By Dan Air

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome on board!

Ever wondered why the cabin lights get dimmed for take-off and landing when it’s dark? Perhaps you’ve pondered how expensive is the most expensive plane ticket in the world? Want to know how many parts make up the iconic Boeing 747? Or who became the first airline to operate an all jet fleet? 

Well wonder no more as all your questions, plus much, much more will be answered here. 

Impress your friends with our 50+ Useless Aviation Facts

1) You have a 96% chance of surviving a plane crash. The odds improve significantly if you’re nice to your cabin crew. 

2) According to one estimate, you can lose about two cups of water from your body for every hour you spend flying. While estimates of water loss during flight vary, it’s well-known that flying causes dehydration in passengers, which can lead to deep-vein thrombosis on long-haul flights. Drink water before, during and after a long flight. 

3) A Boeing 747 is made up of six million parts. The Queen of the Skies is the most well-known wide-bodied commercial airliner in the world. This aeroplane is famed because it was the first huge body aircraft ever produced. These six million parts are all controlled by a few pilots sitting up front with switches and buttons under their fingertips. 

4) Stewardess is the longest word in the English language typed with just the left hand. 

5) KLM is the worlds’ oldest airline, established in 1919. Its first flight between Amsterdam and London took place on the 17th of May 1920. 

6) In 1987 American Airlines saved $40,000 by removing one olive from each salad served in first class.  

7) Air travel is the second safest form or transportation. Only the elevator/escalator is safer, although it would take quite some time to travel 1,000 miles on an escalator. 

8) More than 80% of the population suffer from some form of ‘aerophobia’ or fear of flying. 

9) The world’s most expensive plane ticket cost Sydney millionaire Julian Hayward, an amazing $123,000, after being the first person to buy a seat on the A380 maiden flight between Singapore and Sydney in 2007. 

10) An aeroplane takes off or lands every 37 seconds at Chicago O’Hare’s International Airport. That’s almost 100 planes per hour. 

11) Aircraft lifespans aren’t determined by years. Instead, they’re determined by the number of pressurisations the plane undergoes. Every time a plane is pressurised during flight, it causes stress on its fuselage. Over time, this stress causes irreparable metal fatigue and cracks. An approximate rule of thumb is 75,000 pressurisations per aircraft. In human terms, this works out to about 20-25 years for most planes. 

12) 70% of aircraft in service today are over 70% more fuel-efficient per seat kilometre, than the first jets in the 1960s. Take that eco-warriors. 

13) The Wingspan of the A380 is longer than the aircraft itself. Wingspan: 80m, Length: 72.7m. 

Photo Source: G-R Mottez

14) Food tastes different on a plane. Before take-off, the atmosphere inside the cabin dries out our noses and as the plane goes higher, the change in air pressure numbs about a third of our taste buds. That’s why a lot of people order Bloody Mary’s as tomato juice is less acidic up in the air. It’s also why a lot of airlines add heavy amounts of salt and spice to dishes. 

15) Most planes flying internationally have their home country’s flag painted on or around their tails. Generally, the flag is facing the correct way round on the left (port) side, and backwards on the right (starboard) side. This is because that is how the flag would look if it were hoisted on a pole above the aeroplane during the flight. 

16) Mr. Heinrich Kubis from Germany was the world’s first flight attendant in 1912. 

17) British Airways reputedly invented the cabin between economy and first in the late 1970s, with the name ‘Club Class’ continuing on to today’s ‘Club World’ long-distance and ‘Club Europe’ short-range business class offerings, but the name ‘Business Class’ actually originated with Qantas in 1979. 

18) The specific rules regarding flight attendants vary among airlines and between countries. But in the UK and US there must be at least one FA per 50 passengers. 

19) One the deadliest aviation accidents actually happened on the ground. In 1977, two fully loaded Boeing 747’s belonging to Pan Am and KLM, collided head-on in the middle of the runway at Tenerife’s Los Rodeos Airport. Over 500 people died.  

20) If everyone on a plane jumped up at the same time would the plane get lighter? The answer is no. Actually, the opposite is true. Due to the basic laws of physics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so if you jumped into the air you actually force the aeroplane down a little bit, thus increasing its weight albeit momentarily. 

21) In 1940, it would cost one year’s wages to fly from London to New York. By today’s average, it costs only Mondays and Tuesdays working wage. Unless you’re flying Ryanair where the flight itself would cost you half an hour’s work, but all the add-ons would cost Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays wages. 

22) Mohawk Airlines hired the first African American flight attendant in the United States, Ruth-Carol Taylor in December, 1957.  

Ruth Carol Taylor

23) ‘MAYDAY’ is derived from the French word m’aidez, which means help me. 

24) The average age of commercial aircraft is 19 years. The average age of an American flight attendant is 105. 

