Tag Archives: Travel

TRAVEL SAFETY Plane too hot? Time for DOT to regulate, flight attendants say

Travel safely with SERAPH

One of the scariest examples of an overheated airliner came in June 2017, when a woman and her beet-red, 4-month-old baby needed ice bags and then an ambulance because of the heat of a flight in Denver. The child revived with treatment.

But flight attendants’ unions assembled dozens of other anecdotes of planes either too hot or too cold for comfort. With those, the group is urging the Transportation Department to begin regulating the temperature aboard airliners. The union’s anecdotes included stories of flight attendants and passengers occasionally passing out or becoming ill aboard hot planes.

“Today there are no standards that exist for aircraft temperatures, for the passengers or the crews that are working those flights,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents 50,000 workers at 20 airlines, told a news conference Wednesday at Reagan National Airport in Washington. “This is an issue of safety, health and security. If it’s too hot, people can become dizzy, unaware, suffer from heat stroke. If it’s too cold, they can experience cold stress or even hypothermia.”

The department received the petition and is considering it.

The industry group Airlines for America, which represents most of the largest carriers, said regulations are unnecessary because flight attendants work with pilots to adjust each cabin’s temperature on a case-by-case basis with the maintenance teams at each airline.

“The safety and well-being of our passengers and crew is the industry’s No. 1 priority,” said Alison McAfee, a spokeswoman for the airline group. “U.S. airlines work hard to maintain a level of comfort passengers expect on each and every flight, including the temperature of the cabin.”

The only temperature regulation now requires the cabin temperature to be within 5 degrees of the cockpit. But it doesn’t set minimums or maximums.

The department can potentially fine an airline for lengthy tarmac delays of three hours for domestic flights and four hours for international flights. But planes can heat up faster than that. A Federal Aviation Administration advisory recommends letting passengers off planes if there is no ventilation for 30 minutes.

The industry consensus from unions, airlines, manufacturers and airports is that an acceptable temperature aboard a plane is 65 to 75 degrees, and up to 85 degrees if all entertainment units are functioning, according to Nelson. Strategies to keep a plane cool on the ground include closing the window shades and filtering in cooler air from the jetway.

But problems can arise with the auxiliary power units aboard planes on the ground and the ground-based air conditioning that airlines and airports can provide.

To gather data, unions are distributing 60,000 thermometers during August for flight attendants to report uncomfortable temperatures that will be shared with the department. The unions also have created an app called 2Hot2Cold for passengers to report extreme temperatures, and collected thousands of reports already.

“Extreme cabin temperature while boarding and working on an aircraft inhibit a flight attendant’s No. 1 responsibility: the safety and security of passengers,” said Lyn Montgomery, president of Transport Workers Union Local 556, which represents 20,000 flight attendants at Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Allegiant Air.

Southwest flight attendants can already report warm cabin temperatures via their iPads, with the date, city, flight number, time of day and locations on the plane that were warmest. The airline’s technical operations team then reviews the information, and possibly checks the plane.

Southwest noted that it serves 99 U.S. destinations with varying climates and temperatures, pilots and flight attendants are authorized to adjust cabin temperature through the auxiliary power unit aboard the plane or air-conditioning units at airports.

The unions’ petition submitted July 2 gathered anonymous reports from crew members that are submitted to NASA and to the unions. Those anonymous reports included:

— In June 2018, a flight attendant reported temperature above 88 degrees in a plane stuck on the ground for more than two hours with the door open: “I felt as though we were all being held hostage.”

— In July 2017, a passenger collapsed in the galley of a hot plane and he was taken away by ambulance. Seven more people sought medical care at the gate.

— In August 2014, a flight attendant on an MD-80-type plane reported “sweating profusely” and passing out in a jump seat because an auxiliary power unit wasn’t working to cool the plane: “I was hot, dizzy, confused and then blacked out.”

— In July 2014, the captain of a CRJ-900 reported the temperature in the cockpit rarely went below 90 degrees during three flights in one day.

— In September 2013, one flight attendant felt ill and another began vomiting because of “very hot” temperatures during three flights in one day.

