We all know that there are things that every industry would prefer we didn’t know and there are certainly some secrets of the travel industry that won’t add enjoyment to our trips if we let them over take our thoughts. Remember, when journalists tout these “dirty secrets,” they aren’t always from the best sources, and quite often there might just be a few culprits and the secret doesn’t apply in general. Here are some of the more well known so-called secrets of the travel industry and a few things to put them in perspective should you come across them elsewhere.
Most people wouldn’t think twice about drinking water from the tap on an airplane, because in this day and age it must be safe right? – Wrong! One of the most disturbing secrets of the travel industry regarding major airlines is that most companies only feel the need to clean their water tanks a couple of times each month, which MAY result in unsafe water. In 2004 the Environmental Protection Agency in America actually carried out microbiological water testing on the tanks of 327 different planes and found that over 14 per cent were providing unsanitary tap water! Solution – don’t drink “tap” water on an airplane.
Whilst most airlines would have you believe that they’re sporting the latest technology in their planes, including all of the appropriate bells and whistles, this is unfortunately usually not the case. One of the airline travel industry secrets is the fact that the mean age of major airline’s airplanes in countries such as America is roughly 14 years old (depending on the airline). While this generally won’t affect the safety of the plane, it certainly affects the amount of leg room and the entertainment options on offer. Solution – if the idea bothers you, research the fleet of your prospective airline and check the ages of their planes. The information is usually freely available.
Have you ever felt a little grossed out by the fact that hundreds of people have most likely slept in your hotel bed before you? If you have, then the following travel industry secret may just bring out your inner germaphobe! In most hotels the bedspreads are rarely changed and the beds are only protected by a thin sheet, allowing body fluids, skin cells and other nasty things to make their way into the mattress. So next time you’re enjoying a night away in a classy hotel, try not to think about what what’s under the bed! Solution – you can spray the bed and spread with a small can of Lysol. One person I know always packs her own bed sheet!
A lot of seasoned travelers spend hours scouring the Internet for the best available rental car deal before jetting off on their holiday. Unfortunately for them, however, one of the best kept travel industry secrets is that the rental car business in most countries is something of a monopoly. If you decide that a company such as Hertz is too expensive, for example, and book with Thrifty or Dollar instead, guess what?! Hertz owns both companies. The same can be said for Avis and Enterprise, who both control their own budget agencies. Solution – don’t worry! Does it matter as long as you get a deal you are happy with?
Can you imagine holding the lives of roughly 300 people in your hands at one time? This is something that pilots do on a daily basis. A travel industry secret that may make you think twice about boarding a plane, however, is that most pilots are severely overworked and underpaid. Why it is ok for a pilot to work a 16 hour shift without breaks, whilst a truck driver would be fined for such reckless behaviour is a mystery. Solution – remember, there is always a co-pilot to share the load and an autopilot which can do most of the work on a long flight.
Watching flight attendants milling around at the gate when your flight is delayed is possibly one of the most infuriating things about flying. An even more maddening, but well kept, travel industry secret is the fact that they may be delaying your flight on purpose! Why would they do this you ask? Flight attendants are often paid overtime if a flight is delayed by a certain amount, which means that if a flight is already running a little late, they may be inclined to drag their feet to ensure that they receive their overtime payment. Solution – IF this is true, just put up with it; there’s nothing to be done!
In a day and age when everyone is worried about their environmental footprint, cruise companies are cashing in by marketing themselves as an environmentally friendly holiday option. Something that they would consequently prefer that you didn’t know, however, is that their air and raw sewage emissions often make them just as harmful to their surroundings as every other form of modern travel. Solution – environmentally aware travelers can find a “green” cruise company if they really do their homework and a detailed read through the firm’s eco-policy is a must.
We are always so quick to believe there is something bad in everything – even the good things. And yes there are, but that doesn’t mean we are taking a risk or putting our lives in the hands of untrustworthy people and companies when we travel. The next time you hear about secrets of the travel industry, please examine them carefully and think how they really affect you – there is usually a solution to ensure you need not let it concern you. Have any unsavory secrets ever stopped you from traveling?
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