I’m a Flight Attendant and Here’s Why Turbulence Is Really Terrifying – and Other Airplane Myths Busted

AFTER a decade of working on airplanes, I know a thing or two about how they work and what happens in flight.

Plus, I also know which flight myths are true – and which are totally nonsense.


Our stewardess revealed that cabin crew often have the same fear during severe turbulence (stock image)Credit: Getty

In the second of my weekly blogs for Sun Online Travel, I’m going to separate fact from fiction and reveal why some of the things you think you know about airplanes are actually garbage.

Air hostesses are afraid of turbulence

Your cabin crew may seem calm and serene when the plane begins to shake, but inside, we know it can be very dangerous.

We are trained to deal with different levels of turbulence, they range from moderate to severe to extreme.

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Of course turbulence is a common thing in an airplane and if you hit a small pocket of air in an airplane it’s going to cause a little jolt and nothing more, but if you hit something we would consider “extreme “, we know it can be really dangerous.

In these cases we are instructed to store everything as safe as possible and to tie up quickly.

I know people who have hit the ceiling, broken limbs and been thrown through the cabin – it can be a really scary thing. And when you fly as much as we do, chances are you’ll experience it at some point.

For anyone really afraid of turbulence my advice would be to sit as close to the front of the plane as possible as it acts like a wave.

What starts out as a slight bump in the front of the plane can look much worse by the time it reaches the rear.

Sometimes the passengers in front don’t even notice a thing, while those in the back are really shaken up.

Flight attendants can hold you back – and we’re even trained to do so

So many times I’ve heard angry passengers say we don’t have the power to do anything to them – and that’s a bunch of nonsense.

While it’s different depending on which airline you’re on, we have the power to hold passengers back, and most of us are trained and equipped to do so.

The only thing we can’t do is ask passengers for help.

We are allowed to accept help from people if they offer it, but if a passenger starts and there is a big muscular bodybuilder who does nothing to help us – unfortunately we are not allowed to ask them, no matter how useful that might be.

We have cable ties and straps on board, and it’s at the cabin commander’s discretion if we restrain anyone, but if a passenger needs them, we’re not just going to let them pose a risk to the rest of the cabin.

Once they are attached, it is up to the captain to decide whether or not the flight continues to its destination, or if it is diverted for safety reasons.

No matter where we arrive, these passengers will not be released until we get there. We’re not going to risk releasing them again, so if they need to go to the bathroom or anything, they’ll just have to hold back or ruin their underwear.

So maybe think about that before you get too angry the next time you fly.

Passengers cannot open the aircraft doors mid-flight

I’ve heard stories of passengers threatening to open doors mid-flight, usually intoxicated, which is a physical impossibility.

At around 60-80 knots the doors of the plane will be sealed by the outside pressure, so until we land and the plane drops below that speed, those doors stay closed no matter how hard coming from within.

However, sometimes the pressure does funny things at the doors that can scare people inside, even flight attendants.

On some aircraft, the door handles begin to slide and move as if the doors were opening on their own.

Even if this happens, the pressure will be strong enough to hold the door in place, so there is no need to worry.

Air on airplanes does not spread disease

Following Covid-19, people are more worried about flying than ever, with rumors that recirculated air increases your risk of contracting disease.

If that were the case, there would be many more cases of outbreaks after the flights.

There are sometimes hundreds of people on the planes and chances are someone has some kind of bug, but the air system on board is not going to spread it any more than normal.

The onboard air system works by regularly replacing the air in the cabin with air outside the aircraft, which means that any germs or insects will be ejected from the aircraft during flight.

Therefore, the air you breathe is much more likely to be clean and fresh than full of germs.

Airplanes don’t drop toilet waste in the air

This is something that many passengers seem to believe, but it is simply not true.

We have tanks on board the aircraft which store all waste water, often at the rear of the aircraft.

When the plane lands, the waste is carried away by a “honey truck” which then sends it to the sewers.

So if you see a plane flying overhead, you don’t have to worry – you’ll never end up in an unwanted shower.

For those who are really afraid of turbulence, it is best to sit as close to the front of the plane as possible.


For those who are really afraid of turbulence, it is best to sit as close to the front of the plane as possible.Credit: Getty

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