Missing information cards, wet carpet near an exit and missing ashtrays – these are all seemingly simple issues with very real repercussions that can cause your plane to be delayed, a flight attendant has revealed.

A simple spill on a carpet near an exit area will hold up a plane because a wet carpet is exactly what flight crews will check for if a plane makes an emergency landing on water, writes flight attendant Sarah Steegar in News.com.au.

Finding any seepage around or under a plane’s door helps the crew to determine how the aircraft has landed if they’re unable to tell properly from the inside and work out if it’s safe to open a door or if this could potentially flood the cabin.

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Despite the fact that smoking is prohibited on airplanes there are “people who regularly insist on trying anyway,” Ms Steeger said, and this can cause a fire hazard. This is why there needs to be ashtrays available in the cabin lavatories as proper receptacles for when people put their cigarettes out, as “cigarette butts in the trash can be burned by paper towels!”

Another issue is when safety information cards or demo equipment goes missing. In the event of a planned emergency, where flight crews will have enough time “to prepare before an unexpected problem before landing,” events need to happen in a specific way and demo sets need to be on hand, Ms Steeger said.

Also, “frightened passengers can’t be expected to share emergency information cards as they desperately try to learn, in a sweaty panic, what they didn’t pay attention to or understand from the safety video,” she added, explaining that some passengers who don’t speak the language will need the graphics on the cards.

Finally, passengers who try to “sling and shove” oversized bags into the overhead bins on-board are the main culprits when it comes to broken cabin lights. The issue is that some cabin lights on planes contain mercury, making them potentially dangerous, so if an unhelpfully large bag causes one to be damaged it must been cleaned up and replaced before take-off. 

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