Less Oxygen In-flight


I found some interesting search phrases in the blog stat today. This was one of them:

“Why we feel less oxygen in flight”

So here is the answer: the average cruising height of commercial aircrafts is around 11 000 m (36 000 ft). As you might know, air pressure is decreasing as we rise above. So imagine the aircraft as a perfectly closed box. It was closed under earth circumstances and it begins to take off. It rises up to 11 000 m, where the air is so rare and the air pressure is so low, that the much higher internal pressure simply explodes the aircraft. Therefore engineers solved this problem the following way. Air pressure inside the cabin can be controlled. When the plane starts to rise, they start to decrease air pressure until the plane reaches 2 000 m, which is the equivalent of a middle size mountain, so it will have no harm to human health. At that point they simply stop decreasing air pressure and they keep it during the whole flight.

The effect you will feel is:

– you will always feel sleepy – which is good when stressed

– all objects containing air that were closed under earth circumstances will increase their cubic content, so for example when you open a yogurt or a cream for your coffe, always do it in a way that you keep it away from yourself, otherwise it will land on your clothes.

– your stomach is such an object, too. So no matter what you eat, drink, what pills you will take, you will suffer from gas. This can be bad on a long haul flight and trust me, there are always some people who have no idea about toilets.

– you get drunk much easier. 1 drink in the air equals with 2 or 3 on the ground. This is in connection with your blood’s oxygen content.

There is one more effect I wanted to talk about. When the aicrafts descends, your ears might hurt. This is because while decreasing altitude air pressure raises again and it presses your eardrums. Again as I mentioned earlier, cabin pressure can be controlled by the captain. So when you see the whole plane suffering from ear problems, you should tell about it to the flight attendants. Although I must admit I once asked the stewardess on a Malev flight to tell the captain to turn on the pressure controller, she started to laugh and told me there was no such thing. So when I explained her I am also a Malev employee and by chance I happen to know it exists, she finally went to the captain to tell him about the problem.

I hope this will help everyone interested in such questions.

By Szafi 
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2 Responses to “Less Oxygen In-flight”


  1. 1 David January 15, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Thank you for the information. I have found it very useful.
    Kind Regards
    David


  1. 1 7 tips to stay healthy on long flights « Expatriate Health News, Insurance News and Health Tipps Trackback on April 22, 2011 at 10:12 pm

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