10 Myths & Facts About Flying

10 Myths & Facts About Flying | Editor: Florian Lieke

Why does tomato juice taste so good on a plane? And is flying the safest way to travel? We get to the bottom of ten myths about flying.


1. Myth: Pilots and Co-Pilots Eat Different Dishes

Fact. While it isn't an official rule, many airlines do recommend that the pilot and the co-pilot don't eat the same meals. This is to make sure that at least one of them remains fit to fly if a particular dish doesn't agree with the stomach. Other airlines recommend that their pilots at least eat at different times.

2. Myth: The Air Conditioner Spreads Germs in the Cabin

Myth. Air-conditioning units in airplanes work really hard. Due to the extreme external conditions, they have to regulate not only the temperature, but also the air pressure and humidity. The highly-specialised air filters used also extract bacteria, viruses and dust from the air, and even suck odour particles from the clothing of smokers. The air filters used in planes are comparable to those used in hospitals.

Austrian Airlines Economy Class

3. Myth: There Is No Row 13 on a Plane

Fact. At least partly. In the planes operated by Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa and many other airlines from countries where the number 13 is considered unlucky, there is indeed no row 13, since many passengers are reluctant to sit there. In Brazil or Italy, for example, there is no row 17, and there is no row 4 in China, since these numbers are considered in these countries to bring bad luck.

4. Myth: Pilots Avoid the Bermuda Triangle

Myth. The Bermuda Triangle lies in the northern part of the Caribbean. The area gained its notoriety thanks to a myth that a particularly high number of ships and planes had seemingly disappeared there under mysterious circumstances. Today, we know that the Bermuda Triangle emanates no particular danger. Pilots don't avoid the area and fly over it as normal.

5. Myth: Flight Paths Towards the East Allow for Higher Speeds

Fact. This phenomenon is caused by very strong high-altitude winds (also known as the jet stream) that blow around the planet at speeds of up to 500 km/h.


The earth rotates from west to east and so a plane moving in the same direction can utilise these winds. By contrast, the jet stream creates an obstacle for planes flying in the opposite direction.

6. Myth: Tomato Juice Tastes Better in the Air

Fact. In 2010, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute discovered that we perceive the taste of tomato juice to be rather insipid when we drink it on the ground. High above the clouds, however, it tastes sweet, fruity and much more like tomatoes. This is due to the reduced air pressure in planes, which influences our sense of taste. That being said, the bandwagon effect might also play a role in the fact that tomato juice is the second most popular drink on board, after water.


Did you know that we serve 180,000 litres of tomato juice to our passengers each year?

Myth 7: Flights to the West Cause Less Jet Lag

Fact. If we travel eastwards, our day is shortened and we lose time. This means that our body clock has to put itself back in order to adjust. Travelling westwards is easier: we hereby gain time and so our body clock simply has to move at a more leisurely pace. How easily we are able to cope with a time difference of several hours also depends on our sleeping habits. Night owls have less of a problem with journeys west, while early risers find travelling east more agreeable.

Myth 8: During a Three-Hour Flight, the Body Loses 1.5 Litres of Water

Fact. As a rule of thumb, we can say that, when flying, we lose about the same amount of fluids as when jogging, only without sweating, with water being lost via the skin and breathing. The weather also influences our loss of fluids. Just like on the ground, we lose more on a hot, dry summer's day than on a cool autumn day.


So, make sure you drink plenty of water - and don't worry about having to go to the toilet, since moving around is also very important, especially on long-haul flights.

Austrian Airlines Boeing 777 in the air

Myth 9: The Plane Is the Safest Means of Transport

Myth. The actual truth is that the plane is one of the very safest means of transport. Only the elevator is safer - though it won't take you nearly as far.

Myth 10: The Toilets Are Emptied in the Air

Myth. We've all heard about it before, but there's nothing to this legend. All components that are flushed down in the aircraft toilet are collected in a tank and only emptied on the ground

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