Do you ever wish that you could ask your pilot a hundred questions, like what if the plane is struck by lightning or what happens if you lose an engine? Considering that it’s mighty impractical to sit with your pilot for a heart to heart before takeoff, we’ve come to your rescue. We’ve compiled a list of 7 important things your pilot wants you to know that will help calm your nerves and answer those burning questions everyone has before a flight.
1.) Auto-pilot isn’t what you think it is
Many passengers think that when a plane is on auto-pilot that pilots can slack off because the plane is basically flying itself through the sky, but that isn’t the case. Pilots still have to input all of the parameters to keep everything flying smoothly. The only thing it allows pilots to “slack off” with is that they need not have their hands on the wheel (or yoke) of the plane for the entire duration of the flight. But, believe us, they’re still very much engaged with flying the plane even when it’s on auto-pilot.
2.) Being on time is important
The Department of Transportation places more emphasis on flights arriving in a timely manner than they do on customer satisfaction. This means that if you don’t arrive at your gate on time, you’re not making it on to your flight. Pilots are no longer allowed to delay flights for tardy passengers, so get to the terminal at least an hour before your boarding time for a domestic flight and at least 90 minutes before an international flight.
3.) You shouldn’t worry about turbulence
Turbulence (or “sky potholes” as some pilots call them) can not cause a plane to crash. Turbulence is merely a shift in air currents and, thankfully, won’t ever cause a plane to drop out of the sky. But if the idea of a bumpy ride still sends your blood pressure sky-rocketing, try to book a seat in the middle of the plane where it naturally moves less. Also, try to book a flight in the morning when the ground isn’t heated to cause rough flying conditions. Keeping your seatbelt buckled at all times is always recommended by pilots, as well.
4.) There are precautions in place for just about every kind of emergency
Commercial airliners can withstand severe weather conditions and even lightning strikes, which happens more often than you think. Planes can even function just fine if they lose an engine. And even if all engines are lost, planes have the capability to glide into safe landings. What pilots can’t prepare for, though, is unprepared passengers. Always wear sturdy shoes in case of an unexpected landing and pay attention when the flight attendants are doing their presentations before takeoff; it’s crucial safety information that you may need in the event of an emergency!
5.) Pilots are overworked so be courteous and compliments never hurt!
Pilots work very long hours with few breaks and have to stay in all sorts of accommodations (some of which are not ideal) during their travels. Oftentimes they’re tired but they always do their absolute best to get all of their passengers to arrive safely. They’ve spent years and lots of money training to be pilots, so throwing your pilot a nice compliment after a long flight would really brighten his day!
6.) Pilots hate delays and cancellations as much as you do
Believe it or not, pilots don’t do a happy dance when they have to cancel or delay a flight. A lot of pilots have families they want to get home to, also. It’s a hard call to make, but it’s done for the sake of everyone’s safety. Even if the weather is great at the airport, that doesn’t mean there aren’t treacherous conditions along your flight path. So next time a flight is delayed, try really hard not to hate your pilot for a decision that is affecting him just as much.
7.) Manners are just as important on a flight as they are everywhere else
Yes, we understand that just about everyone hates flying and most people are miserable when they’re crammed into a small space with a hundred other humans for hours with no escape. But, please be courteous to other passengers. That means listening to music quietly and not at ear-splitting levels or looking behind you before slamming your seat into the reclined position (or even better, simply asking permission to encroach on another passenger’s space.)