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8 Things You Need To Stop Believing About Air Travel

Wed, 08/30/2017
Flying Myths

Air-con makes you sick
There is a common misconception that airplane air conditioning spreads colds and flu, however a recent article by the New York based magazine Travel & Leisure covered the findings of Dr. Mark Gendreau (medical director and vice chair of emergency medicine at Lahey Medical Center in Peabody Massachussets) and it seems that turning off ventilators might be a bad move. Gendreau told them that the HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters actually help clear away dust and microbes because when they are all on the air will pass through them between 15-30 times in an hour. Around half of the air circulating in the cabin will be coming from outside and filtration systems on planes can actually kill up to 99% of airborne microbes. Plus, keeping your own vent on will help push the air (and airborne viruses) around you out of your face and to the ground quicker anyway. In fact, viruses are more likely to spread through unclean surfaces on the plane (like your seat, tray table, armrests) than through its ventilation system. A study in 2007 found that more than half of airline tray tables had traces of MRSA. So pack a jumper, whack up the air con and wipe down surfaces with your own anti-bacterial wipes (or don´t touch them at all) if you want to avoid catching anything on your long-haul.

You get drunker if you drink at high altitude
There is some truth in the fact that you may feel like the alcohol is having more of an effect on you because the altitude and low pressure of the cabin mean less oxygen is circulated to the brain. But you blood alcohol level does not change depending whether you are in the air or on the ground, the only thing that can change you blood alcohol level is purely how much you drink. Perhaps the idea that you get drunker on flights came from the way people tend to drink on flights, often consuming more in a shorter space of time than they normally might.

Oxygen masks are there to calm passengers
Thanks to the movie Fight Club there has been a rumor circulating since 1999 that oxygen is only there to get passengers high and so that they are “calm as Hindu cows” if there is any danger, emergency landing or other high risk events during a flight. This is actually nothing but a myth that has (worryingly) become widely accepted as truth. The oxygen masks are there to help you breathe in case the cabin loses pressure, they will prevent hypoxia (oxygen deficiency), so if you are ever in an aircraft and they get released from the compartment above your head, use them!

Airline staff must be able to speak at least four languages
It depends on the airline, but most staff are only required to speak the language of the country where the airline is based and English.

You save money by booking way in advance or at last minute
Contrary to popular belief, booking months and months in advance or waiting until the last minute won´t mean cheaper fares. If you book any earlier than 6 weeks in advance then you´re likely to get the airline starting prices, before any discounts are added in the rush to sell seats. If you book any later than a month in advance prices will probably only keep rising until the day you fly, that´s because airlines know that last minute travelers often need to sort out a flight and will pay any price in their panic to make sure they are where they need to be.

Someone responsible needs to sit next to the door, because you don´t want them to be opened mid flight
The part about somebody responsible sitting in the door seat is one hundred percent right, but the reason most people think is utter rubbish. Airplane doors simply cannot be opened whilst in the air, even Hulk, Chuck Norris and Superman together would struggle to open the door. So how come skydivers and military can open doors and parachute from planes? It all comes to down pressure. The aircraft used for skydiving and paratroopers are not pressurized, but commercial flights are, so the doors are firmly stuck in place by the pressure on the inside of the cabin, like a huge bath plug.

It’s dangerous to fly through a storm
Although pilots do avoid thunderstorms, it’s not because they are overly dangerous to fly through, its more about the comfort and peace of mind of passengers. Storms cause really uncomfortable turbulence for passengers, plus flyers are more likely to freak out if they fly through a storm and that can cause more danger to the flight than the weather itself. The one thing that might endanger a flight is being hit by lightning (which is extremely rare) as it might damage some systems, but this does not mean the aircraft will be knocked out of the sky and it should still be able to land safely.

You get compensated if you are delayed
This myth is half true, you are indeed entitled to claim compensation for delayed flights, but not all delays. Get Paid When Delayed is dedicated to passenger rights and can help you work out whether you are liable to claim and how much you might be owed, as well as aid you in starting your claim by generating a personalized claim letter for you to send to the airline.