If you're a frequent flyer, there are two approaches to this list of airline secrets you may or may not want to know: 1. Ignore it and carry on in your blissful ignorance of duct tape holding the wing of your aircraft together while flying. Or 2. Read about the awful things that happen on commercial flights, and go in with the knowledge of how awful the flight you're on really is (but possibly avoid dysentery). There's no option three, so choose wisely, because some of these airline worst practices can't be unseen.
From odd / surprising (hopefully) places you'll find poop on a plane to the things a flight attendant might overlook so they get paid, there are an uncomfortable number of scary things airlines don't want you to know about flying. Culled from the experiences of real pilots, flight attendants, airline staff, ground crew, and TSA officials, these are the reasons logical people are afraid to fly - and even the most seasoned traveler should be at least a bit skeeved out by this list of awful things that happen on planes.
Some Airline Employees Don't Get Paid Until the Flight's in the Air
Why is this scary for you? Let's say a pilot, flight attendant, or other airline employee notices something off about the plane (torn carpet, a toilet issue, a possible technical issue) they consider negligible, they may fail to report the condition in case it causes the flight to be substantially delayed or even cancelled.(Source)
People Steal the Under-Seat Life Jackets
Somewhere, in a Midwest frat house, is the life jacket you should be using in case of emergency.(Source)
Guidelines Exist for the Amount of Screws a Plane Is Allowed to Fly Without
Seems you'd prefer to have zero screws missing, but apparently there's a threshold of acceptable missing screws on the plane.(Source)
Plane Water Is Disgusting And Possibly Poop-Filled
A test of tap waters from various airlines, performed by the Wall Street Journal in 2002, found bacteria levels in spigot water to be as much as 100x the allowed limit in the US.