What Happens To Your Ears During A Flight?


Pressure and pain in your ears during a flight can be extremely annoying, even painful. And almost as unpleasant is having to wait another 12 hours, or longer, before being able to hear normally again. I’d like to give you some background information on this phenomenon, as well as some tips and tricks on how to prevent it, or minimise its effects.

How do our ears work?

Our ears enable us to hear sounds, which are actually vibrations in the air. These vibrations travel through the ear canal to a thin membrane called the eardrum, which also hermetically seals the ear canal from within. On the other side of the eardrum is a tube called the Eustachian tube, which runs from the inner ear to the back of our nose/throat, where it can vent to the air outside. This tube allows air to flow to or from the inner ear, depending on whether the pressure in the inner ear is higher or lower than ambient air pressure. An obvious precondition is that the Eustachian tube cannot be blocked! This can happen, for example, if it is obstructed by mucus or inflammation due to a cold, hay fever or perhaps a respiratory infection.


What happens in our ears when an aircraft climbs?

As the aircraft climbs the air pressure inside the cabin gradually decreases until it reaches the level at which it will remain for the rest of the flight (at cruising altitude). Because this air pressure will be lower than it was at ground level it means that some of the trapped air must be allowed to escape from the inner ear. If it doesn’t, the slightly higher pressure will cause the eardrum to bulge outwards. If all goes well, the overpressure air in the inner ear simply escapes via the Eustachian tube. It’s easier for this tube to exhaust air than to suck it in, which is why hardly anyone has problems with their ears when an aircraft is climbing.

What happens in our ears when an aircraft descends?

As the aircraft descends the air pressure inside the cabin will gradually increase, so the rising air pressure will push the eardrums inwards. To counter this, the air pressure on the other side of the eardrums, in the inner ear, must also increase. To enable this to happen air must be sucked in through the Eustachian tube.

What is happening when you have problems with your ears during a flight?

If you are suffering from a cold or hay fever, the mucous membrane in the Eustachian tube can become swollen and impede the flow of air through it. Consequently, when the aircraft is descending the air pressure behind the eardrum, in the inner ear, will remain too low and will not be able to counteract the increasing cabin air pressure that is pushing the eardrums inwards. Initially you will feel this as pressure and later as pain. Furthermore, because the eardrum will be under constant pressure, it will no longer be able to vibrate freely. So you won’t be able to hear properly either.


Tips and tricks to avoid ear problems

  • Swallowing and yawning opens the Eustachian tube so that air will be able to reach the inner ear during descent.
  • Even if you keep having problems long after the landing, it will still help when you keep swallowing.
  • There are a few other methods, such as blowing your nose, chewing gum, or drinking while pinching your nose closed. Whichever of these methods you find works best for you should be repeated a few times during the complete descent. We refer to all these methods as “coping”. Air is more likely to flow up the Eustachian tube if you swallow, yawn or chew.
  • Try this: breathe in, then gently breathe out with your mouth closed while pinching your nose (it’s known as the Valsalva manoeuvre). In this way, no air will be exhaled but you will be gently pushing air into the Eustachian tube. While doing this you may feel your ears go “pop” as air is pushed into the inner ear. This often solves the problem. Repeat the procedure every few minutes while landing – or whenever you feel any discomfort in your ears.
  • Do not sleep during descent (ask the steward or stewardess to wake you when the aircraft starts to descend). After all, you can only try these tips to equalise the pressure either side of your eardrums as long as you are you are awake!
  • If you have a cold, your ears are not completely blocked and you still want to fly you could try a decongestant nasal spray. One such spray, containing Xylomethalozine for example, is readily available at pharmacies. This can temporarily dry up mucus in the nose, thereby helping to open the Eustachian tube if it’s blocked by mucus.
  • To encourage them to swallow, give babies or small children a drink or pacifierduring descent.

