15 Airline Employees Talk About Some of the Secrets of the Trade

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Is there any industry that is more maligned or misunderstood than the airline industry? From charges to check in a bag to no leg space, traveling can be cumbersome and nearly impossible to handle at times.

Thankfully, many airline workers are willing and able to share some juicy, interesting, and even gross industry secrets.

One Redditor asked airline employees to share some secrets, and they really opened up!

15. Your Aircraft Could Go Missing

“When flying overseas there are generally no systems tracking the movement of your aircraft for several thousand miles i.e. how they go missing.”


14. Fakers Abound

“People fake needing a wheel chair to gain boarding priority. 10 wheelchairs get on and olny 1 person needs it getting off. We call um miracle flights.”


13. Bag Room Agents Really Care For Your Dogs

“If you checked your dog there’s about a 30% chance it’s terrified before it even gets on the plane, who knows how scared it gets during the actual flight.

Bag room agents will usually try to comfort a scared animal, but all we can really do is talk to it, so if you write your pet’s name on their carrier it usually helps a lot.

I’ve never seen a cat who was scared in the bag room, cats don’t give a fuck.”


12. Flight Standards Are Kinda Lax

“That there’s a huge list of things that can be missing from the aircraft while still being allowed to fly.”


11. Locks Don’t Help!

“Locks on zippered bags are useless.

You can pop a zipper with a pen and drag the locked zipper pulls around the bag to close them back up. I’ve done this many times to identify bags that are tagless and locked.”


10. Here’s an Armrest Hack

“You know how all the other armrests can be raised except for the one next to the aisle?

Turns out that one can be raised as well via a small button in a divot on the underside of the armrest. Useful if you want to spread out a bit more, though some flight attendants may tell you to put it back in place.”


9. Here’s What Happens to Skateboards

“If you check a skateboard by just slapping a sticker on it, it will get ridden or used as a dolly.”


8. Food Poisoning is Taken Seriously!

“2 pilots are served different meals and cannot share, this is done in case of food poisoning.”


7. Why Some Flights Are Held Up

“Paramedic here. If you switch on your alarm lights on the ambulance while being on the inner field of the airport (because…well you just get there sometimes) they will totally shut down all incoming and outgoing flights until they know exactly what’s going on. My Buddy learned this the hard way. Needless to say people got mad at him…”


6. Fixing Requires Paperwork

“I’m an outstation mechanic for multiple airlines.

I cover all flights at a major US city airport–by myself. Where to start? If your flight has a maintenance delay and there is no on station mechanics for that carrier I get called. If it’s a quick fix, I fix it. If not we check to see if it can be deferred to get fixed later. Either way, most of your delay is spent waiting on me to do all the paperwork to clear the aircraft or for me to finish the other seven calls I’m out on to get to your plane. There is also constant pressure on both me and the pilots to clear/fly aircraft that have some fairly significant problems. I have airlines try to get me to sell some pretty sketchy stuff to the pilots to get them to fly and avoid a costly delay.

I have no problems telling a pilot to call his controllers/dispatchers and tell them to fuck off if I’m not comfortable with whatever concoction of deferral action I was asked to perform. Don’t get me wrong, the airlines would never willingly fly an unsafe aircraft. But if there is say an engine vibration that is just right at a cunt hair under the limit they will fly it. If the oil is super low but servicing it will cause a delay–service it at the next stop. If the pilot encounters something at altitude that I can’t duplicate on the ground–sign it off and see if it happens again. Those are the ones I usually push back on depending what it is. Also, if you have to get out of your seat so a mechanic can fix something don’t bitch about it. I get harassed all the time by passengers even though my sole purpose is to get them in the air. Besides, I tell gate agents all the time not to load pax until I get out there but they never listen so go bitch at them.

This is turning into a soapbox so I will stop.”


5. Remove Old Tags!

“Not a secret, just common sense; the reason some bags miss their flight or get misrouted is because passengers don’t remove old tags. It confuses handlers as well as the conveyor belt scanners. I see it happen all the time.”


4. Some Planes Have Secret Compartments

“On larger aircraft, there are secret compartments where your cabin crew and flight crew are able to get much needed rest.

This is the flight crew rest on a Boeing 777 and it’s located above the ceiling of the first class cabin. There are two beds behind the seats as well as personal entertainment screens for each seat. This the the cabin crew rest of a Boeing 787 located above the economy class.

Older Boeing aircraft have crew rest areas within the passenger cabin and I’ve been told some Airbuses have crew rests under the floor.”


3. Headsets Aren’t New

“I used to work for warehouse that supplied a certain airline with items. The headsets that are given to you are not new, despite being wrapped up.

They are taken off the flight, “cleaned”, and then packaged again.”


2. Invest in Good Luggage!

“Flight attendants have a list of who is who and what seat they are in. As well as what level of frequent flyer they happen to be. Or if they are employees or family and friends tickets. This is why you will see them being rude to someone or bending over backwards for jerks.

Flights are routinely overbooked because there’s a estimate per route of what percentage of people tend to miss the flight. So if you don’t have a seat assignment, you might not get on. Which is why they ask for volunteers. If you are a frequent flyer and know the busy times and flights you could volunteer all day from every flight going to a hub and make $1,000 in credit.

Invest in quality luggage. You are the only one that handles your bag with care. Your bag is going to take a beating in the system.”


1. There Are Employee Perks!

“I’m sure it depends on the airline and their contract with other airlines, but most airlines allow free standby travel for employees and their family on their own flights. For example, if you work for Delta, you don’t have to pay anything* to fly for free on Delta flights. The exception within your own airline is international travel. You just pay taxes on that. I know I can fly first class from the U.S. to Paris and back for <$100.

If you want to fly on other airlines then you start paying fee’s per flight. There’s also something called ZED fares. Those allow heavily discounted rates on almost every major airline in the world, and a lot of the smaller ones too.

*There’s usually some kind of yearly opt-in fee of like $100-200.

EDIT: This applies to most U.S. airlines. I don’t know how European carriers work.

EDIT2: As many people have commented below, it’s only free if you fly standby. That means you don’t have a guaranteed seat. I also want to emphasize every airline is different. The contract that airline A has with airline B might not be the same contract that airline B has with airline C.”


Wow! It turns out working in an airline means you learn a lot about people, businesses, and strange but necessary protocols.

Are there any secrets you know about that weren’t on this list? Please share them with us!