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50 Airplane Facts You’ve Always Been Curious About

Flying can spark a lot of questions about everything from the iffy food to the holes in the airplane windows. Brush up on your airplane trivia, and become an airplane expert before you fly off for your next trip.

Passenger using smartphone for close to us airplane mode.ShutterOK/Shutterstock

Why do you have to put your phone into Airplane Mode?

Perhaps you've heard that your little phone can actually interfere with the plane's navigation or other important equipment? Not quite. Actually, your phone is supposed to be in Airplane Mode because the Federal Communications Commission bans the use of cell phones on the plane to protect against radio interference. So you could potentially pick up service from multiple cell towers, and crowd networks, disrupting your service. Here's more about why you'll want to switch your phone over to Airplane Mode.

Ashtray on the plane. Ashtray symbol on the plane. no smoking airplanePhysics_joe/Shutterstock

Why do airplanes have ashtrays?

We're not allowed to smoke on board a plane, so what's the point? And U.S. airlines banned smoking decades ago nationally and internationally, so surely by now, they would have rid the planes of the ashtrays, right? Well, since some people (#rulebreakers) still insist on smoking in the plane, they need a safe spot to stub out the cigarettes. It's safer to do it in an ashtray than in the toilet, which may contain flammable tissues. The ashtrays are actually legally required by the FAA, according to Time. Find out 13 things airlines won't tell you (but every flier should know).

Pilots at work in cockpitRoman Becker/Shutterstock

Who is in charge on the plane?

The Pilot In Command has unlimited authority whenever the plane doors are closed, according to Think Aviation. The federal regulations allow the PIC to restrain a passenger, write fines, refuse entry to a passenger, and even take a will, Insider says. It's almost like he's the president of everything in the sky. Don't mess with that pilot. Find out 40 things airplane pilots wish you knew.

Airplane seat and window inside an aircraftpaul prescott/Shutterstock

Why are the seats blue?

Not all are blue (Virgin Atlantic's seats are red, for example) but the majority are blue...because it's a calm color and it's easy to keep clean. Pantone named blue the 2020 color of the year due to its ability to instill calm and confidence—key for those who are sitting in those blue seats. Here are more reasons behind those blue seats.

Closeup of man holding passports and boarding pass at airportTravnikovStudio/Shutterstock

What do the codes on your boarding pass mean?

Sure, you probably know about your name, the date, and the seat number. But there are also a few secrets: the first two letters that come before your flight number are the airline. The numbers on your flight number tell you your flight direction (odd-numbers fly south while even numbers fly west); and the six-character segment of text is your passenger name reference, and can be used to find your age, credit card info, and destination. If your boarding pass lands in the wrong hands, it could be a potential security risk.

pregnant mother happy enjoy flight security when go on vacationOdua Images/Shutterstock

What happens if you go into labor on a plane?

Technically, you're not supposed to fly after you're 36 weeks pregnant. But things don't always go as planned, and sometimes that baby wants to get out before he's due. That's why some flight attendants are trained to deliver a baby, according to Travel & Leisure. They would still request the help of any doctors on board if they are available and willing to assist. These are 15 of the craziest things flight attendants have ever seen on the job.

Interior inside of the plane with passengers.Dmitri Ma/Shutterstock

Is there a seat on the plane where you'll most likely get sick?

Yup. According to a study funded by Boeing, conducted by scientists from Emory University and Georgia Tech, those sitting in a sick flier's row or the seat behind a sick flier will most likely catch their germs and become sick. In fact, if there's someone sick in your row, that person has an 80 percent chance of infecting everyone in their row, plus the rows directly in front and behind them. The best way to avoid catching a bug is to sit in a window seat. The aisles are the most likely spots for catching and passing germs. Find out the very best seat on the plane for every type of need.

airplane fuelStanislaw Tokarski/Shutterstock

Do airlines try to save money on fuel?

Yes, they're just like us. But that's not a great thing, according to a report by Spanish safety investigator that focused on budget airliner Ryanair. Researchers found that a Ryanair plane landed in a Spanish airport in 2010 with less than the legally required amount of fuel required. Apparently, doing this saves the company $5 million annually.

lavatorykanyaphak nakalekha/Shutterstock

Can you unlock the bathroom from the outside?

Yes. In case of emergency, there's a hidden latch to open an airplane bathroom from the outside. It's concealed under the bathroom sign, and by flicking it, the door opens. Flight attendants can use this if someone gets sick or if a child becomes stuck in the bathroom, according to Express. Don't try this on your own—it's not a latch created so you can play a practical joke on a friend. Here's how to get out of your seat and to the bathroom without disturbing your neighbor (too much).

Photography of emergency equipment in aircraft at exit door.santi lumubol/Shutterstock

How long does it take for a fire to spread through a plane?

Get ready to run—it takes just 90 seconds for a fire to spread through a plane, and that's why the FAA requires that aircraft can be evacuated in just 90 seconds. It's advised to know where all the emergency exits are on the flight and to actually pay attention when the flight attendants offer their safety lessons. Find out the reasons behind seemingly "weird" airplane rules.

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