Greg Regan, secretary-treasurer of the Transportation Trades Department of AFL-CIO, said extreme temperatures can divert flights and force passengers to change planes, which causes flight disruptions to ripple across the country.

“Incidents where an infant is hospitalized or a passenger or a crew member becomes seriously ill should spur government action to ensure that these events never happen again,” Regan said.

, USA TODAY

#TravelAlert Bed Bugs Have Just Been Found On A Business Class Flight & You Should Be Afraid

Travel Dale Yeager Blog

Here’s some scary news that should make your next trip a very uncomfortable one.

Bed bugs were recently found on the business class seats of an Air India flight from Newark Liberty International Airport in the U.S to India.

Reports from Fox5NY joined outraged business class passengers who took to Twitter to express their anger and disgust at the airline. The passengers revealed that their seats were infested with bed bugs, causing them to have “bites all over their body” once they landed.

Whilst some may argue that it’s an isolated case since they’d probably never travel to India, there’s still the concern of how the bed bugs got there in the first place and whether or not they’re in the airport (likely).

Another major question raised is how often these plane seats get cleaned.

Pravin Tonsekar@pat_tons

@airindiain @sureshpprabhu @narendramodi_in Suresh Prabhuji – just arrived from New York on Air India 144 business class with family . All our seats infested with bed bugs . Sir , have heard of bed bugs on trains but shocked to experience on our maharaja and that too business

6:25 AM – Jul 17, 2018

And the aftermath…

Saumya Shetty@saumshetty

What an #airindia #businessclass would do to you? AI still has to get in touch with me inspite if my repeated attempts to get in touch with them. @airindiain @NewYorkTimes11 @cnni

9:12 AM – Jul 20, 2018

One passenger even raised a good point after his children were fed to the blood sucking critters.

Rohan@roscrow

@airindiain my wife and three kids flex business class AI 144 from Newark to mumbai; now they have bed bug bites all over their body; is this is what we paid $10,000 for???

1:50 PM – Jul 19, 2018 · Montville, NJ

Kashmira Tonsekar who was a passenger on the flight told The Hindustan Times that they had alerted the crew of the situation who then sprayed a repellant.

“After a while, more bugs started coming out from that and other seats.”

Air India have since come out to address the issue via a statement saying that it is “deeply concerned with a few reports of ‘bugs’ causing inconvenience to its esteemed passengers”.

“The issue has been viewed seriously and every possible step is being taken to closely inspect and further strengthen our system at every level to ensure that such isolated incidents of passenger discomfiture do not affect our consistent performance.”

Does this bode well with your faith in business class? Let us know.

by 

TRAVEL ALERT: SHARKS New Interactive Map Will Show You Where They Are

Travel Alert Sharks

If Shark Week has you wondering whether you should stay out of the water, a shark map from Oceana may be just what you need.

The international ocean conservation and advocacy organization created the new interactive map with animated shark tracks and commercial fishing activity along the East Coast.

Oceana worked with the company Beneath the Waves, the University of Miami Rosentiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and others to build the map.

The new map shows the movements of 45 tagged sharks overlaid with commercial fishing activity.

PREVENTING SHARK ATTACKS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

“As people celebrate Shark Week, it’s important to remember that sharks are under threat,” Beth Lowell, senior campaign director at Oceana, said in a news release.

The shark map (Oceana)

“Using interactive tools like Global Fishing Watch, paired with tagged wildlife data, we can learn more about how commercial fishing impacts these animals. Oceana hopes to expand this initiative by collaborating with other researchers who are interested in sharing their marine wildlife tagging data,” Lowell continued, according to the News & Observer.

Two children were bitten by sharks off Long Island last week: one victim, a 12-year old girl, was in waist-deep water when it happened; the other, a 13-year-old boy, was boogie boarding at the time.

DO BLUE SHARKS ATTACK HUMANS?

Those shark attacks were the first reported since 1931 in the New York City metropolitan area.

The Oceana map tracks a range of sharks, including blue sharks, tiger sharks and shortfin mako sharks.

“Many species of large sharks remain highly vulnerable throughout our oceans, and the integration provided here highlights the magnitude of threats they face,” project leader Austin Gallagher, chief scientist and CEO of Beneath the Waves, said in the Oceana release.

