When it comes to air travel, sometimes ignorance is bliss.

There is a lot of information passengers would probably rather not have, such as what's really going on inside the cockpit, what's causing that strange buzzing noise, and what the deal is with the weird fabric stain on the seat.

But sometimes - especially when it comes to how the cabin operates - we just can't resist finding out the juicy, and sometimes gross, details.

Thankfully, some flight attendants are only too happy to let us in on the secrets.


In a recent discussion on Quora flight crew members dished the dirt on the things they know that passengers usually don't.

And a few of these things could change the way you fly forever.

They get better meals than you

One flight attendant revealed that the food served to the flight crew was generally more desirable than what gets dished out to the passengers.

"Our meals are slightly better than the passenger meals, and even though it depends on the airlines, we also get fresh fruits - like whole fruits and not the cut ones, (plus) pickles, bread rolls, desserts, beverages," they said.

"Basically we have at least a trolley dedicated for the crews."

And in more bad food-related news, another crew member confirmed that the food trays were "hardly ever cleaned".

"Make sure to think twice before touching them - people travelling with babies often have dirty diapers (nappies) laying around. Bring your own sanitising hand wipes!"

They feel sorry for you if you drink
We're always encouraged to amp up the water intake during flights, but one flight attendant described the drinking water on planes as "disgusting".

"I feel truly sorry for our coffee and hot water drinkers," they said.

"That water is in a tank under the plane and I've never seen that tank be cleaned out."

Another flight attendant revealed that whenever a crew member decants half a can of soft drink into your glass, it's usually because the supplies are running low and they need to start rationing out the drinks.

And there's no use switching to something stronger than water to compensate - flight attendants know that you'll get drunker, faster, at high altitude.

Unless, of course, you have no problem with that.

There's not much flight attendants can do about who you're sat next to. Photo / iStock
There's not much flight attendants can do about who you're sat next to. Photo / iStock

It's no use complaining about other passengers

There are plenty of people we'd rather not be seated next to. But in a lot of cases, there's not much flight attendants can do.

One hostie explained that the flight crew needed to remain diplomatic in such situations, even if simply to avoid a potential discrimination complaint.

"For example, that man that's overweight and spilling into your seat on a full flight? I can't tell him to suck in his gut or ask a thin person to switch with you," the flight attendant said.

"However, you can, because the worst that can happen is you'll get a no and maybe a glare. If I do, I am risking a possible lawsuit against my airline or at worst, my job.

"With the age of social media, a lot of things get twisted. I never want to be the flight attendant that 'harassed a mother and her crying baby' or '(would) not let allow a man with a medical condition sleep' because he snores."

You're tricked into thinking the luxuries are new

There's nothing like being handed a freshly folded blanket, clean and fluffy pillow and a new pair of earphones at the start of a long-haul flight.

Except they're not always as new as you'd think.

"Next time you buy earphones, be aware that even if they are wrapped, they may not be new," one flight attendant said.

"Quite often, used earphones found on other flights are cleaned and repacked again.

Make sure to bring your own headphones and don't forget an aeroplane adaptor."

Another crew member said it was the same deal with the stuff you snuggle into.

"The blankets and pillows get reused over and over again," they said.

"They just fold 'em up and put them away for the next flight.

"So, be sure to ask for a fresh blanket one that has been sealed in a bag. That way you know it's fresh/clean."

The sad truth about the blankets was confirmed across the board. "It depends on how cheap the airline is, but I've had my share (of) seeing them refolding the blankets for the passengers on the next flight to use," someone else added.

"At least they were generous enough to replace the pillow covers and the head-rest covers."

They're judging you because of the toilets

We all know that while the toilets aren't necessarily the most germ-ridden parts of the plane, they're the most obviously gross.

And cabin crew know better than to use them.

"To be honest I only use the lavatories on the aeroplane if I need to wash my hands or if I absolutely have to go to the bathroom," one crew member said.

"If it's a short flight and I can leave the plane, I'm definitely waiting until I can use the bathroom in the airport."

Or as another industry insider put it: "People are pigs."

Not using aeroplane mode won't bring down the plane

We're always told to put our smartphones and tablets on aeroplane or flight mode during our journey.

The belief is the setting helps prevent the device's signal from interfering with the electrical and telecommunications systems on board. More nervous flyers believe it stops mobile phones from bringing down the plane.

And yes, it's there for a reason, but it's not as dramatic as that.

"The only reason it exists is to potentially reduce interference on the radio communications. You can experience this when you stand too close to a speaker or intercom with your smartphone and you get the rapping click, click, clack sounds on the other device. This is caused when your phone receives and transmits data," one airline worker explained.

"The fear by the FAA (US Federal Aviation Administration) is that this could potentially cause important radio communication from airport/pilot to be misinterpreted and cause an accident.

"For this to actually happen though, you would have to be within a few feet of the cockpit - so close, in fact, that the only recorded case of it happening is when the flight crew or captain has not turned his own smartphone to aeroplane mode.

"To date, no accidents or problems have been attributed to smartphones."

They added: "I am surprised more work has not been done to shield cockpit radios from interference from smart phones, so this annoying ritual of endless crew messages and turning on and off devices can be avoided."

Yeah, they already know about your connecting flight

Flight attendants on the Quora discussion explained that cabin crew were given a manifest list at the start of the flight that told them details of any connecting flights with the same airline.

So if there is a delay, don't freak out too much on them. They already know.

"You're boarding from Bombay (Mumbai) to Kuala Lumpur. The aircraft is delayed. You start getting agitated if you will be able to catch your next connection to say, London.

Don't worry lady, we're well informed you're heading to the next destination, so is our gate agent," one crew member explained.

"If you couldn't make it, you'll be put on the next available flight and that's how we can assure you to not worry as they'll reimburse you one way or another."

It's super easy to be an awesome passenger

Manners go a long way in the cabin - especially since the Quora discussion also revealed the intense training, long hours and not-so-great wages cabin crew endure, all so we can reach our destination safely and reasonably comfortably.

And there are plenty of simple things passengers can do that are noticed and always appreciated.

"We greatly appreciate passengers who clean after themselves after using the lavatory (toilet paper in the right place, the toilet is flushed, no water or phlegm on the basin, no water on the floor)," one flight attendant said.

The worker added that crew members loved passengers who put their used cutlery and napkins back on their food tray for easier collection.

And yes - sometimes you might get a little reward from a flight attendant for being such a champion, such as extra food or a complimentary drink.

"If you're one of those who have a big heart in giving up your seat for whatever reason without making a scene, we treat you 'special' - we would give you two bread rolls instead of one, a whole can of soda instead of rationing it," they added.

"Basically, we would compensate you for your kindness."