Does Delta Pipe-In Rainsounds Midflight?

During the Delta airline flight I rode yesterday, I could swear that in the middle of it they started piping in the sound of a rainstorm. It sounded like one of those Amazon rain forest soundmakers, you know, the ones where it’s a piece of tree limb and you turn it upside down and the beads inside make a pleasant rain sound. Then again, I was sitting pretty far in the back, so maybe it was just the sound of the head emptying. Unfortunately I don’t suffer from synaesthesia and my auditory faculties don’t interfere with my olfactory ones.


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  1. MrGutts says:

    Well I wouldn’t put it past them to do something to waist more money.

    Hell the DNC and RNC pipe in clapping and cheering sounds for most of the events they can get away with. Why not Delta!

    Next someone will sue Delta for making them go to the bathroom to much on one flight. :)

    • Ghettopia says:


      If every plane already has a sound system, how much money is that *wasting*? A one-time $10-20 CD purchase could last a plane from now until CDs are obsolete, or even longer considering the technology airlines cling to.

    • MyPetFly says:


      Or “waste” more money, for that matter. Or “too” much.


      Not if they recorded the CDs themselves… or if it’s a royalty-free recording… of if it’s computer synthesized… or if it’s a guy sitting next a PA microphone with a rainmaker thingy. ; )

  2. wgrune says:

    Hey, if it drowns out the elderly woman next to me telling me in vain about her Precious Moments Figurines, ill take a fake rainstorm. I thought having headphones in was the universal “im-not-in-the-mood-to-talk” signal.

    • XTC46 says:


      I agree about the head phones. I never understood why people whould try to make casual conversation with me while im listening to my earphones. I can almost understand it if you have a question, but in most cases it make sme want to tell them to shut up.

  3. PsychicPsycho3 says:

    I would say it’s UNfortunate that you don’t have synaesthesia. If there’s a disorder I want, it’s that one.

  4. rickatnight11 says:

    It’s likely that someone nearby had their headphones up too high and had rain forest noise or similar background noise in thei music/movie. Who knows, though? Maybe Delta’s testing some lucid dreaming tapes!

  5. frankadelic says:

    I was just on a Delta flight this weekend (FL-NY) and didn’t hear any rain sounds. They did lose my luggage, though.

  6. dmolavi says:

    Yes, I’ve heard this on some Delta flights too, primarily between Atlanta and Philly.

  7. ppiddy says:

    Perhaps they’re using some sort of sound masking to cover up the sounds of the plane falling apart or babies crying.

  8. ElizabethD says:

    Maybe it was raining?


  9. admiral_stabbin says:

    That’s the sound jet fuel makes when it hits the tail at altitude and speed. Be thankful you were able to land and contribute this story. ;-)

    Seriously though…while an interesting idea…I hope it was just a coffee maker on the opposite end of the plane.

  10. philipbarrett says:

    Since the average passenger jet has cabin noise around 100 – 105 dbC (most of it broadband) it’d have to be a darn loud rainstorm to be heard at all.

    • Anonymous says:

      @philipbarrett: Are you completely sure about that? 100 -105 db would cause hearing damage in a longer flight. Even a Cessna wich has a 320CID engine screaming away a foot from me is barely 95 DB

      1998 Cessna Model 182 90dB
      1967 Cessna Model 206 93dB
      1977 Piper Turbo Lance 86dB
      1979 Beech A36TC 87dB

      And the Limits for Cessna bizjets:
      Ultra 79.5 dba
      Excel 78.5 dba
      CX 78.0 dba

      (different trim models)

      And the Airliners are estimated at 65db – 88 depending on where you sit and what portion of the flight you are in

    • RedwoodFlyer says:


      No…he’s not sure about that. IATA standards dictate a max of 95db at any point in the cabin at takeoff, and 77db at cruise. Nearly every Boeing and all Airbii meet that standard.

  11. nidolke says:

    Let’s put thoughts of rain and storms into the airline passengers’ heads. Let them think we might crash, then when we land they’ll be more grateful for it.

  12. xwildebeestx says:

    Man, the layoffs have hit the consumerist hard! Is this post outsourced from India, or China?

  13. alexburrito says:

    Perhaps it’s an attempt to soothe passengers and reduce air rage incidents? Next will be aromatherapy in the recycled air. I hope they don’t add little waterfalls; those make me need to pee. I prefer to stay out of airline restrooms!

  14. timx says:


    I fly Delta quite frequently and I *highly* doubt them doing this. Could be any number of things you heard from wind passing over fuselage to the auxiliary power unit or even background noise on an open mic.
    Hell, you can hardly make out the announcements in beautiful monaural sound in the overhead speakers on most flights.

    In an era where airlines are chipping away with added fees, devalued frequent flyer miles, and fuel surcharges – something like this offers no return on investment to them, so why do it?

    As for what you heard, maybe you were actually flying IN a rainstorm?

  15. sixseeds says:

    I seem to remember something like this on a Delta flight (can’t remember where; it was a few years ago). The TV screens were even showing some generic rainforest scene.

    They only did it before takeoff and after landing.

    • Anonymous says:

      @sixseeds: Yeah, they did that on my last flight too. I kept noticing some noise coming from somewhere but I couldn’t figure out where (I can’t remember if it was rain though) and I finally figured out it was somehow coming from the place where you would plug in your headphones. If you turn the volume all the way up without plugging in your headphones, you can actually sort of hear it coming from….somewhere in the arm rest area.

  16. eelmonger says:

    I think your consumerist senses were on overdrive Ben. I can’t come up with a good reason for them to do this, and I guess you couldn’t either, or you would have included it in the post.

    And as a fun fact: Those rainmakers (at least the good ones) are actually dried cactus where all of the thorns have been pounded into the hollow center, so it’s the thorns making that noise.

  17. crichton007 says:

    What I’ve noticed on my many Delta flight is that the older planes (the one with the old-school two-hole headphone connectors) that the volume can get turned up and the sound that comes out of the holes becomes ambient. I always find it annoying because I’ve never heard anything as appealing as rain forest sounds but the annoying chatter from the banal programming on the screens.

    • Haltingpoint says:

      @crichton007: That was my thought as well. If you cranked the volume up all the way but didn’t plug in headphones, it is very possible that the audio from this is what was heard.

      Maybe they had a “Soothing Sounds” channel or something, who knows. Or maybe Ben is just starting to hear things…ya never know!

  18. RedwoodFlyer says:

    Delta uses boarding music off and on…I remember last year being exceptionally horrid: They use the same playlist, in the same order. I usually pre-board because of my FF status at the time… I still cringe when I hear Glamorous by Fergie!

  19. VeryPlainJane says:

    I would rather listen to a rain sound track than US Airways’ non-stop inflight commercials.