By 

TRAVEL ALERT: Hate Crimes At All-Time High In UK

Antisemitism UK

Travelers who are Jewish should take precautions when in the United Kingdom.

FACT: 1,382 hate incidents and 34% rise in violent assaults against Jewish people in 2017 logged [a report by by Community Security Trust].

Anti-Semitic hate incidents have reached a record level in the UK, with the Jewish community targeted at a rate of nearly four times a day last year, figures indicate.

There was no obvious single cause behind the trend, the trust said. “Often increases in anti-Semitic incidents have been attributable to reactions to specific trigger events that cause identifiable, short-term, spikes in incident levels. However, this was not the case in 2017. Instead, it appears that the factors that led to a general, sustained, high level of anti-Semitic incidents in 2016 continued throughout much of 2017.”

The report pointed to a rise in all forms of hate crime following the EU referendum as well as publicity surrounding alleged antisemitism in the Labour party. These factors may have caused higher levels of incidents as well as encouraged more reporting of anti-Semitic incidents from victims and witnesses in the Jewish community, the trust said.

The trust’s figures showed a 34% increase in the number of violent anti-Semitic assaults, from 108 in 2016 to 145 in 2017. The most common single type of incident in 2017 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at Jewish people in public.

TRAVEL ALERT SWEDEN: 1 In 8 Swedish Women Will Be Raped

Rape Sweden

Sweden’s government has ordered the country’s National Council on Crime Prevention (Brå) to look into why the number of reported rapes in the country has increased.

The agency has the task of finding out whether the increase related to specific types of sexual offences, certain situations, or certain groups of perpetrators, though exactly how it measures these factors will be up to Brå.

The number of sexual offences reported to police in Sweden has risen steadily over recent decades.

However, it is unlikely that this is the full explanation for the rise, since the past four years have also seen an overall increase in exposure to sexual offences, according to the Swedish Crime Survey, also carried out by Brå. This report is based on survey answers rather than police reports, and aims to give a more complete picture of the victimization rate.

As The Local reported at the time, the 2017 survey published in November showed that the proportion of the population who had been victims of what is classed as ‘crime against an individual’ – assault, threats, mugging, fraud, harassment, or sexual assault – was at its highest level since records began in 2006.

The most significant rise was reported in instances of sexual offences, with the victimization rate for such crimes going from 0.8 to 2.4 percent between 2012 and 2016. That equates to around 181,000 people, an all-time high. Among women, the rate is even higher, at 4.1 percent.

In this survey, sexual offences covered a wide range of crimes from exhibitionism to assault.

At the time, Åsa Strid from Brå told The Local: “These results raise a number of questions about why so many more people are reporting that they have experienced sexual offences.”

The government has now called on Brå to estimate “to the greatest extent possible” how the victimization rate has developed.

This will include analysis of whether certain types of sexual crime are behind the rise, and whether the rise relates to a particular group of perpetrators.

It is not clear whether this would include an investigation of the ethnicity of perpetrators of sexual crimes, something which Sweden’s Moderate Party has called for.

by Catherine Edwards

How to Avoid Bringing Home Bed Bugs

Travel Dale Yeager Blog

Bed bugs are bed bad. People’s entire lives have been overturned by these (increasingly common) blood-sucking, itch-inducing pests. Thankfully, they’re not disease vectors, but I would rather not share my home with a roommate who wants to eat me, thank you very much.

Scientists have noticed an expansion in bed bug cases across the world, in no small part due to increased international travel. But one team wanted to know how the bed bugs managed to hitch a ride, and how to prevent the spread. It turns out that part of the answer lies with the dirty laundry inside your travel bag.

“There are a lot of good studies out there focused on trying to understand how bed bugs are attracted to humans and how they get around apartment blocks, but no one has really talked about how they get into the house in the first place,” study author William Hentley from the University of Sheffield in the UK told Gizmodo. “Stopping people from bringing bed bugs home can be a big step in preventing them spreading throughout the world.”