What doesn’t necessary work

  • Sometimes you might hear other “never fail” remedies. Well, at the risk of disappointing anyone, the truth is that there is no medical evidence to support putting wet cloths over your ears, for example, or covering them with cups. It may comfort you, so it won’t do any harm. But at the end of the day it will not solve the problem either. The same can be said for using eardrops or cleaning your ears. They may have a soothing effect, but they will do nothing for the pain.
  • At some airports you can buy earplugs that regulate changes in air pressure. These earplugs only slow the rate of air pressure change on the eardrum. And although not evidence based, from a medical point of view, if you find that they help, use them.

Scuba diving and flying

After scuba diving you should wait for about 12-24 hours before flying. This time frame depends on the depth to which you dived and the number of dives you made. In this case it has to do with having to clear the nitrogen from your body after diving, to avoid decompression sickness or Caisson disease. This is not directly related to the pressure issues of the ear. Although flying after diving can also make your ears malfunction (not work properly) due to the same mechanism. In a short period of time you extensively pressurize the eardrum.


Fit to fly with earache?

If you have a severe cold, an earache, a high temperature or a combination of these, you might wonder whether it’s indeed wise to fly. The Eustachian tube could be blocked (due to mucus), for example, which could cause you more serious ear problems during the flight. In such a case, and if you really want to make your journey, my advice would be to have your ears checked by a medical doctor before departure. You may risk a barotrauma, damage to the eardrum due to pressure changes, or even a rupture of the eardrum (although rare). You might experience pain, hearing loss, dizziness or tinnitus (buzzing in the ears). Airport Medical Services at Schiphol has equipment that can measure the pressure-movements of the eardrum. They can also advise you on whether or not to fly. Barotrauma will heal quicker than a ruptured eardrum, which can take between a couple of weeks to several months.

Still having ear problems after your flight?

  • If the measures above fail to prevent ear pain, don’t despair. The pain may be quite acute, but it usually subsides fairly quickly. Take painkillers such as paracetamol until it goes. Fluid or mucus can sometimes accumulate in the inner ear for a few days after a flight, which may dull or dampen your hearing. This will happen if the Eustachian tube is still blocked, and it is more likely to occur if you had a cold before flying. To clear it, try one of the measures outlined above.

Credits for this article go to: https://blog.klm.com/what-happens-to-your-ears-during-a-flight/

Why we consume more than 3,000 calories while flying


Professor Charles Spence, Head of Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford University and author of “Gastrophysics, The New Science of Eating,” speaks about why we consume so many more calories when travelling by plane.

He said: “It seems like Brits will consume something like 3,400 calories from setting off to arriving at their destination.

“Why do we consume so much? One thing might be the stress that many of us feel while in the air. When we’re stressed we tend to eat more.”

He also said that the sound from plane engines can affect our attitude towards food. Noisy sounds can suppress our ability to taste sweet and salty, which means 15-20% more sugar and salt is added to food to give back the flavours which are lost, resulting in those extra calories being eaten.

10 Secrets From Flight Attendants That Will Make You Rethink Getting On A Plane


10 Secrets From Flight Attendants That Will Make You Rethink Getting On A Plane

In spite of what your anxiety might be telling you (or that primal fight-or-flight instinct that overrides logic), flying is the safest, fastest and most efficient mode of transportation out there. It’s also full of quirks that you might not know about. Here are some of those secrets, as told by flight attendants.

1. First, let’s start by giving you some basic statistics about flying. From 2002-2007, over 196,000 people died in car accidents (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). On the other hand, 107 people died from airplane crashes. To put that into perspective, the odds of you getting involved in a plane accident are 1 in 7 million. If the numbers are just not adding up, here are some things more likely to kill you: cardiovascular diseases (1 in 2), smoking (1 in 600), and lightning strikes (1 in 1.9 million). Flight attendants are aware that some of their passengers are riddled with an aggressive fear of flying. So don’t worry about looking silly because you look nervous! If anything, they can help you relax by offering tips and aids to tune out your surroundings or ride out the worst of the anxiety (for example, wear your seatbelt at all times to avoid bumping your head if there’s any turbulence).

