Airline Cabin Secrets Revealed

For most airline passengers, we are like sheep - herded on board and into our seats for what might be a short commute or long haul flight half way around the world. Most people don't appreciate being placed in confined spaces for long periods of time, and as a consequence most of us choose to 'zone out' for the duration, remaining ignorant to the environment around us.

However, there are a few little known secrets inside airline cabins that may just wake us from our semi coma's when traveling by air. All commercial aircraft are full of little hidden switches buttons and hatches, many of which have secret functions only known to the crew, until recently that is.

Aisle Armrest

Despite our attempts, it seems the aisle arm rest can never be raised, on either the window or aisle side of the seating configuration. As it turns out they actually do, with the push of a hidden button underneath. The button is located under the armrest, normally close to the back, however the location may vary depending upon the aircraft. To raise the armrest, simply push and hold the button down while raising the armrest providing yourself with a whole lot more room to stretch out.

Armrest-Secret-Button The magic button beckons.

Armrest-Secret-Switch Another variation, this time using a flick switch, instead of the button:

Remember arm rests must remain down during taxi, take-off and landing, however once in cruising mode, passengers can really notice and appreciate the extra room afforded to them with a raised armrest.

The Lavatory Is Never Really Secure

Have you ever stopped to wonder about that metal plate on the door displaying the word ‘lavatory'? Its a given that the small cubicle is dedicated to providing a place where passengers can relieve themselves. Its now known the real purpose of this small label is to allow access from the outside.

This means passengers can never truly lock themselves in the toilet. The metal type label is a hinged panel which can be lifted up to reveal a secret locking bolt used to lock/unlock the door from the outside. Some airlines use this to lock washrooms during take-off and landing to stop people from entering. It’s also a safety mechanism to prevent someone from locking themselves away. It's a given that this secret doesn’t have a practical purpose for the everyday traveler, but it’s nonetheless very interesting!



Bathroom Amenities

Have you ever experienced an awkward situation where you are caught short mid flight without toilet paper when visiting the lavatory? Perhaps you require more soap, or are in desperate need of a toothbrush? Well fear not, there a number of different hatches and cupboards in the lavatories where extra amenities are stored.

On long-haul flights this can include lotions, toothbrushes, razors, sanitary equipment and hairbrushes/combs. The cupboards are generally only intended for crew access so their opening mechanisms are usually hidden. This varies a lot between aircraft and airlines, so you may need to hunt around the lavatory for a short time before finding the button/hatch. Often mirrors double as cupboards, so be on the look out for other opening mechanisms including hatches, pedals and buttons under a ledge.


Flight Crew Have A Code Name For Dead Passengers

Around 50,000 dead bodies are flown around the world every year as people often die away from home and need to be transported back to the family for the funeral service. Many airlines have a nickname for them so they can travel undetected. Some passengers may feel a little strange if they knew that there was a dead body sitting in the hold beneath them during their flight. This is why airlines have a nickname for dead bodies, so that they can fly undetected, and on some airlines they are called 'Jim Wilson.'

According to Sara Marsden, the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online, American Airlines even have a dedicated help desk for funeral homes that they call the American Airlines Jim Wilson Service. The nickname allows transport services or undertakers to call about a dead body without anyone overhearing. The name comes from the crates that are used to transport the bodies.

The Alcor 1997 Stabilization and Transport Manual explains that Jim Wilson Trays often used as the shipping container and are packed with ice to preserve the human remains. Other airlines simply call the dead bodies HR, an abbreviation for human remains.

Every dead body transported by plane needs to travel in a secured casket and then encased in an air-tray, as well as being accompanied by a burial transit permit or a health officer’s certificate. Interestingly, Amsterdam’s Airport Schiphol also has its own mortuary, which processes around 2,000 bodies a year.

Sandra Hawkins

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