To ensure a safe and healthy flight, there are a number of things you can do, prior and during your flight to reduce the risk of accidents, illness and stress.
Things to do Prior to the Flight
Avoid any last minute anxiety attacks stressful journeys as a result of delays. Check roads are clear en route to the airport and that trains/coaches are running on time. Accommodate large walking distances at airports, crowded foyers and the fact that you need to check into international departures at least two hours prior to flight departure time. Save your arms and legs, by using one of the many free luggage trolleys dotted about the airport. If you are struggling ask for assistance from the airport staff.
Keep your mind active when waiting to board the flight by reading a book or magazine, this will combat nervous energy. Before getting on board the flight, go for a quick brisk walk to de-stress, reinvigorate your body and get the blood pumping around your body which can help reduce the risk of DVT. Avoid dehydration by bringing plenty of water with you. Drink it regularly before and during the flight. Intensive moisturizing cream is useful to prevent dry skin.
Stay Healthy: Things to do During the Flight
Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks during the flight as they will lead to dehydration and tiredness. Avoid eating a heavy meal during and before the flight as this can lead to an upset stomach given your relative immobility during the journey. Try to consume light snacks like a fresh salad instead. Keep moving throughout the flight, get up and walk about for 5 –10 minutes every hour. Stretch regularly in your seat and avoid sitting with crossed legs.
Tense and relax you leg muscles and place them on the foot rest as often as possible. Jiggle your legs in a seat position, and try doing a peddling motion – anything to keep your legs moving throughout the flight. Immobility can lead to DVT. Try pressing the balls of you feet hard down against the floor or foot-rest, as this can also help increase the blood flow in your legs, and therein reduce blood clotting which leads to DVT. Wear elastic in-flight socks which can prevent DVT.
When taking off and landing, try sucking sweets or swallowing. This will help equalize the pressure in your sinuses and prevent ear and sinus pain. Always carry all medication as hand luggage and have to hand in the case of an emergency. It is a good idea to carry a document outlining any allergies or special medical conditions on your person, in the event of an emergency. Remember, not everyone reads English, so if say you are flying from Mexico to Argentina, it is worth getting a translated version in Spanish.
Although very rare, British Airways estimate that one in 20,000 travelers experience a serious health problem whilst flying.
Minor Medical Problems
Many travellers are prone to a number of minor medical problems when flying, the majority of these are a product of the change in air pressure within the flight cabin. It is easy to forget, given the ease of travel today, that the most basic of flights essentially flings your body around the globe at both high speed and altitude into a different time zone.
It’s no surprise then that occasionally your body undergoes minor forms of discomfort. Although these are far from life-threatening, they can upset the start or end of your trip. We have detailed the most common minor medical problems associated with flying below.
When at altitude within the aircraft, cabin pressure in the body’s cavities expands slightly. This commonly occurs in the ears and sinuses, which may lead to slight ear ache. If you suffer from tooth decay, then small cavities may exist with the teeth which can result in severe pain. To relieve this pain, try taking paracetamol before and during the flight as a pain killer.
Air quality within aircraft cabins can be poor as the air conditioning frequently ‘recycles’ the air inside the cabin. If filters are not entirely effective, bacteria can spread as people cough and sneeze within the cabin – leaving passengers with minor colds and coughs.
A common problem of all flights is dehydration, as the air is not always properly humidified throughout the cabin. Travelers may suffer from the drying of the mucus of the mouth and nose, which normally act as a protective barrier to bacteria and viruses. To prevent dehydration, try drinking water as regularly as possible throughout the flight, don’t rely on getting enough water on the flight, and carry on a large bottle of water for yourself Dry skin is a further side effect of this dehydration, flying with a good moisturizer reapplied regularly to reinvigorate your skin a good idea, so that you arrive looking refreshed, rather than drained.
Extended periods of immobility can lead to swollen feet, aching joints and muscles and stomach pain from indigestion. The best remedy to these problems, is simply to keep moving throughout the flight, get up and walk around the cabin as regularly and as often as possible.
Flying whilst Pregnant
Pregnant women need not be restricted from flying. Most airline permit pregnant women to fly until the end of the 35th week of pregnancy, whereupon expectant mothers are strictly advised not to fly. Exact stipulations from airline to airline vary, and it is well worth contacting airlines in advance of flying to confirm their regulations. Some airlines, may request a medical certificate specifying the expectant date of delivery.
Tips for Pregnant Flyers
- Pregnant women should also be aware that flying carries a greater health risk to the baby and mother than the average passenger.
- The risk of DVT is greatly accentuated and DVT preventative in-flight socks should be worn.
- Background cosmic radiation levels are also higher at altitude, which can be harmful to the fetus. Expectant mothers are, therefore, recommended to avoid flying during the first three months of pregnancy if possible.
- Pregnancy, represents on of the most valid times to splash out on a business or first class ticket, especially if you are making a long haul flight. Leg rests encourage better circulation, and greater leg room will provide greater comfort, then the more cramped economy class.
- Seat belts should be worn low around the pelvis.
- Avoiding immobility for the duration of the flight is paramount for expectant mothers, as the viscosity of their blood tends to increase. Try walking around the plane at regular intervals.
- Consume plenty of water throughout the flight and avoid the consumption of heavy foods which, through prolonged immobility, can lead to stomach cramps and pain.
- Do not take sleeping tablets to circumvent jet lag, instead try to realign your sleeping patterns.
Flying With Kids
Flying with children introduces a new dimension to travel. Patience levels are short, so ensuring a smooth trip is difficult. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the rigors of flying and especial care and planning should be carried out to ensure a healthy trip.
Tips for Flying With Kids
- Contact your airline in advance to see what provision they offer for small children, i.e. sky cots, baby food, toddler meals, children’s entertainment – cartoons, goody bags etc. Ask whether you can reserve seats in advance, so that you can guarantee that you are all flying together as a family.
- Bring plenty of snacks for children, in case they do not like the in-flight meals. Always carry plenty of toys and games to prevent children from becoming bored and upset.
- Allow plenty of time to do everything, allocate sufficient time to navigate the airport with children. Families are usually permitted to board the plan first.
- To avoid accentuating tiredness, try and fly at reasonable day time hours, so that their daily schedule isn’t disrupted too much. Though tests show that young children are least affected by jet lag in a comparison study to adults.
If you have any helpful tips we forgot to include be sure to let us know by submitting an inquiry through our contact page.