Did you Know?

Read below for some Interesting Facts about Airports, Airlines and Air Travelling, that you probably didn’t know.

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  • All International Airline Pilots must speak English. The ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) standard is that English is the only official “universal” language for telephony in civil aviation. This essentially means that all official communications in the Air Traffic Control system should be available in English in order to be considered ICAO Compliant.
  • Flights longer than 8 hours require 3 pilots (1 captain and 2 first officers) to rotate flying duties. Flights longer than 12 hours require 4 pilots (1 captain and 3 first officers). They usually fly 3-4 hour shifts.

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  • Though it’s technically not mandated by the FAA, each airline pilot flying the aircraft, eats a different meal to minimize the risk of all pilots on board being ill.
  • The height requirement for Flight Attendant is for safety reasons, making sure that all flight attendants can reach overhead safety equipment.
  • Dimming the lights for takeoff and landing isn’t a mood effect. It’s done so passengers’ eyes can adjust to the dark, just in case there’s an emergency that shuts off the lights. Similarly, flight attendants have passengers raise their window shades during landing, so they can see outside in an emergency and assess if one side of the plane is better for an evacuation.
  • Keeping the blinds open while take-off and landing is for the passengers to spot any fire in the wings or to spot any vehicles in the tarmac so they could alert the crew.
  • Instruction to fasten the seat belts and to make the seat upright while take-off and landing is primarily for the safety of the passengers. But it also stabilizes the centre of gravity of the aircraft and helps controlling the plane.
  • It’s impossible to lock yourself in the bathroom. Do you ever notice how the flight attendants flip a little switch on the lavatory door before takeoff and landing? That switch locks the door so it won’t fly open and can be flipped on or off at any time.
  • An air traveler can lose approximately 1.5 liters of water in the body during a three-hour flight. That dry air saps the water from your body, to the tune of about 8 ounces an hour, which is roughly a two-litre bottle during a 10-hour long-haul flight. Stay hydrated, friends.
  • You lose out on a third of your taste buds during flights. About a third of your taste buds are numbed at altitude, which is why the savory flavors in tomato juice are enhanced — a big reason why people crave Bloody Marys and think they taste so much better on planes.
  • The safety instructions on most flight include how to use the oxygen masks that are deployed when the plane experiences a sudden loss in cabin pressure. However, one that thing that the flight attendants don’t tell you is that oxygen masks only have about 15-minutes worth of oxygen. That sounds like a frighteningly short amount of time, but in reality that should be more than sufficient. Oxygen masks drop when the airplane cabin loses pressure, which means the plane is also losing altitude. Pilots respond to that situation by moving the plane to an altitude below 10,000 feet, where passengers can simply breathe normally, no extra oxygen required.

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  • Ever notice trails left by planes. Those white lines that planes leave in the sky are simply trails of condensation, hence their technical name of “contrails.” Plane engines release water vapor as part of the combustion process. When that hot water vapor is pumped out of the exhaust and hits the cooler air of the upper atmosphere, it creates those puffy white lines in the sky. It’s basically the same reaction as when you see your breath when it’s cold outside.
  • Some airplanes have secret bedrooms for flight crew. On long-haul flights, cabin crew can work 16-hour days. To help combat fatigue, some planes, like the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliners, are outfitted with tiny bedrooms where the flight crew can get a little shut-eye. The bedrooms are typically accessed via a hidden staircase that leads up to a small, low-ceilinged room with 6 to 10 beds, a bathroom, and sometimes in-flight entertainment.