Scientists already know that human odor attracts bed bugs, though not which chemicals in the odor specifically. But for the newest study, researchers prepared a mock bedroom with laundry bags containing clean and dirty clothes—in other words, there were no humans in the room. The critters were “twice as likely to aggregate on bags containing soiled clothes compared to bags containing clean clothes,” according to the paper published today in the journal Scientific Reports. Contrary to the researchers’ hypothesis, the amount of carbon dioxide in the room did not affect their results—the CO2 source would represent a human, since some bugs like mosquitos are specifically attracted to the carbon dioxide you exhale.

These results were enough to convince the researchers that bed bugs could travel throughout the world by hitching a ride in luggage containing dirty clothes.

As a caveat, this was an experimental room and not real life, said both Hentley and Toby Fountain, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Uppsala in Sweden who was not involved in the study. But still, said Fountain, the authors “demonstrate a striking pattern that bags containing clothes with human odor were more frequently used as refuges than those without. This result emphases the importance of making sure luggage and other belongings are made as inaccessible to bed bugs as possible when staying in increased risk places, for example by making sure bags are fully closed and secured and kept away from the bed.” Hentley agreed with this advice.

So there you have it. When traveling to possibly bed bug-contaminated locations—like, say, that sketchy-seeming hotel—keep your luggage on metal racks (bed bugs don’t like crawling on metal, said Hentley) or put your whole suitcase in a plastic bag to avoid picking up the horrors that are bed bugs.

TRAVEL ALERT: How Flying Messes With Your Mind

Travel Dale Yeager Blog

Travelling by plane has become an everyday activity – but our bodies and brains are still affected by it.

With the tiny screen bouncing around in front of us, tinny sound quality and frequent interruptions, watching a movie during a flight is hardly an immersive experience.

Yet, frequent fliers may have found themselves – or at least witnessed others – welling up at the most innocuous of films while on a long airline journey. Even lighthearted comedies such as Bee MovieBridesmaids and The Simpsons can trigger the water works in passengers who would normally remain dry-eyed if watching these on the ground.

Physicist and television presenter Brian Cox and musician Ed Sheeran have both admitted they can get a bit over-emotional when watching movies on aircraft. A new survey by Gatwick Airport in London found 15% of men and 6% of women said they were more likely to cry when watching a film on a flight than they would if seeing it at home.

One major airline has gone as far as issuing “emotional health warnings” before inflight entertainment that might upset its customers.

There are many theories about why flying might leave passengers more vulnerable to crying – sadness at leaving loved ones, excitement about the trip ahead, homesickness. But there is also some evidence that flying itself may also be responsible.

An emerging body of research is suggesting that soaring 35,000ft (10km) above the ground inside a sealed metal tube can do strange things to our minds, altering our mood, changing how our senses work and even making us itch more.

“There hasn’t been much research done on this in the past as for healthy people these do not pose much of a problem,” says Jochen Hinkelbein, president of the German Society of Aerospace Medicine and assistant medical director for emergency medicine at the University of Cologne. “But as air travel has become cheaper and more popular, older and less fit people are travelling by air. This is leading to more interest in the field.”

Hinkelbein is one of a handful of researchers who are now examining how the conditions we experience on flights can affect the human body and mind.

The humidity is lower than in some of the world’s driest deserts

There can be no doubt that aircraft cabins are peculiar places for humans to be. They are a weird environment where the air pressure is similar to that atop an 8,000ft-high (2.4km) mountain. The humidity is lower than in some of the world’s driest deserts while the air pumped into the cabin is cooled as low as 10°C (50F) to whisk away the excess heat generated by all the bodies and electronics onboard.

The reduced air pressure on airline flights can reduce the amount of oxygen in passengers’ blood between 6 and 25%, a drop that in hospital would lead many doctors to administer supplementary oxygen. For healthy passengers, this shouldn’t pose many issues, although in the elderly and people with breathing difficulties, the impact can be higher.

There are some studies, however, that show even relatively mild levels of hypoxia (deficiency in oxygen) can alter our ability to think clearly. At oxygen levels equivalent to altitudes above 12,000ft (3.6km), healthy adults can start to show measurable changes in their memory, their ability to perform calculations and make decisions. This is why the aviation regulations insist that pilots must wear supplementary oxygen if the cabin air pressure is greater than 12,500ft.

Strangely, the air pressure at altitudes of over 7,000ft (2.1km) has been found to actually increase reaction times – great news for those who like to play computer games during their flight.

