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Five secrets you never knew about flying, revealed by an ex-flight attendant

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We've already seen life through the eyes of a flight attendant on Instagram and heard tales of sex, fights and mid-air surgery from a Virgin Atlantic air stewardess.

Now, a former International air stewardess and reservations agent has shared 11 candid secrets about flying that could shock even the most seasoned traveller.

Kelly Payne, from South Carolina, revealed the secrets in a blog post for Huffington Post. Here, stylist.co.uk pick our five favourites, from how to get a first class upgrade to little-known information about those on-board drinks.


Don't drink the coffee

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A mug of coffee can be an understandably tempting prospect on a flight, particularly if you are travelling long distance or need to get in the mindframe for work. However, Payne is adamant that airline coffee is to be avoided.

"Don’t ever drink the coffee on the plane. Just don’t," she says. "It isn’t made with bottled water, and let’s just say that the airplane’s potable water isn’t very desirable."

And if you need further convincing: "The valves for cleaning out the lavatory waste and filling the clean water are very close to each other and sometimes serviced by the same guy...at the same time."


You can get cheap upgrades to first class

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Champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget? We hear you. If you fancy flying first class on the cheap, Payne has some advice.

"If first class isn’t sold out, and there aren’t many premium frequent fliers to upgrade on that flight, most airlines discount the upgrade to first class."

Her advice is simple: "Call your airline’s customer service number within 24 hrs of the flight departing to check."


Your flight is probably overbooked

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Have you ever bagged a last minute ticket to travel by air and then been astounded to see every other seat on the plane is taken? 

According to Payne, this is because airlines deliberately overbook flights, on the assumption that some people will always miss them anyway.

"There are so many people that just don’t make it to the airport on time because they are lost, overslept, or changed their minds. Then factor in all of the people who miss the flight because of a delayed connecting flight," Payne explains.

"Airlines have to over book flights because if they didn’t they wouldn’t make any money and would be flying half empty planes."


Your drink might not have any alcohol in it

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We've all heard stories about boozy Brits abroad drinking too much alcohol on flights - and even the A-listers aren't immune. After all, who can forget Kate Moss' famed 'basic bitch' insult to an EasyJet pilot, after she was removed from the flight for swigging from vodka hidden in her hand luggage?

But air stewards have a secret way of slowing down those who they feel are guzzling their way through their liquor too quickly.

On these occasions, Payne reveals, "There is a good chance that your rum and coke is just coke, with a little bit of rum along the rim of the glass to make it taste like the liquor is in there."


What to do if your flight is cancelled or delayed

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Long plane delays or cancelled journeys can be frustrating at the best of times, and it's easy to follow the sea of people in the airport terminal heading to queue at the gate or ticket counter to sort your next flight.

However, Payne has an insider tip that could save you hours of queuing: simply call customer services instead.

"Don't wait in the long line with everyone at the gate or ticket counter. Call the customer service number to the airline. We get you rebooked too. 

"While you are talking to us, we can literally see that the next plane only has 10 seats left and see the number dropping as other agents snatch those seats up for whoever is on the phone with them. Seconds matter. If you want out quickly, skip the explanations or the yelling about being cancelled."

 

Want more travel tips? Why not attend ‘Basic or The Bellagio? When to save and when to spend on holiday’. Discover the tricks of the trade from industry specialists. Find out more at: live.stylist.co.uk 

Stylist Live brings everything you love about Stylist magazine to life across three days of experts, interviews, comedy, food, beauty and fashion exclusives.
10 -12 November, Olympia London.

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