How to Enjoy Your Plane Flight
Be sure it leaves you feeling right
The ads are so inviting -- smiling attendants, comfortable seats, the "friendly skies." But flying can create a host of creature discomforts as well. By changing some of your in-flight habits, you can have a trip that leaves you ready to enjoy your destination.
Uncomfortable pressure in the ears is a common annoyance during flight. Once airborne, cabin pressure typically equals air pressure at about 6,000 to 8,000 feet. As the atmosphere becomes thinner, the air inside your ears pushes outward on your eardrum. On the way up, yawning is usually enough to equalize the pressure. On the way down, however, air pressure increases again and pushes your eardrum inward. When this happens, try the Valsalva maneuver--breathe in, hold your nose, close your mouth and gently push your breath up toward the back of your nose and throat.
Hours spent in a cramped, upright chair can decrease circulation in your feet and legs and can lead to the development of dangerous blood clots or DVT (deep vein thrombosis). To promote good circulation, get out of your seat at least once an hour and walk the aisle. If that's impossible, try a simple isometric exercise in your seat. Hook your feet beneath the seat in front of you and lift one foot against the seat bottom as if you're trying to straighten your leg. Hold for a few seconds and repeat with the other foot. Then try both at the same time.
We think of deserts as the driest places we could ever visit, but an airplane cabin at 35,000 feet is far more parched than a desert. The reason? All the fresh air in the cabin during flight is collected by devices near the engines and pumped in. Air at such high altitudes contains very little moisture.
Your body will try to compensate for the low humidity, but without a source of moisture it will become dehydrated--and you'll start to feel run-down, irritable, even light-headed. Here are some suggestions to avoid dehydration:
Drink as much water as you can, before, during and after the flight.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, salts and sugars on the flight. All act as diuretics, robbing your body of much-needed moisture.
Moisturize your skin during the flight with travel-size skin creams and lip balm. Take a hot bath or shower as soon as you can after you land.
Colds and flu
On most commercial flights, as much as 50 percent of the air you breathe is recycled. That means the carbon dioxide you exhale passes through filters, mixes with fresh air from the outside and is vented back into the cabin. Some experts say this creates fertile ground for the spread of colds or flu, while others disagree.
For those who are airborne, it probably pays to play it safe. Washing your hands frequently, keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth can reduce your chances of catching a virus.