travel & lifestyle blog by ruth dela cruz


9 Common Misconceptions First-Time Flyers Have about Flying

March 28, 2023

From turbulence causing planes to crash to being vacuumed into an aircraft’s toilet, myths about flying run amok. But what could be the reason behind these irrational fears? Only 5% of the world’s population has ever been on an airplane, according to Reader’s Digest, which leaves the remaining 95% with overactive imaginations.

Flying has often been touted as one of the safest modes of transportation, but many still have gripping fears about boarding planes. In the Philippines, where air passenger traffic is slowly picking up following the pandemic, many first-time fliers dread their flights due to several unfounded rumors. Luckily, you don’t need to attend a pilot school in the Philippines to ease your fears. Read on and learn some of the most persistent myths about flying below.

Turbulence Is Dangerous

While turbulence can be frightening, it doesn’t mean the plane will crash. Planes juddering due to changing wind speeds and weather conditions are common, and pilots are experts at navigating through such turbulence. All modern planes are built to handle the worst, but you should buckle your seatbelts and pay attention to your cabin crew to avoid untoward injuries like falling.

Cabin Air Spreads Sicknesses

It’s easy to imagine how the enclosed space of an aircraft cabin can be a breeding ground for viruses, but this is far from the case. Cabin air is surprisingly clean, thanks to the HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) system, which extracts dust, viruses, and bacteria. The technology allows air to circulate freely within the cabin: over 40% of cabin air is filtered through HEPA, while the remaining is fresh air sourced from outside.

Passengers Can Get Sucked into Toilets

While plane lavatories can be uncomfortable for many reasons, the possibility of being sucked down the toilet is not one of them. As of 2023, there has been only one documented case of a woman stuck in an aircraft toilet due to the vacuum generated while flushing. As cabin toilets do not have airtight seals, it is impossible to get sucked down due to flushing.

Toilet Waste Is Emptied Mid-Air

The absence of underground plumbing at 30,000 feet leaves first-time fliers to believe that airplane toilet waste is unloaded mid-air. While this is true for early flying, today’s modern aircraft feature sophisticated waste management. All waste is flushed down to the plane’s rear, ready to get siphoned into the airport’s underground sewage system upon landing.

All Aviation Accidents Are Lethal

With today’s improvements in flight safety, travelers who encounter an aviation accident have a 95.7% chance of survival, according to the US National Transportation Safety Board. Aside from advanced aircraft design, travelers should also thank flight schools for improving flight safety. For instance, aspiring pilots who attend a pilot school in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world are trained in new ways to handle emergencies, while cabin crew are taught how to handle emergency evacuations.

Aircraft Are Entirely Self-Flying

Automation is integrated into most of today’s machines, leading many travelers to believe that planes can fly themselves. This is true, considering how 90% of a typical commercial flight is driven on auto-pilot, but this doesn’t remove the pilot’s responsibilities. While most modern aircraft can fly and land automatically, pilots must issue the command to auto-pilot and remain attentive while autopilot is on. Pilots still need to engage manual controls in scenarios when there is extreme turbulence or during takeoff and landing.

You Can Get Lost in the Bermuda Triangle

Thanks to spooky stories and conspiracy theorists, many first-time travelers believe that pilots consciously try to avoid passing through the Bermuda Triangle for fear of mysteriously disappearing. Thankfully, the Bermuda Triangle mystery is merely an urban legend that spread like wildfire in the 1950s and 1960s. There is no danger in flying through this area of the Atlantic Ocean, and pilots do not avoid it.

Alcohol Is More Potent in Higher Altitudes

Why do some people report getting buzzed faster when on board a plane? While the alcohol content in beverages stays the same at 30,000 feet, our slightly decreased blood oxygen levels due to higher altitudes are to blame. Try to moderate your alcohol intake when flying to avoid feeling hammered on touchdown.

Using Phones Mid-Flight Can Cause Plane Crashes

Mobile phones not set to airplane mode might disrupt the pilot’s headsets and in-flight deck speaker system, preventing them from communicating efficiently with ground control. Communication is essential for pilots during critical phases of flight, and mobile phone interference can be bothersome. Still, there’s no reason to fear if you forget to switch on your phone’s airplane mode. While you will probably annoy everyone in the cockpit, you won’t cause the plane to crash.


Many of the most persistent myths about flying are entirely exaggerated and unfounded. First-time flyers should know that riding an aircraft is generally safe, and it’s easier to ease one’s first-flight jitters by understanding the truth behind the common misconceptions

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