While most of us are busy looking for the best flight deals and jocking for the best seats, in the back of our minds while we sit there in flight, we want to know the truth behind our flight attendants, plane engineers and pilots. Wonder no more!
The flight crew from Cathay Pacific tell all when it comes to travel in the sky.
How do pilots combat jet lag and time zone changes?
Emanuel: If I’m flying on a route that may result in jet lag or body clock issues, I try to do some exercise to help me relax my body and mind. Then I try to get some sleep a few hours before my duty starts.
Once I’m flying, coffee or black tea helps me stay alert through my body clock’s ‘night’ stage. After we finish duty, the first thing I always do is sleep for about four or five hours before going out with the crew.
During the layover period, I try to stay ‘in tune’ with my home time in Hong Kong to minimize sleep disruption when I get back.
How does pilots past the time in-between flights?
Simon: Well it depends on which city I am flying to, but, for example, I always try to request a Vancouver flight each month in the winter because I love to go snowboarding on Cypress Mountain.
After I arrive, I go to the hotel and get a good night’s sleep. Then I get up the next morning early, at 6am, have a good breakfast and catch a bus that takes you straight to Cypress Mountain. I spend the whole day snowboarding and get back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep before I fly back to Hong Kong.
Are flight attendants task with cleaning the bathrooms?
Victor: Yes we check the washrooms regularly to make sure they are clean and have enough toiletries for all users – including ourselves! (Yes, the cabin crew use the same toilets as the passengers). If the toilet floor is slippery, we need to clean it, and we also need to be alert for fire as a result of people trying to smoke.
It’s been said that flight attendants have to be a certain height, weight and attractive. Is this true?
Kenji: You don’t necessarily need to be 160cm tall, as long as you can reach to 208cm. As for looks, we look at your personality. If you have a beautiful, sincere, genuine smile, a warm and kind heart, and you’re willing to help others, you’re what we are looking for.
Are there ever any special meals that are offered during a flight? If so, when are they served?
Candy: We have many different types of special meals. Sometimes we distribute the special meal first because, for example, when a mother travels with a little child and orders the ‘child meal’, she may need to take care of them.
If the mother gets her meal and the ‘child meal’ at the same time, then after she feeds her child, her own meal may be cold. If we have passengers who have ordered the ‘diabetic meal’, they may also ask for preferred times for medical reasons.
What sort of material is an aero plane designed with?
Robert: The wings and bodies of the majority of passenger aircraft flying today are constructed from aluminum as it is light and strong. Steel and titanium are used in high load absorbing areas such as the landing gear.
For the latest generation of aircraft such as the Airbus A350, over 50 per cent of the aircraft is now constructed from carbon fiber – which is even lighter and stronger than aluminum and resistant to corrosion.
How heavy is the paint on say… a 747-400?
Patrick: The paint on a fully painted 747 weighs about 250kg.
What’s up with the small windows on a plane?
Suresh: Using a Boeing Aircraft as an example, the design of aircraft windows takes into account a number of factors beyond the basic necessity of visibility.
The size of windows on aluminum aero planes are generally decided to maintain load requirements set by Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (US regulatory body).
With larger windows, you have to increase the strength capability of the fuselage skin and window frame support structure. Hence, as it gets bigger, then the skin thickness and all the support structure must be enhanced which will increase the weight of the aero plane.
In effect, you are providing an acceptable window size while trying to minimize aero plane weight to improve overall performance.
How is the plane guarded from lightening strikes?
Stanley: Primarily the pilot will try to avoid lightning strikes by using the weather radar and flying around storms where the lightning is likely to occur.
The circular shape and the conductive nature of the fuselage means that the plane’s body becomes a ‘Faraday cage’, which allows energy from the lightning to flow around the plane, thus protecting the people inside.