2. This might seem a bit extreme, but if you tire yourself out before a long trip you’ll be more likely to fall asleep on the plane. The best way to do this is to stay up late and do physical work prior to the flight. This is good for people who really need to sleep (to avoid jet lag, for example)

3. If you’re stuck in the multiple connections hell and want a refresher, here’s a tip: most major international airports have showers for passengers travelling this way.Cleaning up and changing your clothes can really change your mood (as well as the way you look, smell and feel). From now on make sure you carry a spare set of clothes when you travel.

4. Now onto the more stressful flight attendant tips. Cabin pressurization is necessary when flying at high altitudes, and there are a lot of mechanics at work to make sure you’re comfortable. When cabin depressurization occurs (which is rarely) you should put your mask right away. You only have seconds before the symptoms of oxygen loss kick in.

5. If you’ve gone through a little bit of a shaky path you’ve probably felt your levels of fear go from 0 to 100 in less than a second. Maybe it’s the anxiety of not knowing how bad it’ll get, but know this: turbulence isn’t bad until bag compartments open and and people bump their heads on the ceiling.

6. If one of the engines catches fire, it will extinguish itself. That’s the beauty of modern mechanics. On top of that, if the fire gets too out of control to extinguish, the engine has a mechanism to detach it from the rest of the plane so it doesn’t affect the wing.

7. Having said that, planes aren’t perfect. Thousands of flights take place every day, all around the world. Like any vehicle that gets used constantly, most airplanes have something broken (either on the inside or the outside). But it’s never big enough to be a safety concern, so don’t worry too much about it.

8. If you’re a germaphobe, you probably want to look away and live in ignorant bliss.Airplane floors are super filthy. Sure, they get vacuumed every now and then, but you can assume that the place you’re sitting is covered in bathroom germs and some trace of bodily fluids. So keep your shoes on, carry some disinfectant wipes and antibacterial liquid.

9. This might make you angry, so take a deep breath and go to a very happy place. If you’re ever transporting something fragile and thought, “I’ll label this with that fragile tape and that way the bag handlers will be careful!” I have bad news. Those bags don’t get any special treatment because the bag handlers aren’t required to do that.

10. Again, my apologies to all the germaphobes reading this. Sometimes when it’s a short flight, planes don’t get a lot of time for a good cleanup (more like an hour). An hour is nearly not enough time to even do a quick cleanup of the whole plane. So again, just pay an extra amount of attention to your surroundings.




20 funny things that flight attendants do each day….

1. When my 3.30am alarm goes off…


2. 5am start…


3. Driving to work… I’m like…


4. When the sign on computers don’t work…


5. When I sign on for reserve, and there’s a duty assigned… I’m like…


6. New roster is out… and see I have a weekend off… I’m like…


7. Walking down the aisle and avoiding eye contact with passengers… I’m like…


8. 10 minutes until my airport standby ends, Scheduling calls… I’m like…


9. Passenger still has their laptop on for landing…


10. When passengers open the galley curtains… I’m like…


11. Working with a senior crew member I’ve never worked with before… I’m like…


12. Bloated in uniform… I’m like…


13. When I get home…


14. Just before signing on for my 6am duty, I’m on a mission to buy a tripple double shot skinny latte… A passenger stops me to ask for directions… I’m like…


15. Airport is closed… All aircraft grounded… Major thunderstorms in the area. Passenger wants to know when their flight will depart… I’m like…


16. Balancing during turbulence… I’m like…


17. When scheduling call to advise I have 3 minutes to get to the gate… I’m like…


18. Attempting to “refreshen” the lavatory… We’re like…


19. When a passenger tugs at my uniform… I’m like…


20. When enough is enough…


The 15 highest-paying jobs for people who love to travel


Indeed, the number one job site in the UK, looked at their listings to put together a list of the 15 highest-paying jobs for people with itchy feet.The company looked at the salary of each job as well as the amount of time per year spent travelling in the role, based on figures specified i n job adverts and on reviews people had written about various roles.Here are the 15 highest-paying jobs for travel-seekers, ranked in ascending order by salary.


