BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
Airlines' Dirtiest Secrets (Check Out Our "Scary Scale")
We know the questions that pop into your head when you fly: Is the cabin air full of germs? Is the water safe to drink? How are pets treated in the hold? There's a LOT of misinformation out there, and we're cutting through the clutter to deliver the good, the bad—and the downright gross.
THOSE PILLOWS, BLANKETS, AND HEADPHONES ARE CLEANED OR CHANGED AFTER EVERY FLIGHT, RIGHT?
Cue Aerosmith and dream on. Flight crews are busy, budgets are tight, and you've probably witnessed the onboard scramble that occurs between flights. If your blanket is neatly folded and your headphones are in a plastic bag, congrats! That's about the best you can hope for these days. On our "scary scale," I give that a 3 or 4.
ARE PILOTS AND COPILOTS REALLY SERVED SEPARATE MEALS IN CASE OF POISONING?
This is a really good idea, of course, and I wish I could tell you that it's strictly enforced. But the reality is that the crew eats whatever they want whenever they can get it. (Some bring their own food, others eat what's served out of the galley.) On some flights, the pilot and copilot will indeed be served separate meals. On others, not so much. On a "scary scale," considering that I've seen few, if any, accounts of poisoned pilots wreaking havoc in the skies, I give it a 2.
IS IT TRUE THAT OXYGEN MASKS HAVE ONLY A FEW MINUTES OF AIR IN THEM?
Yes. But it's not as bad as it sounds. Airplanes are pressurized mostly because the air at 30,000 feet does not hold enough oxygen. In the very rare event of depressurization, the oxygen masks descend and, though it may be frightening, passengers use them for a few minutes while the pilot quickly gets the plane down to around 10,000 feet, where oxygen levels are comparable to a mountain summit. On our "scary scale," this makes me feel a little safer and I give it a 1. Though if you've ever been on a plane that descended from 30,000 to 10,000 feet in a matter of minutes, there's not a theme park ride in the world that will ever scare you again!