10 Secrets Your Pilot Has Always Wanted To Tell You

“This is your captain speaking.”  (Well, a Huff Post travel writer anyway 😉 )

We see flight attendants often, but pilots tend to be much more secluded. With so much airtime and so little face time, there are a few things they want to share with the masses.

So we asked commercial airline pilots who have their own aviation blogs to name the one thing they wish their “pax” – that’s airline speak for “passengers” – knew. Their responses, along with some shared by their friends, shed a whole new light on life in the cockpit.

1. Pilots don’t like cancelled flights, either.

“As passengers, one of the most aggravating situations is an extensive delay followed by the ultimate cancellation. We miss our friend’s wedding, our cruise, or our child’s baseball game. However, I wish passengers knew that when we cancel a flight, the flight crews miss their special events, too.”
― Karlene Petitt of Flight to Success

2.  You shouldn’t cut it too close when booking.

“Passengers plan a trip and fly up to the last minute before they need to be there or back at work. Then they get mad at airlines if there is a delay/cancellation.”
― Pilot who asked to remain anonymous

3. There’s an official definition of “on time” and it’s not what you think.

“ ‘On time’ for departure is pushing back from the gate at published departure time (and up to 14 minutes later). ‘On time’ for arrival is plus or minus 14 minutes.”
― Pilot who asked to remain anonymous

4. Turbulence can come out of nowhere…

“Pilots can avoid predicted or reported turbulence, but that hardly guarantees a smooth ride. The atmosphere is an ever-changing fluid, producing turbulence almost instantaneously. So ALWAYS keep your seatbelt on when seated.”
― Chris Manno of JetHead, who is also a pilot with American Airlines 

5. …But there’s a way to have less of it on your flight.

“If people are concerned about turbulence, they need to take early-morning flights for the smoothest air.”
― Laura Einsetler of Captain Laura

6. Flight durations aren’t set in stone.

“The length of a flight at the time someone books a ticket is based on historical data. The real length of a flight varies.”
― Pilot who asked to remain anonymous

7. Autopilot isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“It’s pilots who are flying your plane – human beings, not some high-tech autopilot. People have a vastly exaggerated notion of what cockpit automation actually does.”
― Patrick Smith of Ask the Pilot

8. Your pilot is no dummy.

“I wish people knew how much experience, training, education and requirements must be met before we are allowed to even fly these jets.”
― Laura Einsetler of Captain Laura

9. Cancellations could save your life.

“Pilots use their experience and best judgment to make that very hard choice to stay on the ground and cancel a flight. That choice is not made lightly and is always based on safety.”
― Karlene Petitt of Flight to Success

10. Looking around could save your life too.

“I wish passengers knew how many rows to their nearest exit. Most accidents are survivable if you get out.”
― Anne Fletcher


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