7 Secrets I Learned Sitting Next to a Pilot on My Last Flight

“I looked to my left; I looked to my right — there were airline pilots on both sides of me. Fresh off their route, they were headed back to their hub in the U.S. I’m usually not one for in-flight conversation but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to pick the brain of a pilot.” Leah Ginsberg of Yahoo! shares the 7 secrets she learned while chatting with a pilot, thanks to Mark at Yahoo! for sharing.

1. Pilots get sick of each other, just like the rest of us. “Do you want to sit together?” I asked the pilot sitting in the window seat to my left, motioning to the other pilot, who was sitting in the window seat in the adjacent row to my right. “No,” said the pilot. “I just sat next to him for five hours in the cockpit.” It must be like sharing a cubicle.

2. Flying is so uncomfortable, even pilots have to use travel hacks. My pilot neighbor had a lumbar pillow with him, which he pulled out and stuck behind his lower back. “I learned this from reading a travel story,” he told me. (Apparently cockpit seats aren’t much better than cabin ones.) He also had a pile of antibacterial wipes on the seat between us. “Here, use one of these,” he said as he wiped down his armrests, the tray table, and the back of the seat in front of him. Plus, he had these sage words of advice: “Never touch the faucets in the bathroom on a plane.” Yes, sir. Good to know.

3. Pilots know interesting facts about planes, like why the windows are rounded. “Back in the day [from the late 40s to the early 50s], the first commercial jet — it was called the Comet — was built with square windows,” explained my pilot pal. “It kept crashing and they couldn’t figure out why. It turned out it was because of the shape of the windows. The corners of the square windows would develop cracks. The rounded shape puts less stress on the windows.” Thank God they figured that one out.

Check out the remainder of the list here.

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