plane

Image Credit: Unsplash/Brands&People

An ax and a crossbow? The Express confirmed part of Meghan’s claim in 2017 already. According to the news publication, said ax is secured in the cockpit behind the commanding pilot’s seat.

It is not a weapon but rather for the event that a fire breaks out behind one of the cockpit panels or elsewhere on the plane.

As for the crossbow, if commercial planes keep them on board, nobody is saying (except for Meghan–who is not saying much about it anyway).

10.) The Tiny Hole in Every Window

Hole in a Window
Image Credit: YouTube/Portable Professional

While everyone looks through the portholes and very likely sees the pinprick in the fiberglass, nobody speaks about them. 

According to Meghan, these tiny pores are called bleed holes and regulate cabin pressure while preventing the windows from fogging up.  

11.) Ashtrays in Every Bathroom

Cigarette and Ash Tray
Image Credit: YouTube/Portable Professional

Despite the nearly three-decade-old commercial airline smoking prohibition, there are still built-in ashtrays on commercial aircraft. This is not an oversight.

While the feature is unmarked so as not to encourage the practice, it is there for the event that some nicotine-dependent individual misbehaves. 

Be that as it may, the hyper-sensitive smoke detector in the loo will trigger if it detects even the slightest trace of something burning. 

This will result in the cabin crew asking the culprit to desist and later lead to their arrest, but it does not detract from the fact that the cigarette needs to be extinguished somewhere. 

That is what that ashtray is for.

12.) Lavatories Can be Opened From Outside

Lavatory Sign
Image Credit: YouTube/Portable Professional

Using the toilet on a commercial flight is not as private an affair as you think. 

Below the lavatory sign on every bathroom door is a hidden latch that allows a knowledgeable person like a cabin crew member to unlock the door from the outside.

“In addition to not smoking, consider that before doing anything questionable in an airplane bathroom. Not the place,” Meghan warns.

13.) Air Pockets Cannot Be Detected on the Radar

Schematic of Aircraft and Air Pockets
Image Credit: YouTube/Pocket Professional

Air pockets, also known as clear air turbulence, are much more dangerous than normal turbulence because they cannot be detected on radar.

These up- and downdrafts strike suddenly and can throw passengers and crew out of their seats.

For this reason, pilots stay strapped in throughout the flight, and passengers are advised to do the same even after the fasten seatbelt signs have been turned off.

14.) Why You Should Keep Your Shoes On at All Times

Shoe and Laces
Image Credit: YouTube/Portable Professional

Taking your shoes off during a flight is a hygiene and bacterial hazard. Keep them on “at all times especially if leaving your seat,” Meghan warns.

Going to the bathroom barefoot or even in your socks is ill-advised because “those little droplets on the ground [in the bathroom] aren’t always water.”

“The aisle floors also accumulate germs that are tracked out of the airplane bathroom so by keeping your shoes on you’re not just avoiding the unpleasantness of bathroom spills but you are also protecting yourself from a variety of germs that could lead to a variety of foot conditions,” Meghan explains.

15.) Commercial Planes Are a Disease Risk

Air Hostest With a Face Mask
Image Credit:Pexels/ jamies.x. co

The close proximity of passengers in aircraft cabins poses a risk for disease transmission

This factor is compounded by the quick turnaround times and haphazard cleaning regimes. 

To minimize the risk of contamination, do not touch seat belt buckles, inflight magazines, menus,  trays, and pockets without sanitizing them first. 

Meghan notes that the fold-out trays – yes the ones that you eat on – are known to be unhygienic.

Another way to fortify against airborne disease is by keeping air vents open. The constant downdraft will make it difficult for airborne germs to settle on you.