Even if you’re the most frequent flier in the world, we bet you don’t know about these hidden airplane features. Continue reading to see which ones, if any, you are aware of.
10. Sleep Area
Bet you didn’t know airplanes have a bedroom on board. Now, if you’re thinking to yourself that you’ll sneak in there and catch a few Zs on your next flight, you might want to think again. These secret sleep areas are NOT for passengers. They’re actually for the cabin crew, who sometimes work 16-hour shifts. But, this room isn’t just for sleeping. The crew can use it for reading, taking a break, or getting away from annoying passengers.
You’re probably wondering to yourself, “Why have I never noticed this room before?” Well, if passengers noticed it, it wouldn’t be a secret now would it? LOL! And, while you’ve never noticed the room, you’ve probably seen the entrance to it and didn’t realize what you were looking at. Depending on the airplane, it could either have been a locked door near the front of the plane, a door posing as an overhead bin, or a hidden staircase leading up to a small, low-ceiling room. The entrance may even have been hidden by thick curtains.
-The secret room may have 6 to 10 beds, a bathroom, and in-flight entertainment.
-Oftentimes these rooms are temperature-controlled, and the lighting can be adjusted in case one crew member wants to take a nap while another wants to read a book.
9. A Button to Give You More Space
One of the things people complain the most about when having to ride in an airplane is the inability to move around as much as they’d like. But, if you’re lucky enough to snag an aisle seat, there’s a neat little feature that will give you extra room. If you reach under the armrest (near the hinge) closest to the aisle, you’ll find a button that will let you raise the armrest, so it’s in line with your seat and out of the way of the crew and fellow passengers. Raising the armrest will give you more room to move your legs around. It also makes it a lot easier to get up from your seat when the tray table is down. Plus, this will keep the armrest from digging in your side.
-This feature was initially included as a safety measure to allow travelers to escape more quickly in an emergency.
-The button is also used by the crew to help passengers with disabilities get in and out of their seats.
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.
4. Gas Masks
It’s no secret that airplanes are equipped with oxygen masks. After all, if the plane loses cabin pressure, you’re going to need to be able to breathe in that oxygen-deprived atmosphere way up there in the sky. But, did you know that airplanes are equipped with gas masks, too? But, they’re not for passenger use. They’re actually for the flight attendants for two reasons — 1) to free them up to move about the cabin to address any problems that arise, and 2) to keep them from breathing in smoke in the event a fire breaks out. After all, they’ll be the ones battling the blaze.
Speaking of oxygen masks, did you know that it’s not exactly oxygen you’re breathing? It’s not even compressed air. It’s actually a mix of chemicals that, when burned, produces oxygen. It’s true. And, it makes sense, too. Oxygen tanks are way too heavy and bulky for an airplane, so they use chemicals like barium peroxide, sodium chlorate, and potassium chlorate to create their own oxygen.
-Barium peroxide is a fine white powder used in fireworks.
-Sodium chlorate is more commonly used as a weedkiller.
2. The Black Triangle
If you look in the middle of the plane, you’ll see a black triangle above some windows. Each one of these triangles lines up with the edge of the plane’s wing. But, why are they there? It’s to let the crew know which windows are best to look out of if there’s a suspected problem with the flaps, slats, or engines.
You, as a passenger, can use the black triangle to your advantage as well, particularly if you’re prone to motion sickness. If you are, you can ask a flight attendant if it’d be okay for you to move to a seat between the triangles. That spot is the plane’s center of gravity, and sitting between them will give you the smoothest ride possible.
1. Yellow Hooks on the Wings
You probably never noticed this, but if you look out the window, you can spot yellow hooks in the middle of the plane’s wings. Those hooks are there for passengers to hold on to in case the plane needs to make an emergency water landing. Otherwise, the wings would be too slippery to get to the inflatable slide, and everyone would end up in the water instead. But, it’s not actually the hooks you would hold on to. Instead, the cabin crew will slide a rope through one hook and fasten it to the next. Then, the passengers can hold on to the rope as they make their way safely away from the plane.
So, how many of these features did you know about? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!