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Jana Chovancová
October 15, 2022, 11:00am
Reading time: 5:20

What Would A Flight Attendant Never Do, But Passengers Do All The Time? Alcohol, Taking Shoes Off, Getting Up Before Plane Parks

Although air transport is considered the safest in the world, the behavior of passengers during the flight is often not safe. In our I Would Never... series, we asked a flight attendant what she would never do on a plane.

Jana Chovancová
October 15, 2022, 11:00am
Reading time: 5:20
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Kristina works as a flight attendant. She has a lot of experience with passengers, since she has been in the profession for six years. We asked her to tell us things she would never do on a plane, but that passengers do regularly.

Can you take off your shoes on the plane or drink from the faucet in the toilet? Kristina wouldn't do that, and she'll tell you why. According to the flight attendant, after reading this article, your flights will not only be more pleasant, but also safer.


Source: Unsplash/Suhyeon Choi


I would never... walk on a plane without shoes

Would you walk the busiest street in the capital barefoot? Probably not. So, for your own health, don't do it on a plane either. The carpet is nowhere near as clean as it looks. Let's take, for example, a typical day in a low-cost airline that turns around six flights in 24 hours. If the capacity of the plane is 230 people and we calculate that every flight is full, there will be 1380 passengers.



The probability that each one of them has clean shoes is slim, and you have to remember that the carpet is not cleaned or vacuumed between flights. The exception is emergency situations when the cleaning service must intervene. However, this is not usually the case, of course. So next time, you'd better take slippers to change into.

"Furthermore, it is good to remember that you are not alone on a plane and that bare feet can cause discomfort to others. For some, it wouldn't hurt to be more considerate," says Kristina


I would never... leave the toilet without washing my hands

Airplane toilets are regularly cleaned and disinfected, but you never know who was inside before you. At intervals of a few minutes, the flight attendants also check the cleanliness of the equipment and make sure that the cleanliness is maintained. However, they are not always there, so there is a chance that a sick passenger could have been in the toilet in front of you. "Airplane toilets are like public toilets. Although a bit less messy, but similar in cleanliness. You have to pay attention to safety," advises the flight attendant.


Source: Pexels/Sora Shimazaki


I would never... drink cold water from the toilet tap

On a plane, water is stored in on-board tanks, which do not go through the cleaning process after each flight. This can lead to a potential build-up of bacteria in stagnant water. In addition, the water in the tanks is often only topped up instead of being completely replaced.

"It happened that passengers wanted a glass of water from us to take their medicine. In this case, when there is a small amount of water, it does not necessarily harm a person. It's better to offer them water from the tap than nothing at all,"  Kristina recalls situations from a typical flight day.


Source: Unsplash/Luann Hunt


Do not despair, if you have a coffee or tea, you are not in danger of poisoning. Airplanes have boilers that boil water for this use. Simple chemistry. But you'd better bring or buy your cold water bottled.


I would never... unbuckle my seat belt. Except in unavoidable situations.

The plane is not public transport. In addition to the fact that passengers should be fastened during take-off and landing, it is a good idea to keep the seat belt on during the entire flight. The reason is simple, and pilots remind their crews of this, by the way: Turbulence can appear at any time, out of nowhere.

"It happened many times that the forecasts to the pilots displayed possible turbulence on a certain route, and when we flew through there, nothing hit us. Unfortunately, the opposite has also happened several times, and while the pilots reported a smooth flight, turbulence appeared," the flight attendant describes her flights.


Source: Unsplash/Cathal Mac an Bheatha


Passengers often cannot assess the situation and unbuckle their seat belts. However, the flight attendant recommends wearing a seat belt at all times, except in unavoidable situations such as announced evacuation.


I would never... get out of my seat until the plane has parked

Everyone knows this. The plane barely touches the ground and people in the penultimate row are already standing with luggage in their hands. It doesn't help when the flight attendant speaks at them in five languages and tries to explain to them that it's not safe. 

The plane can move at a speed of 70 kilometers per hour along the parking roads, depending on the circumstances. Sudden braking of the aircraft can be dangerous, and would lead to an injury. "That's why it's a good idea to wait until the plane reaches the final parking position and the captain turns off the seatbelt light. Then one is sure that it is safe," adds Kristina.


I would never... drink a lot of alcohol before a flight

The human body, when in an airplane, reacts to external stimuli completely differently than it normally does on the ground. For example, air humidity. On earth, we are used to air humidity, which sometimes reaches 70 percent. In a plane full of people, the humidity can drop to 20 percent, while in an empty plane it is around four percent.

And now to the alcohol. It is common knowledge that alcohol dehydrates the body. For the reasons mentioned above, the body experiences a shock from the low air humidity anyway, so when you decide to help yourself with a few glasses of vodka, you can bring on some unpleasant side effects.


Source: Unsplash/Valentina Chernobay


"Alcohol, similarly to coffee and tea, dehydrates the body. In extreme cases, this can lead to an increase in heart rate and a decrease in blood pressure," warns Kristina.


Tomato juice can be a better choice than a glass of vodka. Lufthansa's research says that at high altitude one's tastes change and this drink tastes better than on the ground. There have also been explanations that it helps people cope with pressure changes and calms the stomach.


I would never... get on a plane after diving to a great depth

Not that it's common practice, but it's good to know. Nitrogen molecules in the blood decrease during diving, normalize during a stay on land, and increase in an airplane. The longer and deeper a person dives, the more nitrogen is absorbed into the blood.

After returning to the surface, the pressure decreases and the nitrogen turns into gas bubbles, which can be very dangerous inside the body. Due to the pressure in the plane, these bubbles can enlarge and cause pain or even death. It can be compared to mineral water in a bottle that we shake and open.

"If, as a result of diving, a person gets into a life-threatening condition, we must make an emergency landing. However, the problem is that they only know how to treat this particular condition in some cities, and this may not be affordable for the passenger," Kristina describes the emergency situation.


I would never... board a plane sick

Illness and flying should not be combined. In the conditions it is in, even an ordinary snot can cause problems. There may be ringing in the ears, unpleasant pains, and in extreme cases even deafness. It is also not recommended to fly soon after toothache or tooth surgery.


Source: Unsplash/Brittany Colette


"If a person has earaches and feels pain, a hot drink, chewing gum, or yawning will help." recommends the flight attendant.


I would never... smoke in the toilets. No, not even electronic cigarettes.

Smoking is strictly prohibited and there is always a smoke detector in the toilets. A cigarette butt thrown in the trash can cause a fire that may not be easy to put out. This can potentially lead to an emergency landing. Besides, the fines for smoking are high and that would certainly cost you dearly.

"Several people have already been burned by this unnecessary mistake. The detector also detects smoke from iqos cigarettes, so there is no need to tempt fate. The fines for smoking are really quite steep," concludes the flight attendant.


Source: Unsplash/Kristaps Solims
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Thumbnail: Refresher/Miroslav Špaček, Unsplash/Kristaps Solims
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