Air Travel Myths and Curiosities: What Fliers are Wondering About

October 24, 2017 | Author: Adam Kress

What air travelers actually know and what they perceive to be true are often two different things. There are no lack of myths when it comes to air travel, so we decided to get to the bottom of several. Many of them can be debunked by modern technology, but some curiosities of flight stubbornly remain — just like the guy in front of you who insists on reclining his seat.

A survey recently conducted with some 2,346 people about their beliefs and worries about air travel found that 44 percent believed that the air in an aircraft cabin can make people sick, presumably because of all the recycled germs. This is a myth. Modern environmental control systems (ECS) designed by Honeywell not only keep the cabin pressure comfortable, they scrub the air regularly of toxins, microbes, molds, viruses and even smells. If you get sick right after a flight, the pathogens likely came from your seatmate sneezing on your sleeve, not anything floating in the air.

In fact, you are more likely to pick up germs from touching things like the bathroom door latch, the seatback tray and the air nozzle above your seat — hard surfaces other people regularly put their fingers on. They’re no different from the “Lobby” button on your elevator at work. It’s not a bad idea to bring some sanitizing wipes on the plane, but at least Honeywell assures that your air is clean on all aircraft our ECS is installed in.

Weather worries

Twice as many people in the survey believed that air travel in the summer is safer than other seasons because of weather. Almost half-worried that weather would delay their travel, and one-third wondered if turbulence was dangerous. About 15 percent of people were curious why the pilot couldn’t simply steer around a storm. Turns out, new technology is making that a lot easier.

Thanks to apps like Honeywell’s new real-time GoDirect Weather app, pilots can fine-tune their route and fly around or above weather. They can also respond as conditions ahead of them change. GoDirect Weather even covers routes over the tropics and mid-ocean, which historically have had sparse radar coverage. Now pilots don’t have to rely solely on their onboard radar to scan for weather far ahead on the flight path: They have the input of the whole world’s weather tracking systems. Cloud tops, wind direction and speed, precipitation, icing, clear air turbulence — all weather data are uploaded in real time and overlaid with the plane’s route in a 3-D graphic display. This means that flying any time of the year, in any kind of weather has never been safer.

Never out of touch

One quarter of air passengers in the survey wondered what pilots could see ahead of their route. Thanks to Honeywell’s satellite-based Aspire 300 communication system, air crews can now maintain continuous voice and data contact wherever they are in the world, even thousands of miles from land. This connectivity via satellite data link, instead of the old ground-based broadcast system, is one of the things that makes flying safer than ever. Connectivity like this is what drives Honeywell.

Smarter than we think

We’ve been through a lot of myths and worries, but ultimately passengers are a pretty well-informed lot. Hardly anyone (just 7 percent of respondents) thought that flushing the toilet on an airplane creates a vacuum that could suck you out (whew!). Only 12 percent thought that the engines had to be at full power to keep the plane up. And only 21 percent wondered what that tiny little hole at the bottom of each window was for. You know, don’t you?

Adam Kress

Adam Kress

Sr. Manager, External Communications