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18 Dirty Facts About Flying Airlines Don't Want You to Know

Updated September 30, 2021 46.3k votes 9.2k voters 1.8m views18 items

List RulesVote UP the revelations that freak / creep you out. Vote down the ones that you already knew (in your heart).

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. 

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  • 5

    Even the Headphones in Wrappers Have Probably Been Used

    Photo: James F Clay / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    If you don't mind a little bit of sweat, skin flakes, and general ickiness from another passenger, game on.

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  • 6

    If You Use the Oxygen Bags for More Than 15 Minutes, You're Gonna Have a Bad Time

    Photo: K. Todd Storch / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The oxygen masks on planes only supply 15-20 minutes of oxygen. The theory is that the pilots will descend to a height of normal cabin pressurization as soon as an issue is noted.

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  • 7

    Nobody Washes the Blankets or Pillows

    Photo: Malingering / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Enjoy your scabies.

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  • 8

    The Emergency Door Handles Are There So Flight Attendants Aren't Pushed Out

    Photo: ** RCB ** / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    People go nutty whenever there's a situation involving an emergency exit, and the poor flight attendants – who are trying to get you out safely – are often disregarded like limits on carry-on baggage, necessitating the plane's version of "Oh Sh*t" bars.

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