Common Occurrences On Flights And What They Mean


For many of us that fly frequently, we have established routines when it comes to packing, getting to the airport and even the flight itself. Once on board, we usually take that time to do things which, frankly, take our minds off the flight process. We read, watch movies, and some of us even catch up on a few hours of sleep. But while we’re distracted, there may be some things occurring during the flight that could tell us a lot about what’s going on with the plane. You know those pilots that occasionally sit in the main cabin?  You can bet they notice them. Getting to know these little tell-tale signs could make you a more efficient traveler. Here are six common occurrences on flights and what they mean to you.

Ice on the windows.

If you’ve ever had a window seat and looked out to see tiny ice crystals forming on the outside you probably didn’t think much of it. However, planes are de-iced with chemicals on the ground before takeout and those chemicals only last a certain amount of time. Icing is a good hint as to how long you’ve been flying and at what altitude. The higher you are, the higher the likelihood of ice.

Weird smells.

We’ve all experienced this one. But we’re not talking about weird “bodily” odors here. If you get a strange whiff of ozone or fuel, it could mean something more serious, like a problem with the fuel storage or electrical system on the plane. If you smell any of these, look for that pilot hitching a ride in the main cabin and take your cue from him.

The light angle coming through the window.

Planes are big, and being closed up in one for a long flight can be a bit disorienting. Planes can change direction and even drop substantially in altitude, and the passengers barely notice. If the light coming through the cabin windows suddenly changes the angle, it’s usually a sign the pilot has changed course, which is often the case just before descending for landing. This could give you some advanced time to stow all of your gear and prep for the touch down.

The landing procedures.

You know this one. Turn off your electronics, return your seats to the upright position and stow and lock your tray tables. If you’ve managed to pick up on some of the clues previously mentioned, you’ll know when these announcements are coming before the flight attendants make them, and you can get a jump on the process.