Flights: A flight attendant has shared one big threat to aircraft
Cabin crew often seem to merely have the simple job of greeting passengers and serving them food and drink. However, as with many professions, there is much more to the job of a flight attendant than meets the eye. One major responsibility of a cabin crew member is to make sure everyone is safe onboard should something go wrong - and they are well trained in emergencies.
A flight attendant has shared one big threat to aircraft - and it’s all to do with the plane toilets.
Former British Airways cabin manager Simon Marton explained the worrying fact in his book Journey of a Reluctant Air Steward.
The flight attendant revealed that a plane bathroom is the very worst place a fire can start.
“The toilet is probably the worst place in the cabin to start a fire,” wrote Marton.
“It can spread quickly and infiltrate panels, destroying vital cables along its course, so we carried fire axes and a jemmy (crowbar) as standard.”
Ever since the 1980s, smoking has been banned onboard aircraft.
However, many people are often left confused by the presence of ashtrays in plane toilets.
Why are they there, even in new aircraft, if smoking is prohibited?
Ashtrays in plane loos are in fact listed as a legal requirement for “minimum equipment” by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
In short, this is because they need to be built into plane toilets purely as a precaution.
If there is an ashtray in the bathroom, anyone daring to smoke has somewhere to stub out their cigarette.
Without an ashtray present, there’s a chance the flier could throw the butt into the bathroom’s rubbish bin and accidentally spark a fire - a risk airlines are not willing to take.
In short, airlines don’t trust passengers to not light up, and, contrary to opinion, they are not there as a sign it’s acceptable to smoke.
A Cathay Pacific flight attendant told TIME: “You’re not allowed to smoke, but some people still do it.”
The cabin crew member even revealed she catches somebody smoking about every six months. “So if you do smoke there has to be a safe place to stub it out,” she said.
There are very strict industry rules in place concerning ashtrays, too.
If an ashtray on a plane a with only one such tray breaks, it needs to be replaced with three days.
If a plane has more than one, it has to be replaced within 10 calendar days, according to the FAA.
Authorities have good reason to have these rules in place. In 1973 a plane from Rio de Janeiro to Paris had to make an emergency landing killing 123 passengers on board after the cabin reportedly filled with smoke.
Although unconfirmed, the suspected culprit was a cigarette.