But there is some research that shows there can also be small decreases in cognitive performance and reasoning at oxygen levels found at 8,000ft (2.4km) – the same as those found in airline cabins. For most of us, this is unlikely to cloud our thinking much though.

 Flying also plays havoc with our other senses too

“A healthy person like a pilot or passenger should not have cognitive problems at this altitude,” says Hinkelbein. “When you have unfit people, or someone with the flu or pre-existing problems, then hypoxia can decrease oxygen saturation further so cognitive deficits become noticeable.

But Hinkelbein says the mild hypoxia we experience during flights can have other, more easily recognised effects on our brains – it makes us tired. Studies in hypobaric chambers and on non-acclimatised military personnel arriving in mountainous regions have shown short-term exposure to altitudes of at least 10,000ft (3km) can increase fatigue, but the effects could start at lower altitudes in some people.

“Whenever I am sitting in a plane after take-off, I become tired and find it easy to fall asleep,” explains Hinkelbein. “This is not the lack of oxygen causing me to lose conciousness, but the hypoxia is a contributing factor.”

Should you manage to keep your eyes open for long enough to see the crew dim the cabin, however, then you may experience another effect of the lower air pressure. Human night vision can deteriorate by 5-10% at altitudes of just 5,000ft (1.5km). This is because the photoreceptor cells in the retina needed to see in the dark are extremely oxygen-hungry and can struggle to get all they need at a high altitude, causing them to work less effectively.

Flying also plays havoc with our other senses too. The combination of low air pressure and humidity can reduce the sensitivity of our taste buds to salt and sweet by up to 30%.A study commissioned by airline Lufthansa also showed that the savoury flavours in tomato juice taste better during a flight.

The dry air can also rob us of much of our sense of smell, leaving food tasting bland. It is why many airlines add extra seasoning to the food they serve to make it palatable during a flight. It is perhaps fortunate that our sense of smell is diminished during flights, however, as the change in air pressure can also lead to passengers breaking wind moreoften.

And if the prospect of breathing in the bodily gases of your fellow passengers doesn’t make you feel awkward enough, it seems reductions in air pressure can also make passengers feel less comfortable. A study in 2007 showed that after about three hours at the altitudes found in airline cabins, people start to complain about feeling uncomfortable.

Combine this with the low humidity and it is little wonder we find it hard to sit still for long periods on flights. A study by Austrian researchers has shown that a long-distance flight can dry out our skin by up to 37%, and may lead to increased itchiness.

For those who are already nervous fliers, there is perhaps some more bad news.

Low levels of air pressure and humidity can also amplify the effects of alcohol and the hangover it produces the next day.

For those who are already nervous fliers, there is perhaps some more bad news.

Anxiety levels can increase with hypoxia,” explains Valerie Martindale, president of the Aerospace Medical Association at King’s College London. Anxiety is not the only aspect of mood that can be affected by flying. A number of studies has shown spending time at altitude can increase negative emotions like tension, make people less friendlydecrease their energy levels and affect their ability to deal with stress.

“We have shown that some aspects of mood can be altered by exposure to cabin pressures equivalent to altitudes of 6,000-8000ft,” says Stephen Legg, professor of ergonomics at Massey Univeristy in New Zealand, who is studying the impact of mild hypoxia on people. This may go some way towards explaining why passengers often find themselves crying at films more mid-flight, but most effects in scientific studies seem to only occur at altitudes above those that commercial airline cabins are set to. Recently Legg also showed the mild dehydration that might be expected on a flight can also influence mood.

“We know very little about the effect of exposure to multiple mild stressors on complex cognition and mood,” he adds. “But we do know that there is a general ‘fatigue’ associated with long distance air travel, so I guess it is probably the combined effects of these concurrent multiple mild exposures that give rise to ‘flight fatigue’.

Then there is also research showing altitude can also make people feel happier.

But Stephen Groening, a professor of cinema and media at the University of Washington, believes this happiness may also manifest itself as tears. The boredom on a flight and relief given by an inflight movie, combined with the privacy of the small screen and headphones used to watch one, could lead to tears of joy, not sadness, he says.

