• 10 Facts about travelling by plane that you might not have known about

    They’ll blow your mind!

Without a doubt, the aeroplane is one of the most complex means of transport in existence and, as we always say, everything is designed to guarantee maximum safety. This means that there are a lot of interesting facts about travelling by plane.

For example, have you ever wondered why we always board on the left-hand side? Or why are there so many restrictions on liquids in the cabin? Or even how much is the most expensive plane ticket in the world?

If all of this sounds interesting to you, stay and read the post because here we tell you 10 facts about travelling by plane that you probably didn’t know.

1. Why do we always board on the left side of the plane?

Have you ever noticed that the boarding gates are always on the left side of the plane? Do you know why? The explanation is rather strange at first glance, but it makes sense.

The origin lies in the fact that, traditionally, riders’ swords hung to the left so that they could easily draw them with the right. Therefore, the easiest way to get on the horse was to get on the left side, so as not to trip over the sword.

Incredible as it may seem, humans have retained this way of getting on their means of transport; think of how you get on a motorbike or bicycle, or even the side on which the driver of a car rides (in most parts of the world).

In fact, the pilot in command or PIC sits on the left side of the cockpit because the first pilots were military, very used to being disciplined, so they adopted this custom and it has been maintained ever since.

2. Weighing passengers before boarding

In the early days of aviation, passengers were weighed before boarding the plane. Yes, just as you read it. Imagine having to put all the customers on the scales, as if they were suitcases.

The performance of the first planes was very limited, so the companies had to make sure that the flight could be made safely.

Nowadays, there are generic weights established according to the sex of the passengers, or whether it is a domestic or international flight. This information is used by flight dispatchers and pilots to calculate the mass and balance of the aircraft.

3. The world’s shortest commercial flight

The world’s shortest commercial flight lasts just 80 seconds. Yes, less than a minute and a half.

This bizarre route takes place between two islands in the archipelago of Orkney (Scotland); there are only 2.7 km between them.

The flight is made in a twin-engine propeller plane, a little bigger than our Diamond DA42, and hundreds of enthusiasts and onlookers come every year to enjoy the unique experience.

4. Aircraft toilets can be opened from the outside

Just like any other bathroom, aeroplane toilets have a lock on the inside that prevents them from being opened from the outside. Logical, isn’t it? However, there is a mechanism in the aircraft that allows the cabin crew to open them from the outside.

This allows them to rescue a person if they get trapped inside, to prevent unlawful acts from occurring or to attend to someone who has suffered a mishap inside, such as fainting or other indisposition.

5. More than 60kg of paperwork in the cockpit

Traditionally, all the relevant documentation for a flight was carried on paper… The cockpit was full of papers everywhere!

Imagine carrying all the navigation charts, the aircraft procedures, the company manuals, etc. The weight of all this material exceeded 60kg in some cases. Crazy!

Nowadays, airlines have introduced the Electronic Flight Bag or EFB; in other words, pilots have tablets on which they carry all the information.

6. Why do the lights go out during take-off and landing?

One of the things that most strikes any passenger is that, during take-off and landing, the aircraft’s interior lights are switched off. Have you ever noticed? Why do you think this is done?

Well, it is believed that this is done so as not to take power away from the engines, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that they are turned off so that, in case something goes wrong and we have to get out of the plane, our eyes are adapted to the natural light outside.

That’s why, in addition, the crew asks us, at every take-off and landing, to have the sun visor up on all the windows.

7. Madrid Barajas, the Spanish airport that handles the most suitcases

Do you remember our post about racetracks or baggage conveyor belts? If you haven’t read it, we recommend you to take a look at it because we explain how luggage is handled at an airport, from the moment you leave it at the counter until you pick it up at the destination.

As the title suggests, at peak times, Adolfo Suárez Madrid Barajas airport can handle up to 5,000 pieces of luggage per hour. That’s 120,000 pieces of luggage in a single day!

8. There is no such thing as row 13 on aeroplanes

Are you superstitious? You may not be, but the number 13 has traditionally been associated with bad luck, so there are still many people for whom travelling in a seat with that number would be a problem.

So, to maximise safety, it’s best to avoid even the slightest conflict on board. So most airlines have eliminated row 13 from their planes, moving from row 12 to row 14.

9. Restriction on liquids

Probably one of the most headache-inducing things for any passenger is the 100ml restriction on liquids in hand luggage. Why do you think this is?

This measure came into force in 2006 to increase security on board. Explosives exist in liquid form and can even be created by making certain mixtures.

For this reason, the amount of fluids that can be carried in hand luggage was limited, although there is no restriction for checked luggage in the cargo hold of the aircraft.

However, this restriction could soon be lifted with the introduction of 3D scanners at security checkpoints, which would allow the exact contents of bags to be clearly identified. It is expected that by 2024, they could be operational at most airports.

10. The most expensive plane ticket in the world

The arrival of low cost airlines has made it possible to buy a plane ticket for less than 10€, but let’s go to the opposite extreme.

The world’s most expensive airline ticket to date is offered by Etihad Airways on its Mumbai – New York route with a stopover in Abu Dhabi. You can enjoy it for the modest price of $32,000.

You’ll be travelling in one of their luxurious and super-exclusive rooms known as ‘The Residence’. Yes, on its Airbus A380s, Etihad has private 12m² flats that include a bedroom, living room and bathroom with shower. Want to see it? Here it is on the video.

Would you like to read more interesting facts about aviation?

We hope you found this post interesting, and that the next time you travel by plane you’ll have some unusual facts like these to tell your friends.

And if you have an insatiable mind for knowledge, you can continue discovering more curiosities about aviation in our blog, where we explain everything from how to identify the different aircraft models to how to reduce the effects of jet lag.

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