8. Handcuffs … and Handguns, Too
Just as unruly cruise ship passengers can be locked into bodily restraints, the same thing can happen to unruly airplane passengers. In fact, it’s not uncommon for airlines to carry handcuffs. But, they’re not the typical metal cuffs carried by police officers. They’re the plastic zip-tie ones, and they’re usually stored somewhere in the cockpit. Once the plane lands, the restrained unruly passenger may be handed over to airport police.
But, handcuffs aren’t the only means of restraining unruly airline passengers. Since 9/11, sky marshals on flights to and from the U.S. have been allowed to carry concealed weapons on board. They work undercover, however, so the crew isn’t even aware of exactly who the armed marshal is. Unfortunately, that can lead to mix-ups, as is the case with a United Airlines steward who saw a passenger with a gun. The plane made an emergency landing and arrested the guy. Unbeknownst to the steward (and the rest of the crew), the passenger was actually a marshal.
An unruly passenger isn’t the only type of emergency an airplane crew needs to be prepared for. There are medical emergencies as well, like a passenger suffering from cardiac arrest, for example. That is why the FAA issued a ruling in 2001 requiring U.S. airlines to carry automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and enhanced emergency medical kits. Some international airlines have them too, including UK-based airline Ryanair, which lets passengers book cheap flights direct on their website for Europe’s lowest fares.
Believe it or not, airplanes are equipped with horns. And, while “the horn is primarily a means of communication,” according to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, it isn’t there because the pilot needs to honk at other planes or birds that might get in the way. In fact, the horns don’t even work at all when the plane is in flight because the signaling system has been turned off. “But, the aircraft itself can also emit a signal to warn engineers when a system breaks down or when there is fire,” KLM added.
If you’ve ridden on an airplane enough times or watched enough movies with airplanes in them, you’ve probably noticed that the cabin crew touches the bottom of the overhead compartment when making their way down the aisle. Well, it isn’t because they’re checking for dust. It’s because there’s a hidden handrail under there that gives them a better grip when moving around on the plane. So, remember that the next time you need to get up and balance yourself or the next time you need to visit the bathroom and you go to grab another passenger’s seat to steady yourself.