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  • The largest passenger plane was the Airbus 380 – nearly 240 feet long, almost 80 feet high, and has a wingspan of more than 260 feet. The double-decker plane with a standard seating capacity of 555 passengers is being retired after just 12 years in commercial service.  The A380 is expensive for airlines to fuel and maintain. Filling up an upwards of 550 plus seats look impressive on paper, but troublesome from a business perspective. The aviation industry is about “putting butts in seats,” as the saying goes. So if you can’t fill up those seats the airline is in serious trouble.
  • You ever notice that little hole in the bottom of your window? That little hole in the plane window might save your life. That’s the breather hole, and besides keeping in warm air so you don’t get too chilly, it regulates pressure — ensuring that should anything happen to the outer pane of the window, the pressure won’t cause the inner pane to break, at which point you’d suddenly be sucking in oxygen at 35,000 feet.

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  • Usually, turbulence only drops you a few feet in the air. Though you might feel like you’re on the top floor of Tower of Terror, run-of-the-mill light turbulence only drops the plane a few feet in altitude. Moderate turbulence — the kind pilots tell the flight attendants to sit down for — moves the plane 10-20 feet. Severe, white-knuckle, talk-about-it-for-the-rest-of-your-life turbulence might move a plane 100 feet in the most extreme circumstances.
  • The average Boeing 747 has around 150-175 miles of wiring inside it…and about 6 million parts and is more fuel efficient than a hybrid.
  • Planes can fly with one engine, and land with none Not that the pilot is going to get on the intercom and tell you about it, but commercial jets are designed to fly with only one operable engine. And can glide their way to the ground with no engine power at all. So if your plane breaks down mid-air, you’ll still likely land in one piece!
  • There’s a red light on the left wing and a green light on the right. At night, it’s hard for pilots to see other aircraft. Every plane has a red light on the left wing and green on the right, so other pilots can easily identify which way the plane is facing and what direction it’s going.

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  • King Fahd International Airport, Dammam Saudi Arabia tops the list of the 10 largest airports in the world by size. With a total area of 780 square kilometers, the airport’s total area exceeds that of the country of Bahrain! Most of the property, however, is not put into use. In fact, only 37 square kilometers are dedicated for airport usage. That is only about 5%!

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  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is the busiest airport in the world.  Retaining the title since 1997, Hartsfield-Jackson remains in the pole position,according to the Airports Council International’s world traffic report, which was released on Sept. 16, 2019. More than 107 million passengers scurried along its lengthy concourses, rode its underground train (the Plane Train) and were lifted up and down its vertigo-inducing escalators, making it the busiest passenger airport in the world for 21 years in a row.
  • Changi Airport Singapore is voted the World’s Best Airport 2019 by international air travellers for the seventh consecutive year.

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  • KLM -Royal Dutch Airlines is the worlds’ oldest airline which was established in 1919. It recently celebrated 100 years of flying high!

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-M

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Baby on Board !

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I love kids. The quiet, cute and cuddly kinds.

They make me all mooony when I see them throw an unintended smile at me. I wish I could lip-bite into their chubby cheeks or just tickle them on their tummy.

However travelling with them ….well that’s a completely different story!!

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I did travel a lot with my young ones. And although travelling with 2 little boys was quite a handful, I was mostly lucky when they would sleep through most of the flight. But you can’t be lucky always now can you?

There were always instances when everything would go topsy turvy, with either one of them being absolutely crabby, and then I would be spending most of the flight carrying them around the aisle so that the rogue would keep quiet!

Seriously, I would be a reck myself hoping that the fellow passengers do not throw me off the plane as well!!! And back in those days we didn’t have the luxury of travelling with mini screens full of entertainment to keep the tots occupied till they got tired and fell asleep.

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Travelling with a ‘hangry’ cry baby can be a nerve racking experience especially on a long haul flight. After all, tots can be messy, tantrum throwing, and easily bored little creatures when confined to a cramped aircraft seat.

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Some of the tips that I am about to share have helped me survive on what otherwise would have been every flyers worst nightmare!