25) Singapore Airlines spends about $700 million on food every year and $16 million on wine alone. First class passengers consume 20,000 bottles of alcohol every month and Singapore Airlines is the second biggest buyer of Dom Perignon champagne in the world. 

26) According to Maxim magazine, the vibrations of an airplane and the lower oxygen levels can heighten sexual arousal and lead to more intense orgasms. Those who choose to engage in sex on an aeroplane are said to have joined the “Mile-High Club”.  

27) The Boeing 747 burns approximately one gallon of fuel every second. Over the course of a ten-hour flight, it may burn up to 36,000 gallons. 

28) British Airways was once the world’s largest purchaser of Champagne, with passengers drinking a minimum of 90,000 cases every year. Today Emirates buys the most bottles of bubbly. 

29) English is the international language of flight. All flight controllers and all commercial pilots who fly on international flights are required to speak English. 

30) The reason why the lights are turned off during take-off and landing is for your eyes to adjust to lower levels of light. If there’s an accident and cabin crew have to activate the emergency slides, studies have shown that you will be able to see better and therefore be able to evacuate more quickly and safely. 

31) Thai Airways cabin crew are required to wear separate uniforms on land and in the air. They change into traditional Thai dresses in the air, while on the ground they wear a corporate purple suit. Any crew of a nationality other than Thai are not allowed to wear the dress.  

32) The strobe lights on the wing tips of an Airbus make a double flash, on a Boeing they make a single flash. 

33) The name of Idlewild Airport was changed to JFK international on the 24th of December 1963, a month after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. 

34) Only 5% of the world’s population has ever been on an aeroplane. Though the aviation sector is growing rapidly, many people, especially from underdeveloped regions, have never ever been in an aircraft and it is not likely that they will have an opportunity to fly in all of their lives. However, at the same time a small minority of the world’s population fly very regularly, some of whom probably shouldn’t be allowed out of their homes, let alone the country! 

35) Ryanair carries more international passengers than any other airline. 

36) Worryingly between 43% and 54% of pilots surveyed in the UK, Norway and Sweden admitted to falling asleep while flying a passenger plane. One third of them stated that when they woke up, they discovered that their co-pilots had also fallen asleep. 

37) The Boeing 747 (all versions) has travelled over an estimated 35 billion miles, that is the equivalent of 75,000 trips to the moon and back. 

Photo Source: Alwin Kroon

38) When Concorde used to fly over the Middle East on the early Bahrain routes, there were complaints that the sonic booms upset the camels and ruined their sex lives. What I would like to know is how the locals discovered this fact? 

39) Emirates is the world’s largest operator of Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft and is one of only nine airlines in the world to operate an all wide-body fleet. 

40) A Boeing 747’s wingspan is longer than the Wright Brothers first flight (120ft). 

41) The internet and on-line check-in were first used by Alaska Airlines in 1999. 

42) As well as being the second oldest airline in the world Qantas, formed in 1920, also has the best safety record with no fatal crashes in their history. Tick Tock. 

43) On 11th June 1962, Air India became the world’s first all Jet airline. 

44) The first women flight attendants in the 1930’s were required to weigh no more than 115 pounds, be nurses and un-married. 

45) 75% of all inflight arguments between grown adults are a result of economy passengers reclining their seats. Grow up! 

46) Pilots are 75% more likely to be at the front door saying goodbye to passengers after a good landing than after a bad landing. That’s probably why none of the flight deck I know ever leave the cockpit. 

47) Passenger aircraft are notorious germ hotbeds, that’s why cabin crew are always poorly. One study found that 60% of tray tables tested harboured the “superbug” MRSA. Additionally, airline blankets are washed just every 5–30 days. YUCK! 

48) The winglets on an Airbus A330-200 are the same height as the world’s tallest man. 

49) Hijacking of aircraft was not officially outlawed until 1961. 

50) Worryingly incidents of severe turbulence are on the rise. Caused by the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it is yet another negative effect of climate change. 

51) One windshield or window frame of a Boeing 747-400’s cockpit costs as much as a BMW car. 

52) The world’s busiest airport is the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, at over 96 million passengers a year. 

Lead Image Source: Piergiuliano Chesi

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Dan Air

Hi, I’m Dan Air and I run the Cabin Crew and aviation related blog and social media ‘Confessions of a Trolley Dolly’ giving you a peek behind the galley curtain to see what life is really like at 35,000 feet. I have always had a passion for aviation and started my career as crew 16 years ago with a major UK airline. I started Confessions of a Trolley Dolly a few years ago as a place for some mile high humour as well as a look at the serious side of our profession, the real reason we are onboard any aircraft – safety! Over the years I have contributed to various TV shows looking at topics such as disruptive passengers, crew lifestyle and cabin crew history. I’ve also written for CNN, Attitude magazine and numerous websites and can’t wait to to work with Base.


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