“The configuration of inflight entertainment apparatus produce an affect of intimacy that might lead to heightened emotional responses,” says Groening. “Crying on airplanes actually consists of tears of relief, not tears of sadness.”

But Hinkelbein has uncovered another strange change in the human body that could also be messing the way our bodies normally work. A new study he conducted with colleagues at the University of Cologne, but yet to be published, has shown even 30 minutes in similar conditions to those experienced on a commercial airliner can alter the balance of molecules associated with the immune system in the blood of volunteers. It suggests the lower air pressure may cause a change in the way our immune systems work.

 If flights do alter our immune systems it could not only leave us more vulnerable to picking up infections, but it could alter our mood too

“People used to think they got a cold or flu when travelling due to changes in the climate,” says Hinkelbein. “But it could be because their immune response changes while on a flight. It is something we need to research in more detail.”

If flights do alter our immune systems it could not only leave us more vulnerable to picking up infections, but it could alter our mood too. Increases in inflammation triggered by the immune system are thought to be linked to depression.

“A one off inflammatory challenge from a vaccine can produce a mood dip that resolves in about 48 hours,” says Ed Bullmore, head of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge and who studies how the immune system influences mood disorders. “It would be interesting if a 12-hour flight to the other side of the world caused something similar.”

By Richard Gray

 

UK Travel Alert: Terror advice video for holidaymakers shows hotel attack

UK terror-threat-levels

A video advising UK holidaymakers what to do in the event of a terror attack abroad has been released by police.

The four-minute film depicts a firearms attack unfolding at a hotel and uses the “run, hide, tell” safety message.

Thirty British tourists were among 38 people killed when a gunman attacked a Tunisian beach resort in June 2015.

Counter terrorism police said there is no specific intelligence Britons will be targeted this summer and the film is part of a general awareness campaign.

But Det Ch Supt Scott Wilson told the BBC it was “only right” to offer advice following the terror attacks in London and in Sousse, Tunisia.

“These people are not there to steal a mobile phone or steal your watch, they are there to kill you, you have to get yourself out of that danger zone,” Mr Wilson told the BBC.

“It’s very unlikely [that you will be caught up in a terror attack].

“It’s very much like the safety briefing you get on an aeroplane before it takes off – it’s very unlikely that plane is going to crash, but it’s very important you are given that knowledge of what you should and what you shouldn’t do.”

The video has been produced with the Foreign Office and travel association Abta.

Mr Wilson said 23,000 representatives from major UK holiday companies at resorts all over the world had been trained in what to do in the event of a terror attack as well as how to spot suspicious items and activity.

Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said: “While there is no specific information that British holidaymakers will be targeted this summer, it sets out some simple steps we can all take to minimise the impact of an attack if one does take place.”

The run, hide, tell message was first introduced by police in December 2015.

 Run

  • If there is a safe route run
  • Insist others go with you, but do not let their indecision slow you down
  • Leave belongings behind

Hide

  • If you cannot run, hide
  • Be aware of your exits
  • Find cover from gunfire
  • Try not to get trapped

Tell

  • Call the police when it is safe (112 for the EU)

Flight Attendants Share 13 Of Their Favorite Travel Hacks

Travel Help Dale Yeager Blog

For flight attendants, who often spend more than 80 hours in the air a month, traveling can become almost second nature.

So who better to turn to for travel tips and tricks than the people with extensive knowledge on the matter?

We asked flight attendants to share their best travel hacks with us and scoured the internet for more.

Here are 13 things that could help make your travel experiences easier and more enjoyable:

Get more attentive service from your flight attendants

“While most passengers tend to choose seats that are at the front of the aircraft so that they can disembark first and have a better chance of securing their preferred meal option, flight attendants know that if you’re sitting towards the back, you’ll receive the most attentive service.

“The reason is simple: We like to avoid responding to call bells from the front of the plane because answering one means potentially flaunting whatever item the passenger has requested to everyone else along the way. This can cause a problem since planes often don’t have enough extra vodka, pillows, earplugs, and toothbrushes, or the time on shorter flights to deviate from the service schedule.

“For passengers sitting near the back of the plane, however, it’s much easier to slip in that second mini bottle of wine.”

