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You can get sucked into an aircraft toilet and other flying myths debunked

Passengers need not worry about being sucked into the toilet as aircraft toilets have a closed vacuum system. Picture: Pixabay

Passengers need not worry about being sucked into the toilet as aircraft toilets have a closed vacuum system. Picture: Pixabay

Published May 20, 2021


Travelling by plane can arouse many emotions for travellers. Some people love every moment of a flight, from take-off, entertainment offerings and the gorgeous views mid-air, while others dread it with a passion.

Most of the time, this has to do with some myths they had heard about flying, which can cause many to opt out of flying altogether.

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Thankfully, General Manager Southern Africa Air France-KLM, Wouter Vermeulen, debunked some of the myths that travellers have about travelling.

These include:

Thunderstorms increase the risk of an airplane crash

Let's face it, thunderstorms can be scary, especially when you are flying. However, Vermeulen said that many pilots avoid thunderstorms and the chances of a crash are slim.

“Pilots do avoid thunderstorms because the related turbulence can be very uncomfortable for passengers. Lightning striking the aircraft can damage systems, but not to the extent that flight safety is impaired. If this happens, a special comprehensive inspection takes place once the plane has landed,” he said.

Flying during Covid-19 is dangerous

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Many avid travellers have ditched flying since the pandemic and opted for road trips instead. Vermeulen said that airlines took extreme caution to minimise risk and ensure passenger and crew safety.

He said airlines limited physical interaction and contact between passengers and crew, enforce mandatory mask use, and planes were equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters.

He explained in detail: “Cabin air is not circulated in a way that would allow the virus to reach other passengers. Air is sucked out of the cabin using vents in the floors, passed through the HEPA filters, mixed with fresh air from the outside and injected back in through air outlets and individual vents.

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“This vertical movement of air forms a protective barrier between rows, making it highly unlikely that the virus could pass between passengers.”

You can get sucked into an aircraft toilet

Let’s hope travellers do not skip bathroom breaks due to this myth.

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Vermeulen said that passengers need not worry about being sucked into the toilet as aircraft toilets have a closed vacuum system.

“When you flush the toilet, a powerful vacuum system located near the waste tank sucks down anything that’s lying over the hole and draws it down into the tank. The toilets and their vacuum systems are designed in a way that passengers won’t be sucked in,” he said.

The aircraft door can be opened during a flight

Do not believe what you see in Hollywood movies; the aircraft door remains locked throughout the flight.

“The cabin doors can only be opened if the pressure on the inside and outside of the aircraft are virtually the same,” Vermeulen said.

“The pressure inside and outside is certainly not the same after take-off. The air pressure at high altitude is dangerously low and the reason why cabin pressure is increased artificially.”

He said the door fits into the aircraft almost like a cork.

“When the door is closed, cabin pressure is exerted on the door. The force with which this takes place is determined by the difference in interior and exterior air pressure as well as the surface area of the door. In short, you can not just open the door at cruising altitude. Once the plane has landed, the door opens after the pressure difference is minimised,” he said.

If you are born aboard an aircraft, you get to fly free of charge for the rest of your life

Most babies born on a flight may get free flights for the rest of their lives, but this depends on the airline. So, if you’re thinking of giving birth on a flight to get your baby free flights for life, you may want to think twice.

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