Cabin Air Quality

Tips for the Traveler

Motion

Most travelers are not bothered by the cabin's vibration while the aircraft is in flight. In some people, however, turbulence can cause motion sickness. If you are one of those people, your doctor can suggest a medicine to help relieve the problem. Because motion sickness is often caused by a conflict between the body's sense of vision and its sense of balance, you might be less prone to motion sickness if you have a window seat and can focus on the horizon during turbulence.

Cabin Altitude

The percentage of oxygen in cabin air remains virtually unchanged from ground through all flight conditions, but as altitude increases, the partial pressure of oxygen decreases. The altitude for a typical transatlantic flight is 35,000 to 39,000 feet above sea level. Inside the cabin, the pressurized altitude is equivalent to 5,400 to 7,000 feet above sea level. (Denver, Colorado, U.S.A., is 5,280 feet above sea level, the center of La Paz, Bolivia, is 11,811 feet, and St. Moritz, Switzerland is 5,978 feet.)

Research by the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that these cabin altitudes are safe for healthy individuals, and because pressure changes in aircraft cabins are very gradual, most travelers do not suffer adverse effects. If you experience discomfort, you can usually relieve it by swallowing or yawning. During climb and especially during descent portions of flight, chew gum or suck on a hard candy. Babies can be given a bottle.

However, if you suffer from an obstructive pulmonary disease, an upper respiratory or sinus infection, or certain cardiovascular conditions, there could be some risk at these cabin altitudes. Ask your doctor for advice.

Jet Lag

As the aircraft changes time zones, your biological clock becomes disturbed. This "jet lag" can cause fatigue, sleepiness, and loss of appetite.

For each time zone you cross, it takes your body about one day to adjust to the new day-night cycle. However, evidence shows you are likely to recover more quickly after westbound flights compared to eastbound f lights. You can minimize the impact of jet lag by getting a good night 's rest before your f light. If you will be at your destination for less than 48 hours, remain on your "home" schedule. For a longer visit, change to the local schedule as soon as possible.

Immobility

Airlines offer a variety of seating arrangements. Passengers can choose more spacious seats, or less expensive, but more restrictive seats.

You can avoid problems associated with long periods of immobility by exercising while seated or by getting out of your seat from time to time and walking down the aisle. Seated exercises can include ankle circles, feet pumping, knee lifts, shoulder rolls, knee-to-chest movements, forward flex, neck rolls, and overhead stretches. The exercises usually can be performed without disturbing nearby passengers. It is good to start stretching before standing to promote good circulation.

Noise

The level of cabin noise has been reduced dramatically since the first jets flew. Today's aircraft cabin includes sound-absorbent seats, cabin walls and partitions. Buffers and seats are designed and placed to minimize noise. Boeing continues to work closely with airlines to lower noise levels inside cabins. Boeing also has a world-class test facility for developing new products and designs that will reduce cabin noise even more.

Any noise can add to stress, so you may choose to wear earplugs, especially if you are anxious or are not feeling well. Consideration for fellow travelers also helps to reduce disturbing noise. If you use headphones, be sure that the volume is not loud enough to harm your ears or disturb your seatmates.

Low Humidity

During flight, the relative humidity in the cabin is similar to a dry summer climate or to being indoors in the wintertime. Be advised that caffeine and alcoholic beverages actually contribute to dehydration. You may need to remove your contact lenses if they become irritated in the dry air and you can use moisturizers to refresh your hands and face. Dry air can aggravate allergies or asthma, so take the same precautions as if you were in any similar climate.

Be advised that caffeine and alcoholic beverages actually contribute to dehydration. You may need to remove your contact lenses if they become irritated in the dry air and you can use moisturizers to refresh your hands and face. Dry air can aggravate allergies or asthma, so take the same precautions as if you were in any similar climate.

Air Quality

The air in the cabin is a continuously flowing combination of air from outside the cabin and highly filtered recirculated air. Scientific studies of cabin air quality generally show that contaminant levels remain below levels that are considered safe and do not increase with time during cruise.Air Flow diagram

The highly filtered, recirculated air together with the clean outside air supplied during flight reduce contaminant levels in the cabin. The HEPA filtration technology is capable of removing essentially all particulate matter from the recirculated air to provide clean supply air. Each minute, the cabin ventilation system supplies about 190 times more oxygen for each person than can be consumed.

Ozone is present in the upper atmosphere as a result of ultraviolet radiation converting oxygent to ozone. Ozone may be encountered at the flight altitude of airplanes. Ozone converters are recommended for airplanes on flight routes that may encounter ozone, e.g. polar routes or high latitude routes.

Illness

Essentially no microorganism can pass through the high efficiency filters in the air recirculation system on today's jets. The cabin air is a mix that is one-half outside air and one-half filtered recirculated air. This normally produces 14 to 20 cubic feet of air per person each minute, depending on airplane type. The air supplied to the cabin in cruise is essentially sterile and particle-free.

However, whenever groups of people are together, there is the potential for diseases to spread. Spread of disease in an enclosed environment can be influenced by: proximity, ventilation, time of exposure, individual sensitivity, and state of health of the other occupants, etc. It is always good practice to wash your hands and minimize touching your eyes, nose and mouth.