Iron your clothes faster

“Use your flat iron to touch up your clothes when you’re in a rush and there’s no time for the ironing board.”

— A flight attendant with 30 years’ experience 

Always sleep in clean sheets

“Don’t sleep on hotel sheets that don’t have creases from being folded; someone slept on them already.”

— A flight attendant with 19 years’ experience

Keep the hotel room dark

“Use the clips on the pants hangers in the hotel room to clip your curtains together so there is no light coming through.”

— A flight attendant with 15 years’ experience

Avoid doing damage to your hearing

“Avoid flying if you have a severe cold. It can damage your eardrums, and you may lose your hearing. It happened to me once — I couldn’t hear properly for a week, and it hurt like hell.”

Source: Quora

Avoid being seated near a baby

“While there’s no escaping (or blaming) the shrill of an upset child, you can lower your odds of sitting directly next to one by choosing a seat that’s located far from the partitions on board.

“These partitions, which go by the technical name ‘bulkheads,’ are the only places on an aircraft where a parent can safely secure a baby’s bassinet — and are, therefore, where most children under one year old will be situated.”

Source: Oyster

Fight jet lag

“What helps me sleep is having a bedtime ritual. Stop using electronics one hour before bedtime, have a cup of tea, and read a bit. Usually that does the trick, but if I can’t sleep after an hour I just get up, do something else, and then try again.”

Source: Quora

Pack lighter

“Before your trip, call your hotel and check to see if they have a washer/dryer available. If so, bring a couple detergent packs and dryer sheets in a Ziploc bag, and it eliminates two to four days’ worth of clothes, depending on your stay.”

— A flight attendant with one year of experience

Get through customs in a jiff

“Pay for Global Entry — it’s totally worth it.”

— An anonymous flight attendant

Save space in your suitcase

“My favorite travel hack is definitely the clothes-roll technique. I am often gone from home for several days, even up to three weeks, and I save space by rolling my clothes instead of folding them.”

— A flight attendant with one year of experience

Never miss out on free breakfast

“If you know you’re not going to be able to attend whatever complimentary meal they’re offering because you’re leaving before it starts or you know you’re not going to be up until after it’s over, check with the hotel to see if there’s some kind of snack or sack lunch they can provide before or ahead of time. Usually it’s just a piece of fruit, a bottle of water, and a thing of string cheese, but that’s saved my growling stomach on several occasions.”

— A flight attendant with one year of experience

Get a cheaper upgrade

“Some airlines do offer reduced-price upgrades the day of the flight — there’s sometimes even first-class flights available. So be in the boarding area good and early during boarding, because this is when you’ll hear the announcements for last-minute upgrade purchases you might be able to get. It’s not for every airline, but it does happen.”

— A flight attendant with three years of experience

Don’t miss out on the first-class upgrade if you qualify for it

“I think it’s great we don’t have to travel in suits and high heels anymore. You can be comfortable. But you can also be classy and comfortable. Check your air carrier’s rules — there are still dress codes sometimes in first class and, who knows, maybe, miracle of the day, you’ll get that cheap upgrade to first class. Be comfortable, but if you can avoid wearing your pajamas, that’s great.”

— A flight attendant with three years of experience

How to avoid an in-flight medical incident

Travel Dale Yeager Blog
Travel Dale Yeager Blog

In recent months we’ve seen news about a range of medical and health issues occurring aboard commercial airline flights. The baby born in the skies between Philadelphia and Orlando on Southwest Airlines. The airborne medical emergency and subsequent death of Carrie Fisher. And the ongoing saga of American Airlines’ new flight attendant uniforms, with up to 2,000 employees claiming they cause rashes, headaches and other health hazards when worn in pressurized cabins.

Because 39,000 feet is a terrible location for a serious or life-threatening medical event, regulators and airline organizations have sought improvements. But challenges remain: MedAire, a company offering medical and travel safety services, published a 2011 white paper noting annual numbers of such events keep steadily increasing, due in part to longer life expectancies. Neurological events are by far the most common.

Many passengers might be surprised to learn in-flight deaths due to medical causes occur more frequently than accident-related deaths, this despite MedAire’s estimate that medical professionals are onboard 50%-60% of commercial flights. The best solution — when possible — is to avoid the likelihood of such occurrences, by consulting with your doctor in advance of flying. Here are some of the conditions for which fliers should pay special attention.

