Travel tips actually confessed by employees of airlines can be hard to come by these days. Below are some of the secrets of pilots, flight attendants, and engineers when it comes to flying that travelers do not have knowledge of as compiled by The questions answered by these airline employees were posted on Reddit. Here's to hoping these flying travel tips will help travelers broaden their knowledge and be just as courageous traveling our wonderful world.

TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 1: When it comes to oxygen masks

If the oxygen masks drop down, passengers only have about 15 minutes of oxygen from the point of pulling them down. However, that is more than enough time for the pilot to take the plane to a lower altitude where people can breathe normally.

More importantly, at high altitudes, people have 15-20 seconds before passing out. Put yours on first, then do your kids. Passing out for a few seconds won't harm the kids.

TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 2: When it comes to the water in lavatories

Whatever you do, do not drink the water in the lavatory. It is bad enough to "wash" your hands in it. Airlines sanitize the water tank at selected maintenance intervals, however parasites build tolerances to these cleaners.

Check the outside of the aircraft when walking in. If the paint isn't in good condition, then the plane is most likely not in good condition as well. Skydrol (hydraulic fluid) is a nasty fluid and will dissolve everything. So if the paint is missing, it's most likely from a skydrol leak. No one wants a hydraulic leak at 35,000 ft in the air. As you can't just pull over and top the reservoir off.

TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 3: When it comes to the lights on the airplane dimming when landing

When a plane is landing at night, they dim the interior lights in case you need to evacuate upon landing... your eyes are already adjusted to the darkness so you'll be able to see better once outside the plane.


TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 4: The pilot's power when it comes to lightning

Apparently planes get struck by lightning all the time. Also if a passenger is causing a scene in the jetway, he can refuse to let them on and take off without them.

The captain has almost limitless authority when the doors are closed. He is allowed to arrest people, write fines and even take the will of a dying passenger.

TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 5: Lavatories can be unlocked from the outside

Airplane lavatories can be unlocked from the outside. There is usually a lock mechanism concealed behind the no smoking badge on the door. Just lift the flap up and slide the bolt to unlock.


TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 6: Story of a real bomb threat

I have a friend who's a commercial pilot. Around five years ago he was doing a flight from LA to Tokyo when an anonymous caller phoned in a bomb threat while they were over the middle of the Pacific. Apparently they have procedures for this kind of thing, but there was nothing anyone could do in this situation except stay calm and not alert the passengers (obviously). He said for the rest of the flight every bump of turbulence made his adrenaline spike. They took this case especially seriously because there was a group of foreign dignitaries sitting in the first class cabin.


TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 7: When it comes to food on the plane

A few little things about airlines:

  • 2 pilots are served different meals and cannot share, this is done in case of food poisoning.
  • Stealing food, even if they are going to throw it out can get you fired instantly. You can ask your supervisor, but you cannot take food. They don't want people messing with it.

TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 8: When it comes to flying with pets

An aircraft fueler confessed this:

One thing I cannot stress enough is how your pets are treated. While your airline will take the best possible actions, some things cannot be avoided, like the noise on the ramp. I cannot stand out there without ear protection, and imagine your pet sitting out there on the ramp waiting to be loaded onto the plane being exposed to the same amount of noise I am. Please people, think twice before flying your pets.

TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 9: What flight attendants do after telling the plane to turn off their electronics?

After flight attendants tell everyone to turn off all electronics, some flight attendants just go back to their seats and pull out their phones to text.


TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 10: How to make more space for yourself

Arm rests - aisle and window seat: Run your hand along the underside of the armrest, just shy of the joint you'll feel a button. Push it, and it will lift up. Adds a ton of room to the window seat and makes getting out of the aisle a lot easier.


TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 11: Never drink water on a plane that didn't come from a bottle

A former Lufthansa cargo agent says to never ever drink water on an aircraft that did not come from a bottle. The reason is that the ports which purge lavatory wastes and refill the aircraft with potable water are within a foot of each other and sometimes serviced all at once by the same guy. This doesn't always happen, but if you're not on the ramp watching, you'll never know.


TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 12: Why you have to lock your bags

Lock your bags, including carry-on bags.

Look online or in a travel store for TSA-approved locks. The TSA has keys to open those locks in case they need to further inspect them (and hopefully not steal from them). Most people don't think to lock their carry-on, but especially now with load factors very high, more and more people are having to gate check bags. Once you drop your bag at the end of the jetway for gate-checking, anyone from a fellow passenger, to a gate agent, to a ramp agent has access to your bag.


TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 13: How a pilot approaches landing

Hard landing in bad weather isn't because of a lack of pilot skills but is in fact intentional. If the runway is covered in water the airplane has to touch down hard in order to puncture the water layer and prevent aquaplaning.

"Landings are nothing more than controlled crashes", according to a pilot.


TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 14: Why tipping could go a long way

Nobody tips flight attendants. If you happen to tip a flight attendant with your first drink you'll probably drink for free the rest of the flight.

TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 15: Pilots just sleep most of the time

1/2 of the time pilots sleep while flying and 1/3 of the time they wake up to find their partner asleep.

TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 16: Not all pilots are experienced, even on big airlines

According to a regional airline pilot, you may have bought a ticket on Delta, United, or American, but chances are you'll be flying on a subcontractor. That means the pilots have a fraction of the experience, training, and pay of the big mainline carrier. Also, they don't get paid enough to care if you make your connection. Most of the time, pilots fly slower than normal to make more money. The only time they fly fast is if ATC tells them to or if it's the go home leg.

TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 17: Truth behind turning off electronics

A pilot confessed that having to turn off electronics on a plane is totally useless.

"Mobile electronic devices won't really bring an airplane down but they can be really annoying to pilots. Just imagine sitting in the flightdeck descending to your destination and hearing the interference of a 100+ cellphones picking up a signal. I have missed a clearance or 2 that way."

TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 18: How checked bags are really treated

If it says "fragile," it's getting thrown harder. If it's says this side up, it's going to be upside down. "We have to fit freight and 100+ bags in a cargo pit. It has to fit how it's going to fit...I will tell you that when we see 'I heart baggage handlers' bag tags...We take special care of your s***."

TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 19: How to never pay baggage fees again

You can almost always gate check baggage. Take two large carry-ons and ask to gate check one. It's free and you'll never have to pay fees.


TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING SECRET CONFESSION 20: How to tell if a plane is being hijacked

If the plane is being hijacked when the pilot lands they will leave the wing flaps up that slow the plane down, this is to signal the airport that there is something happening in the plane.

Travel tips above confessed by airline employees aren't meant to scare or freak you out. Spread the knowledge and fly safe!