  • Carry their favourite toy or their ‘security blankie’ always. It keeps them secure and comfy.
  • Monitor their eating even on a plane. If it means having to carry some of their favourite snacks, it will be well worth the trouble. Remember if they are fed they will be less cranky. Keep an empty bottle handy which you can refill with water every now and then to keep them hydrated.
  • Carry their activity books, some Flash cards or sticker books or you can even use that in-flight magazine to play I Spy, or even let the child interact with other flyers as long as they are both enjoying it.
  • Pack a few items which are multiple purposes. Baby wipes, for example, can be used to clean messy hands or tray tables or get food off of clothes. A fleece jacket can also be doubled up as a blanket, pillow or even help you cover up if you are a nursing mother.
  • In this digital age don’t be too strict with ‘screen time’ while travelling with kids. Download their favourite content before you set out. That way they will be quiet and comfortable, and so will you.

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Plan your trip the best you can — and then just roll with it. Booking red-eye flights, for example, or flights that coincide with nap times, can help reduce the need for a lot of in-flight entertainment.

While you plan hotel accommodations, don’t forget to stay somewhere with space to explore. Kids hate being cooped up in small spaces. So to avoid meltdowns, try to stay near places that they can run around and explore.

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TOP TIP: Put empty water bottles in hand luggage and refill them after security.

TOP TIP: Psychologists say young, nervous flyers like to feel in control of their situation and that toy planes they can pretend to fly may help

TOP TIP: Be ready with distractions if your children don’t like seat belts and have sweets at take-off and landing to avoid blocked ears.

TOP TIP: Cabin crew say one toddler is sick on almost every long flight, which is why children need top-to-toe changes of clothes and parents need spare T-shirts. It’s why wet-wipes and plastic bags for smelly clothes are ‘must-carry’ items.

TOP TIP: Try to catch a few winks when your baby is asleep. It will renew your energy too.

TOP TIP: It’s a good idea to let the child roam around and stretch their legs at airports in between inter connecting flights.

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To be clear, these tips aren’t meant for everyone. Every kid — not to mention every trip — is going to be different. What you plan to do and where you plan to go may mean that some of these suggestions just aren’t feasible. And that’s completely OK.

And lastly keep your composure. There’s not much you can do to tone down that passenger who complains the moment your child sneezes or giggles. Here’s what you need to remember: As long as you’re trying (and what parent isn’t?), you’ve got almost everyone on your side.

 

Safe travels

Madhavi

 

 

Passengers behaving badly – a ‘Flightmare’

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Oh, please excuse me while I go on a rant here!

Air travel was like being in a five star hotel some decades back. Flying used to be a treat in itself. Passengers would dress up; skirts and heels for women, coat and often a tie for gentlemen.

Good hot meals along with beverages were usually included across all classes of travel and the service was impeccable and served with a cloth napkin and real silverware—spoon, fork and yes, a sharpened knife.

‘Air hostesses’ -the young women with big smiles and bright uniforms greeted every passenger graciously and courteously.

I am talking about the 70’s and 80’s here, when flight travel was not so common, but exciting and very special for flyers.

And the best part, travellers behaved!!

Today, air travel is the most popular method for traveling. And as more and more people take to the not-so-friendly skies, what with the fares being as competitive, stories of rude, disgusting and selfish behavior of many a ‘first time air traveller’ abound.

And as for a dress code, its non-existent; with many passengers dressing as if they are headed to the beach or about to go back to sleep in their dirty sloppy PJ’s no less. They get on planes and decide to behave in ways that drive you beyond your limits of tolerance.

Err, excuse me but the airplane is not an extension of your home. You are travelling  with 200 strangers. When the captain says “Relax and enjoy the flight,” this does not give you the permission to start behaving like you own the airline and start treating staff with utmost disrespect.

From changing their baby’s diapers on the dinner trays — leaving the soiled ones in drink cups for the cabin crew to take away, from  either cramming their cabin baggage in the overhead bins or stashing it away under your seat, from reclining their seat almost into your face, from refusing to turn off the smart phone, from kicking the seat in front, from playing loud music in cabin, from smoking in lav, from inappropriately touching the cabin crew to sticking their bare feet on your armrest from the seat behind you and of course how can you forget ‘mommy’s darling’ who runs across the aisle causing pandemonium across the plane.

