10 Answers to Questions About Planes That We’ve Always Wanted to Ask

Every time you travel by plane, you probably wonder why the food is so bad there. And no, it’s not of poor quality on purpose or because the airlines don’t care what the passengers eat. There’s actually a harmless explanation for this, as well as for other plane-related questions that have been bugging people for ages.

We at Bright Side decided to make plane travel a bit more transparent for you, so here are the answers you’ve been looking for.

1. Why the windows are round

This window shape is important for our safety. Square windows are dangerous because the sharp angles are the plane’s weak spots that can crack because of air pressure. Rounded corners help distribute the stress, lowering the risk of the windows breaking. Circular shapes can also resist deformation caused by the differences in pressure better.

2. Why there’s a hole in the window

There are 3 panes in the window. The middle and outer panes are the most important because they’re needed to contain the difference in pressure between the cabin and the outside. The middle pane has a hole in it, called a “breather hole.”

This hole allows pressure to equilibrate between the passenger cabin and the air gap between the panes. As a result, the outer pane bears the most pressure. So if something causes added strain, it’s the outer pane that will give out, and you’ll still be able to breathe thanks to the 2 other panes. This hole also releases moisture from the air gap, which prevents fog or frost from forming on the window.

3. Why planes have red and green lights on their wings

These lights are used for navigation. The red light is located on the plane’s left wing, and the green light is located on the plane’s right wing. This way, the plane becomes more visible at night, and it also tells other pilots and air traffic control in which direction the plane is moving. The combination of these 2 colors also makes it less likely for a plane to be confused with other aircraft, like drones or balloons.

4. Why the seats are kept in an upright position during takeoff and landing

This is important for your safety and the safety of other passengers. If a seat is reclined, it will make it more difficult for the passengers sitting behind it to evacuate in an emergency. Moreover, those passengers won’t be able to adopt the brace position. If someone’s sitting in a reclined chair, they’re also more likely to get a head injury during a bumpy landing since their head would travel further and generate more force before slamming into the seat in front of them.

5. What that sinking feeling is just after takeoff

Once a plane is in the air, the rate of acceleration decreases. This can make you feel weightless, or like your stomach is sinking. While the plane was climbing up, you were climbing up with it. Then, after it levels off and the climb rate decreases, your body still continues to move up because of inertia.

6. If a plane door can be opened mid-flight

No, it can’t, so there’s nothing to worry about. The door is mechanically locked and controlled by the pilot. It can be opened manually, but only when you land and the pilot hands off control. During the flight, however, it’s not possible because the cabin pressure, which is higher than the outside pressure, seals it shut.

7. Why they don’t have the same seatbelts as in cars

For shoulder straps to work, they need to be attached to something sturdy, like a car frame or a car seat. Airplane walls and seats aren’t equipped for that, and modifications would make the plane heavier, which means extra fuel would be needed. The belts also have lift-lever buckles instead of push buttons. This makes the belts stronger, and that type of buckle is also hard to open accidentally, but easy to open by yourself in an emergency.

8. Why it’s always so cold

The temperature aboard the plane is actually cold on purpose. This has to do with a medical condition called hypoxia, which occurs when your body doesn’t get enough oxygen. This condition combined with warm air can increase the risk of fainting. Apart from that, it can also feel colder than it actually is because of the low humidity.

9. Why the food is so bad

Meals are prepared in advance. And to prevent the food from drying out, they add a lot of fluids to it, like sauce, which can make it taste weird. Moreover, the dry air suppresses our sense of smell. Sweet and salty flavors also taste less intense to us because of the low air pressure and background noise. That means that airplane meals probably taste good on the ground, but we perceive them differently in the air.

10. Why they offer tomato juice

It might seem unusual that tomato juice is so popular on planes. This also happens due to the change in the way we taste foods. While sweet tastes become less sweet and thus less enjoyable to us, the umami taste is heightened because of the loud background noise. That’s why we crave something savory, like tomato juice. Because of the cabin pressure, its flavor can even taste sweet.

What other questions about planes do you have? Do you know other curious facts on the topic?

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