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The Seven Most Annoying Myths About Flying

From airfares to safety to the roles of the captain and copilot, ASK THE PILOT take a look at seven of the most persistent and irritating myths and quasi-truths about flying. ( More...

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dee9bee 3
I'll add one to the PEF, (Passenger Embellishment Factor)..."Before takeoff, we sat on the RUNWAY for FOUR HOURS!!"...
preacher1 5
While in many cases, pointy end crew is busy waiting on and trying to listen to ATC, hoping a hole will open up and they can jump quickly and go. However, not all that time is spent doing that and a word or 2 to the pax from the Captain or FO, with regular updates, would go a long way. It would not help the situation any but it might appease some of the pax. People need to be kept informed. Some crews are goo at this and some are afraid of the mike. Been several years, but I wound up on US Air(Mesa) out of MEM to CLT. We kicked off the gate OT and went out to the runway end, shut down engines and sat. About 2 hours but never a word as far as what was going on. It was CAVU at MEM and not until engines fired did we get told that there was a ground stop at CLT because of a monumental Tstorm sitting right over the field, which in the space of that 2 hours, dumped 4" of rain plus the wind and lightening. We could not have done a thing about it but it would have been nice to know, rather than have to put up with all the rumors and crap floating around.
dee9bee 3
I, too have been there and done that. The worst situation for me as Captain was the scenario "ORD is ground stopped, next update in one hour" and on and on. I'd keep the pax informed but there wasn't much to tell.

This was before the Passenger Bill of Rights BS. Every time I'd authorize meal service on the ground (back when there were meals!) that ATC hole would open up. My point was the passenger exaggeration amount. If John Doe said that they sat on the runway for four hours, it probably wasn't four hours and they certainly weren't on the runway.
dee9bee..i fully understand your statement..i was a gate agent for years and the atc ground stops, or whatever were always a pain for everyone involved..boarding,unloading and reboarding because of quick changes..trying to get snacks or meals or whatever for passengers sitting and waiting..waiting for and calling the dispatcher over and over..and last but not least having passengers who were less than understanding about such delays and seemed to think the airlines created the bad weather situation or wanted the plane to sit on the tarmac with no gate or parking place available,and the multitude of "what about my connection" group of agents (not because we were required to)would make an announcement about every 10 or 15 minutes in the lobby or onboard the aircraft if it was at the gate,to advise passengers of what the dispatcher was telling us with regard to the situation....we also advised the captain and the f/a's as to what was going on either by radio (if on the tarmac), or in person if at the gate..common courtesy and good customer service/communication with all concerned...
Mark Lansdell 1
It's been my experience, when flying as a pax that the carrier would not pass on information they had. Communication usually solves problems and apprehension. You were so busy trying to appease the ticket holder you didn't solve any of his problems in the example above. A snack, while keeping him/her busy doesn't answer any questions about connecting flights. You don't need details as much as telling the pax there is more than one flight for their next leg.

I remember a trip to DNR from BWI delayed by additional deicing at BWI. My connection at DFW was long gone by the time I got there with family in tow and NO ONE helped me find a way from DFW to DNR The line at a makeshift information desk had 50 or more screaming pax in front of it so I resorted to the pay telephone to call AAL reservations who directed me to a boarding flight at another gate. My point is that we just spent all the time from BWI to DFW, a couple of hours and no mention of connecting flights was made and any question was rebuffed. All that time wasted and all the resources could have been available.

There have been no changes since the days of Stapelton Intl except that communications has improved 100 times. FAs act just like stewardesses. It's 'coffee, tea or soda and I don't know anything about connections or ground ops, or how to help you once we land.'
I recall back in 98 (looooooon gbefore Passenger Bill of Rights), my family and I flew UAL KIAD-KLAS for my uncle's wedding. We boarded on time, but sat at the gate for over an hour before pushing back, then we sat at the end of the taxiway for another 90 minutes before getting clearance to depart. The flight crew were considerate enough to let us know that they were waiting for corporate to file a new flight plan to route us around a long line of T-storms, and corporate decided that everyone would get free headphones and everyone who was legal would get free booze. I heard very few complaints once the free booze was announced. :D
preacher1 2
As noted by the comments below, ya'll at least communicated with your PAX. I think it is the NOT KNOWING that really stirs things up. As the one Captain said though, everytime meal service authorized, "Ya'll ready to go?" There ain't no winning. LOL
Lance Neward 1
Back in the 70's I was supervising a cabin crew on a 747 to Paris out of NY. Canadian ATC was on strike, so the clearances were few and far between. When we pushed back, we were 52nd for takeoff, but that was the way it was for everybody. The Captain was really good with announcements, and the passengers, while they didn't like the situation, were somewhat mollified when the decision was made (by the Captain with the cabin crew's concurrence) that we would serve dinner on the ground, then the pax would be able to sleep, movie, whatever undisturbed once airborne.

