Airplane travel, it’s no secret, brings with it unique conditions that can require a little bit (and sometimes a little more) adjustment on the part of passengers. With that in mind, here are a few pointers and travel tips that can help both new and veteran flyers improve their inflight experience.
- During flights, cabin pressure can change to the on-ground equivalent of 1,500 to 2,500 metres (4,900 to 6,500 feet) above sea level. With the lower barometric pressure, the partial pressure of oxygen is also reduced. This can in turn cause intestinal gases to expand, producing discomfort in some people, which you can help guard against by avoiding heavy foods the day before flying.
- During landing and takeoff, pressure adjustments occur, during which some people may experience a feeling of clogging in the ears. To prevent this, you can equalise the pressure in your middle ears by pinching your nostrils and blowing gently without letting the air out (blowing your nose with a tissue or handkerchief, or chewing gum will also work).
- Within the cabin, humidity is lower than normal, usually ranging between 10 and 20 percent. This can result in a slight degree of dryness in the skin, respiratory passages, and eyes. You can alleviate this by avoiding coffee and alcohol the day before flying, as these have dehydrating effects.
- During the flight it’s also a good idea to drink a lot of water or fruit juice, and it may also be helpful to apply skin lotion and lip balm.
- Jet lag causes daytime tiredness and sleepiness due to the displacement of our “internal clock” which marks sleep and wakefulness cycles. There is at present little that can be done to counteract this.
- If you’re planning to be in your destination for any significant length of time, try to adjust as rapidly as possible to the new time schedule. Otherwise, it is best to try to stay on your time zone of origin, with a difference of no more than four hours.
- Occasional midair turbulence can have various causes, and is rarely a cause for concern. In most cases the crew will detect it ahead of time and advise passengers of the need to be seated and fasten seatbelts.
- There is also a phenomenon known as “clear-air turbulence”, which is undetectable and can be sudden and brusque. This is one reason why it’s recommended that passengers keep their seatbelts fastened throughout the flight.
- For more on turbulence and what causes it, click here.
- Only alcoholic beverages served by the cabin crew are permitted inflight, and it is highly recommended to not overindulge, as this can lead to dehydration and discomfort.