Chronic conditions

After Carrie Fisher’s in-flight emergency, some health and travel blogs demanded domestic airlines carry defibrillators for heart patients. In fact, they do. In 2001 the FAA regulated all U.S. commercial aircraft weighing more than 7,500 pounds and having at least one flight attendant must carry automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and enhanced emergency medical kits (EMKs); this rule was later updated in 2006.

An FAA spokesperson confirmed these rules still apply for all U.S. domestic and international flights, with no exemptions in place. Regulations dictate this equipment should only be accessed by trained crewmembers, or other qualified and trained professionals. The FAA states: “It would be preferable for flight attendants to check the credentials of passengers holding themselves out as medical specialists.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) advises certain post-op patients should not fly, particularly after gastro-intestinal surgery; abdominal trauma; and certain facial, eye and brain operations.

Disabilities

For those who require constant medication or assistance in-flight, it’s important to learn about a specific airline’s policies, which are available on their sites. The U.S. Department of Transportation provides details about the Air Carrier Access Act online, including provisions explaining the rights of passengers needing assistance and/or using Portable Oxygen Concentrators, mobility aids and assistive devices. The Transportation Security Administration’s site also details policies on devices and medications.

Flying while pregnant

For many years, researchers have attempted to determine if flight attendants suffer higher-than-average miscarriage rates. In 2015 the Centers for Disease Control and other government agencies undertook a comprehensive analysis of 840 pregnancies among flight attendants and found chronic sleep disturbance is a key factor for pregnant women who fly during “normal sleep hours” and across time zones. Those who flew more than 15 hours during normal sleep hours in the first trimester were at increased risk for miscarriage.

The report also addressed pregnancy risks for women whose flights travel through solar particle events, an occurrence that may seem rare for even frequent fliers. Yet a 2001 report from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists noted: “For most air travelers, exposure to cosmic radiation are negligible. For pregnant aircrew members and other frequent flyers, this exposure may be higher.” For those worried about such risks, the Federal Aviation Administration offers an interactive tool that lets you estimate potential galactic radiation for a specific flight on a specific date.

Infants

When is it safe for newborns to fly? The answer: It depends, and in ALL cases you should consult your doctor first. In addition, airline policies vary, with some carriers requiring a physician’s letter during the first few weeks, so check the airline’s site.

MedAire recently issued guidelines for traveling with babies and noted: “The most common in-flight ailments for infants and children were gastrointestinal and respiratory related.” Parents and caregivers are advised to keep TSA-approved doses of “common medications” such as analgesics, antihistamines and anti-emetics in their carry-ons; ask if you’re unsure.

As for specific issues such as ear pain and infant pain relievers, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers a “Flying with Baby” page. KidsTravelDoc.com, created by pediatric travel expert Dr. Karl Neumann, likewise offers detailed advice on such issues. Also, it’s critical to remember what I’ve written about so frequently here: The SAFEST way for children under 2 to fly is in an approved child restraint.

Special risks for flight attendants

The AA uniform complaint is not the only acute health issue raised by flight attendants; in fact, labor unions such as the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA have detailed a range of hazards experienced by cabin staff.  These include aircraft air quality, contaminated water, disease transmission and many others. Some concerns I’ve written about here, such as deep vein thrombosis and the spraying of pesticides in cabins.

The question arises, if spending so much time in pressurized tubes at high altitudes affects the health of crewmembers, what effects are felt by passengers, particularly frequent fliers?

Who shouldn’t fly?

IATA, the industry’s global trade organization, offers health tips for passengers and advises that — in addition to newborn infants, some pregnant women and certain post-op patients — those who may not be safe for flying could include anyone with the following conditions:

  • contagious diseases
    • recent myocardial infarction or stroke
    • uncontrolled extreme hypertension
    • angina pectoris
    • certain severe chronic respiratory conditions
    • infections of the ear, nose or sinuses
    • recent psychiatric illness

As always, a medical profession should make the final determination — PRIOR TO BOOKING.

Bill McGee, Special for USA TODAY