Strict, Secret Rules That Airline Employees Have to Follow

Rules are a part of work life. They can be annoying, but it’s important to follow them so that chaos can be avoided. An orderly workplace is a happy workplace. However, sometimes the rules can be a bit wacky. This is especially true when it comes to airline rules. Members of the flight crew are required to follow some pretty weird guidelines. We have the details on some strange rules and shocking airline secrets.

Here are some of the strict, secret rules airline employees have to follow.

The pilot and co-pilot can’t eat the same meal

Airline Lunch served

They each get a different meal in case of food poisoning. | Aureliy/iStock/Getty Images

The pilot and co-pilot are not allowed to eat the same meal. There’s a very good reason for this. They are advised against consuming the same meal so that if the food is contaminated (such as through food poisoning), one of them can take over and fly the plane.

Captain Han Hee-seong told CNN Travel the pilot usually gets the first-class meal and the co-pilot gets the business-class meal. Although this is not an official order by the Federal Aviation Administration, most airlines have rules about this.

Next: Pilots have to be picky about this.

Only certain reading material is permitted

delta airlines jet

Delta’s flight crew is only allowed to read flight-related material. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As a passenger, you can read just about anything you want. You can sit back and relax with the latest novel or catch up on the latest news with a newspaper. However, if you’re a pilot and you happen to have some downtime, there are certain materials you’re not allowed to read. Delta, for example, doesn’t allow pilots to read anything unrelated to flying the airplane, according to CNN Travel.

Next: This is off the menu.

Pilots are encouraged to not eat shellfish

An appetizer plate of tiger shrimp

No shrimp for the pilot. | MSPhotographic/iStock/Getty Images

Have you ever looked at a shellfish dish and had reservations about its freshness? Well, when you’re a pilot, you’re not in the best position to just take a guess. You have to be sure the food you’re consuming is safe. Otherwise, you might not be able to fly due to a bad stomach. Another way food-borne illnesses are introduced is through seafood. This is why pilots are encouraged not to eat shellfish or any kind of raw fish.

Next: Lunchtime is a lonely time.

4. Pilots are encouraged to eat at different times

Pilots Sitting in the Cockpit

You can’t eat lunch with your co-pilot. | Digital Vision/iStock/Getty Images

Not many people like to eat alone. If you’re like some office workers, you might have a lunch buddy or a group of people you usually eat with during your lunch breaks. However, if you’re a pilot, don’t expect your lunch partner to be your co-pilot. This generally isn’t allowed. Pilots are also encouraged to space out the times they eat. A gap of at least 30 minutes is advised.

Next: This was a lifesaver.

 A time when eating different meals saved lives

Japan Airlines Boeing 777 in flight

A Japan Airlines flight almost had a terrible outcome. | Kristian110/iStock/Getty Images

These secret rules airline employees have to follow might not seem like a big deal to you, but they’re in place to protect passengers. For example, back in 1975, 196 passengers and one flight attendant on a Japan Airlines flight from Tokyo to Paris came down with severe food poisoning after consuming bacteria-laden omelets. The ham in the omelets was contaminated with the Staphylococci bacteria. Roughly 142 passengers had to be hospitalized.

Next: This is what happened next.

6. Luck was on their side

two pilots flying a plane

The one who ate steak was able to land the plane. | MatusDuda/iStock/Getty Images

Eating different meals proved to be a lifesaver. Luckily, the pilots didn’t eat the pork. Instead, they had steak and were able to land the plane. The cook was suspected to be the source of the outbreak because of lesions on his fingers. (Sadly, he committed suicide soon after the event.) This is why it’s recommended that crew members eat different meals prepared by different cooks.

Next: Flight crew are required to have a minimum amount of this.

Flight crew must have minimum rest periods

Pilot in cockpit

They need their sleep. | Image Source/iStock/Getty Images

It can be dangerous to work while you’re tired. This is especially true if you work in a job that directly affects the safety of others. That’s why flight crew are required to have minimum rest periods.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires a 10-hour minimum rest period before a pilot goes on duty. This is a two-hour increase compared to the old rules. The updated rule also requires pilots have eight hours of uninterrupted sleep within the 10-hour rest period.

Next: This could have been a disaster.

The time when both pilots fell asleep while a plane was in motion

Pilot in cockpit

That’s pretty terrifying. | Matus Duda/iStock/Getty Images

Back in 2013, the unthinkable happened. A commercial airplane heading to the United Kingdom was on autopilot when both pilots fell asleep, according to the Daily Mail. The pilot and co-pilot agreed to take turns napping, but one of them awoke to discover the other pilot had been asleep at the same time. It was revealed the pilots slept for only five hours each over the previous two nights.

Next: This rule sounds exhausting.

Flight attendants must wear different uniforms on the ground and during flights

Thai Airways flight attendants in traditional thai dresses

On Thai Airways, flight attendants change from suits to traditional dresses. | Thai Airways via Facebook

Thai Airways has a uniform change policy, according to the Confessions of a Trolley Dolley website. When on the flight, female flight attendants on international routes are required to change from purple suits (for use outside the cabin) into traditional Thai dresses before passengers board. They are then required to change back into their purple suits before the plane lands. Cabin crew members who are not of Thai decent aren’t allowed to wear the traditional Thai dress. Male flight attendants also have suit jackets that are different from those worn on the ground.

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