About 20 minutes into the service, we heard the PA click on, "Well, some good news, ladies and gentlemen, the wind has shifted and we are now number 2 for takeoff." The scrambling in that cabin was as hectic as the Keystone Kops, but a whole lot more professional. I called the cockpit, briefly explained the situation, and said, "Taxi slow, Steve, taxi slow!." We slid the last meal tray carrier cover into place just as we heard the engines staring to spool up for our takeoff roll. Everyone was in their seats with their belts on, but it was close!
A Large 1
Very interesting and informative article. I am flying to Hong Kong in a few weeks and will keep all this in mind .
Nick Aguilar 1
Some passengers whom doesn't know what is going on, will talk, and when they don't know the answer they will make up something.
But you hit the nail on the head with the 7 statements.
VKSheridan 1
As a passenger that spends more time in commercial aircraft than a car, I live with delays every week. Updates are nice but they really don't change the situation. If it is a ground stop at the destination, ATC, mechanical or whatever the cause, it is what it is and I accept that. Sadly, I also observe people who act like the carrier is purposely trying to challenge their connection and blaming it on a cargo door light. They vent on the flight attendants, gate agents, janitorial staff and anyone that looks like they'll tolerate a tantrum. The PEF mentioned in the previous comments tend to be more stretched than the E-string on a violin.....
thank you vk Sheridan for a well thought out comment..i have been on both sides of the coin as an employee trying to assist,and as a passenger stranded or delayed the old saying goes "patience is a virtue", and I have found many do not have it..i am sure this website will have an article and commentary about todays problems with travelers departing/arriving or connecting through ord because of the atc computer center fire,as all flights were cancelled and people had to be rerouted...
megavoyager 1
#1 - "Flying is expensive". The article says it's not (compared to 50 years ago), but that's not my experience. Maybe it's due to increased taxation - especially from those stupid European environmentalists, but back in 2000, it cost me and my family $400 per person for return, direct flights between Philadelphia and London. Now it costs $1200 for a direct flight (if you're lucky !) and we just can't afford it anymore. My wages have increased by about 15% since 2000, not 200% !!
preacher1 1
Well, depending on class, back in the day that same ticket would have been $5000 plus. Personally $400 is bad cheap and is probably why it is at $1200 now. It just took it awhile to adjust.
Mark Lansdell 1
Travel is expensive. I recently used AMTRAK for a trip from BWI to Albany, NY, rather than drive. The cost to go coach was over $200.00 and there was NO checked baggage. The hotel was discounted and still cost $150.00 a night and a full 1/3 of that was taxes and fees from people who had nothing to do with my trip.

Fixed and variable costs for an airline are enormous. I don't know how they operate with such low fares. The cost of fuel alone forced one carrier to buy it's own refinery, another low margin operation. Now, with the cost of oil drooping it's a choice they may regret.

I don't pretend to know the ins and outs of big business. I'm continually astounded at the magic and ingenuity of the minds that understand it all. They have, in many cases, delivered air travel for the cost of driving your car if you're traveling alone.
megavoyager 1
and the one about the cabin air NOT being full of germs ? give me a break ! it's happened to me as well, but I have known too many people who have become ill after plane journeys. it stands to reason - you're all in a confined space and if someone is breathing (or coughing, sneezing) out germs, then everyone else is going to breathe them in. if planes can't filter out the obnoxious smell from the khazi, then there's no way i'll believe they can filter out germs !
jcsjcs 1
The explanation is simple: the low humidity makes you more susceptible to catching on of the fewer germs around.


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