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And don’t even get me started about the passenger seated in the middle seat. A lot of passengers rate the battle for the armrest as one of their very greatest peeves. The battle for arm rest superiority has long plagued travellers, with awkward social etiquette and downright confrontation. If the window seat gets the far armrest, and the aisle gets their own, what’s the story with the middle? Well last I heard that Jetstar, in a press release announced that the middle seat is entitled to both armrests – and that’s final.

Well if you are seated on either corners, I pray you are not literally on a flight to hell.

Badly behaved passengers are obnoxiously present world over and in general gross behaviour is unfortunately, becoming the norm.

But what, though, can you do about it? Yes, you can complain to a crew, who may be reluctant or even powerless to stop certain passenger behaviors, however, you try and politely just bear it without even grinning.

But seriously, Why are passengers behaving badly? 

Are we becoming a nation of rude narcissists? Basic, decent behavior has been lost with day-to-day living in a bubble where you feel like YOU are the most important person on this planet. The sense of entitlement and privilege is exemplified by the thought: “I want to do what I want, when I want…. and I will!”

And to make matters worse this bad behavior is contagious. The ‘If he can do it, why can’t I?’ mindset continues to flourish and our “It’s all about me” society continues to rumble out of control.

Don’t you think it’s time that Airlines need to have a ‘dress code’ so passengers will know ahead of time what will fly and what won’t. And maybe include a ‘behaviour code’ as well in their contract of carriage and acceptance of passengers.

However as a fellow passenger there are certain things you can do and follow these common sense guidelines:

When the meal service is on, with trolley carts in the aisles, its best to avoid making trips to lavatories unless absolutely important. This helps both, the crew and other passengers too.

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Tension between cabin crew and passengers often arises from the strict safety directives on board. Though passengers may find them restrictive, crew members must ensure that safety rules are abided by. After all, cabin crew are on board primarily for passengers safety along with the service ,but it has been taken for granted by lot of passengers thinking that cabin crew are mainly at their beck and call.

  • If you have an unruly passenger near you, try to calm him/her down, but don’t waste your time on this if the individual is out of control – simply proceed to the next step, which is press the call button and let the trained cabin crew take over the situation. Some carriers have Air Marshalls on board who are trained to handle aggressive passengers.
  • Do not panic in case of turbulence. Stay calmIf you start panicking, it’ll just add to the chaos and might complicate the situation further. But yes, easier said than done.
  • Leave it to the professionally trained cabin crew. Stay in your seat – but if you’re blocking a cabin crew’s access, get out of the way. Try to find an empty seat and use it.
  • Be helpful if asked. Don’t intervene unless the crew requests help. If you’re the least bit unsure if you can render assistance, let someone else do it.
  • And finally brace yourself for delays. If the captain decides to divert the flight to drop off the passenger to law enforcement authorities, there’s nothing you can do about it but resign yourself to a delay.
  • Well, travelling in groups is fun but air travel seems to be a challenging one for people travelling in group. Most of the passengers in group wants to stand in the aisle chatting with their friends causing hindrance to cabin crew tasks and won’t even occupy their original assigned seat. Cabin crew needs to be firm with them to ensure safety is not compromised during any phase of the flight keeping in mind nobody’s sentiments are hurt.

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Are we really living in this world of arrogant and egoistic passengers where basic etiquette are forgotten by some of our esteemed passengers? You may have read about the case of an Irish passenger who spat on an AI crew for not serving more alcohol, in Business class, last November and was arrested on landing. Well, she was finally convicted of assault by a British court, early March.

Many countries ‘blacklist’ unruly passengers from flying. Our Ministry of Civil Aviation has recently come out with guidelines for such passengers on Indian domestic flights. Unfortunately not a single passenger has made it to that list. What a shame!

Travel safe, travel sane.

Madhavi

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