5 Questions All Travellers Have About Flying – Answered!


As a seasoned traveller, you will know that flying is an integral part of touring the world. While other means of transport are technically possible, they are far from preferable. If you’re on a schedule and want to get to your destination with a minimum of fuss, then flying will always be the preferable choice.

Despite the commonality of using aircraft to explore the world, there’s no doubt that it remains a somewhat mystical process. When this is combined with the hassle and stress of processing through security, managing check-in times, and dealing with various fees and surcharges, the entire experience of taking a flight can often feel outright stressful. One of the causes of this stress is that the process of taking a flight, and the flight itself, are so little understood, meaning you’re often doing and seeing things that you can’t justify or explain.

In an effort to address this issue, below are five of the most common questions people have about flights and the associated process– and, at last, the answers that you have been needing.

“Is [that noise] normal?”

 One of the most common questions people find themselves asking themselves when flying is whether or not a noise they have heard is “normal”. A groan, a creak from the fuselage, an excited rev from the engine; all are enough to cause a shock of panic.

This is a problem that impacts all flyers, as even seasoned flyers will experience different aircraft, which means being exposed to myriad different sounds. Due to this, it’s impossible to outright say that yes, all noises are normal, but it is worth reassuring yourself that strange noises are perfectly normal and routine during a flight.

An aircraft is a combination of thousands of different moving parts, all of which can create noise that can be heard in the cabin. For the most part, noise is to be expected. If you hear something you’re unsure about, try looking to the cabin crew for their reactions: if they are carrying on as normal, you can be absolutely assured that the noise is just part and parcel of flight.

“What is the point of airplane seatbelts?”

 In the event of a crash, it seems unlikely that a seatbelt would be enough to protect you– they are not particularly substantial, especially when compared to car seatbelts. So why wear them at all?

A crash is extremely unlikely when travelling by aircraft, but issues with turbulence or a bumpier-than-expected landing are not. Seatbelts are there to protect you during these instances, when keeping you rooted to your seat is the best option for everyone involved. Statistics show a number of people are injured every year due to not wearing their seatbelt during in-flight turbulence, so it’s definitely worth keeping yours fastened throughout the flight!

“What’s the difference between chartered and commercial flights?”

 Confusion between the definition of these two terms in common, so let’s keep the answer simple:

  • Chartered flights are effectively private and booked “on demand” rather than operating a constant schedule. Chartered flights also allow the passenger to travel without having to go through security/TSA checks. Chartered flights are more affordable and convenient than you might expect, so it’s well worth browsing for more info if you’re intrigued by the idea.
  • Commercial flights operate to a regular schedule. These can be booked by anyone and passengers are required to go through security or (in the USA) TSA checks.

“Is the “brace” position designed to kill people humanely?”

This is a very strange myth that has gained a huge amount of popularity. The idea is that the standard brace position, which all passengers are encouraged to adopt in emergency situations, is designed to kill people humanely rather than them having to suffer through the horrors of a crash and subsequent fire.

Thankfully, it’s not true. In fact, an episode of Mythbusters disproved this myth:

Snopes have also found this myth to be false. The brace position is, without a doubt, the best position to adopt if you ever find yourself in an emergency scenario, so listening to the security briefing and make sure you follow suit if informed to do so.

“Why do flight times vary?”

 If you were to take a flight along the same route three times on three different days, the duration of each flight would vary. The variation is unlikely to be substantial — around 10 minutes is common — but it would nevertheless be different on each flight. Many frequent flyers wonder why this is.

There are a number of causes for the variation in the duration of a flight:

  • The direction of travel. The jet stream’s influence means that it takes longer to fly west than it does to fly east.
  • Wind is also a major factor in the variation of flight duration. If winds are high — and they can sometimes reach 100 knots at cruising altitude — then this is either a negative (if you’re flying into the wind) or a positive (if the wind is behind you).
  • Landing slots can also be a factor in the duration of the flight. If your flight is unable to land when it reaches the airport (or reached the airport faster than expected due to a strong tail wind) then your flight will have to circle the airport until a landing slot becomes available.

 In conclusion

For most travellers, flying is an integral part of the travelling experience. Hopefully you have enjoyed reading the answers to some of the most common questions people have regarding the whole flight experience, allowing you to take your next trip feeling as informed as possible!


Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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