Boeing 747-8
You\'re best off taking your own pre-packaged food and antiseptic wipes with you, if you\'re flying anywhere Reuters

Not everything is as it seems in the aviation industry, at least according to one ex-employee, who has written a damning article about some of the less savoury practices employed by most airlines. From in-flight hygiene issues to safety and even sex, Alison Hope has lifted the lid on all sorts of shenanigans the powers that be would rather you didn't see.

Her first warning is also her most serious: whatever you do, don't drink coffee, tea or unbottled water on board. Why? "The water sourced for in-flight hot beverages comes from tanks that are hard to clean and have a higher likelihood of bacteria and other contaminants."

She also advises against eating food prepared in the air; it is best to stick to stuff that is pre-prepared and heated. She says: "LSG Sky Chefs, one of the largest contractors providing meals to airlines, frequently gets slapped with health violations, and the conditions under which it prepares food are often less than savory."

That said, this may apply more to domestic American flights as, she says, international carriers like Emirates and Singapore "are known for their excellent food".

Don't touch the tray!

Passengers should also think twice about lowering the tray on the back of the seat in front of them – especially to eat on, but also for laptops or drinks – because they can often be covered with sick or faeces. Babies' nappies are often be changed on these trays, airsick customers do not always get it all in the bag and not every airline is diligent in cleaning up afterwards.

"Next time you fly, bring antibacterial wipes for the seat-back tray before you touch it, let alone eat off of it."

If that wasn't enough to panic frequent fliers, Hope also claims that very few planes ever get into the air without at least something wrong with them. There's no question, she says, that safety is ever jeopardised, as preflight checks catch serious problems. But just as a car owner might put off an oil change, certain issues are often left to be fixed when the plane's next maintenance is scheduled.

She also goes into some of the more dramatic things that can happen in the air. People "tend to do crazy things" on aeroplanes, she says, including having sex, masturbating, or drinking themselves sick at 6am.

More people than you might expect also die on planes, especially older people with heart conditions. If someone passes away and it's noticed, flights can often be diverted to the nearest city. Sometimes, though, "people slip away so quietly that no one notices until they don't get up from their seats upon landing".