From the consequences of using your mobile during a flight to crossing the Bermuda Triangle, we straighten out some of the most common air travel myths...
MYTH 1: The recycled air in an aeroplane cabin quickly spreads germs and sickness – FALSE
Air circulates in an aeroplane cabin approximately every three to five minutes. For that reason, some concerned travellers believe that this constantly cycles germs through the air supply and fosters sickness. However, aeroplanes use sophisticated HEPA filters designed to extract 99.5 per cent of germs and viruses from the air, whilst studies have even shown that the air filters can remove SARS and bird flu germs, potentially making it cleaner than the stuff you breathe on the ground.
MYTH 2: Flights still do not cross the Bermuda Triangle – FALSE
It’s surprising how many people still believe in the legend of the Bermuda Triangle, but the truth is: planes fly over the Bermuda Triangle every single day. It's a major flight route from Florida to Bermuda and the Bahamas. The legend started decades ago when a researcher outlined an area he was studying regarding lost vessels and aircraft. Nothing came of it until the research was again unearthed in the late 60s/early 70s. It was given the moniker "The Bermuda Triangle" and the legend became an overnight sensation. Many disappearances have been explained in purely logical terms and flights continue over the region several times a day. So you can rest assured, Bermuda is firmly on the travel agenda.
MYTH 3: The cost of fares doesn't differ depending on which day of the week you book – FALSE
The difference in cost between flights booked at the weekend and those booked on a weekday can be quite significant, not to mention the impact of the day you choose to travel. Looking at historical data the flight experts at Fly.com suggest that booking flights on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday will usually net you a far better fare, whilst arranging to travel on a Tuesday, Thursday or a Saturday is also likely to make your flight costs more affordable.
[Useful: Air travel secrets revealed]
MYTH 4: You can open the door on a commercial jet mid-flight – FALSE
There have been a number of stories in the media of late highlighting passengers’ attempts to open the emergency door at altitude; an idea that has left many nervous travellers panic stricken. This is in fact impossible. Why? Because the door is designed to open inwards before opening outwards, and the pressure differential between the cabin and the outside air at altitude prevents this required inward motion; the door is in fact sealed tighter, the higher the plane goes. So passengers can rest assured, no matter how hard you try, that door is not going to open until you’re firmly on the ground.
MYTH 5: Forget the brace position, if the plane crashes, you’re doomed – FALSE
The idea of a plane crash is enough to perturb even the most seasoned traveller, but contrary to popular belief, when the US Government’s National Transportation Safety Board studied accidents over 20 years they recorded a survival rate of over 95 per cent. What’s more, the chances of dying on your next flight are calculated to be one in 60 million, making air travel hundreds of times safer than travelling by car. In fact, on this basis you could fly every day for the next 160,000 years and enjoy the peanuts without a problem.
MYTH 6: Electronic devices interfere with a plane's navigational system – FALSE
It is widely believed that mobile phones could adversely affect the navigational instruments in an aeroplane’s cockpit; however there is currently no credible evidence that links electronic devices with interference. Aeroplanes are specially insulated against foreign radio signals, and their communication and navigation instruments operate on different frequencies from mobile phones, meaning that phone signals are unlikely to interfere with the plane’s satnav. The ban is actually in place to prevent communication problems on the ground. If someone makes a phone call from a plane, the signal would bounce across multiple signal towers at once, which could prevent other calls from going through. It’s still a hotly debated topic with many suggesting airlines only support the ban in order to increase the use of expensive in-flight ‘air phones’. For now, relax and enjoy the in-flight peace and quiet.
MYTH 7: Cheap flights are helping less wealthy people travel – FALSE
It’s a nice idea but there’s little truth in it. It’s actually the wealthiest people who are benefiting from the growth in air travel. Of those who use budget airlines, 75 per cent are in social classes A, B and C, whilst people with second homes abroad take an average of six return flights with the airlines every year. Interestingly, despite making up over a quarter of the population, low income households took just 6 per cent of the flights recorded from London airports last year. Meanwhile, the top quarter of the population took almost half of all flights. It seems that, while air travel has been getting progressively cheaper over the last decade, there’s still a long way to go before it is accessible to all.
MYTH 8: You are likely to get drunk quicker on an aeroplane – FALSE
According to an old saying, one in the air is like three on the ground. That adage isn’t strictly true; it’s your blood alcohol level that determines levels of intoxication and this is not affected in any way by altitude. However, with less oxygen reaching the brain because of the high altitude and the pressurised cabin, it might cause passengers to feel more inebriated, but that's about it. Either way, we wouldn’t advise drinking excessively onboard, if only out of courtesy to your neighbours.
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