  1. Stagehand — £8.22 per hour.Stagehands set up props and scenery during plays and move things around when scenes change, a role that involves travelling to different theatres around the world throughout their entire contract. Average time spent travelling per year:6 month contract.


  1. Ski Instructor — £15,798 per year. How much travelling you do as a ski instructor depends on how much of the year you work as one, and where you go. It’s generally a seasonal job, but there are some glaciers where you can ski all year round, such as The Hintertux in Austria.Average time spent travelling per year: Based on the season.


  1. Flight Attendant — £20,419 per year. Flight attendants, understandably, travel up to 100% of the time. Some airlines have more opportunity for employees to travel long distances than others. Average time spent travelling per year:Up to 100%.


  1. Travel Agent — £24,333 per year. Travel agents wander the globe to find the best locations, hotels, rental cars, and tours for their clients. Average time spent travelling per year: 30-40%.


  1. Recruiter — £30,351 per year.People who work in recruitment travel to meet clients and make connections in companies all over the world. Average time spent travelling per year:At least 20%.


  1. Pharmaceutical Sales Rep — £32,062 per year. Sales reps in the pharmaceutical industry spend up to half their time travelling to various hospitals, nursing homes, and doctors’ offices. Average time spent travelling per year:At least 50%.


  1. Travel Photographer — £32,470 per year. As the name suggests, people who take photographs of their travels are travelling more or less 100% of the time. It makes sense that the more you travel, the better you are at this kind of role. Average time spent travelling per year:Up to 100%.


  1. Travel Writer — £32,791 per year. The same goes for travel writers who spend all of their time going around the world sampling the food, culture, and lifestyle of different countries. Average time spent travelling per year: Up to 100%.


  1. Auditor — £34,062 per year. Auditors prepare and examine financial records, and may need to travel to ensure all their clients are paying their taxes on time. Average time spent travelling per year:Up to 15%.


  1. Global Events Manager — £34,519 per year. People who plan events have to spend at least half of their time travelling around finding the right venues in various countries across the world. They also have to make catering and entertainment contacts. Average time spent travelling per year: Up to 50%. 


  1. Airline Pilot — £34,575 per year. Like flight attendants, pilots are always travelling — because their job is to take people from country to country. Average time spent travelling per year:Up to 100%.


  1. Retail Buyer — £39,175 per year. Retail buyers travel to attend trade shows, meet wholesalers, and visit stores. Average time spent travelling per year: At least 10%.


  1. Travel Nurse — £42,886 per year. A travel nurse is hired to locations for a limited amount of time, usually 13 weeks. They move around the country wherever they are needed. Average time spent travelling per year:13 week contract.


  1. Freelance Designer — £45,754 per year Freelance designers travel around the world to wherever their clients are — and can be paid a lot of money for their talents.  Average time spent travelling per year: Up to 100%. 


  1. Management Consultant — £55,236 per year. Perhaps a surprising winner, management consultants have the highest-paying job that allows them to travel. They visit organisations and companies around the world wherever they are needed to help solve issues, maximise growth, and improve overall business performance. Average time spent travelling per year: Up to 80%.



6 ways to make your next flight less stressful



1. Make a day of it.

Modern air travel is so much faster relative to what most people used to endure — long train, boat, or car rides — that we’ve come to believe that we’ll be whisked from point A to point B with no deleterious effects.

This is foolish. Just because your flight is two hours doesn’t mean that’s all the time you’ll be committing to the journey. You could get stuck in traffic on the way to the airport. You could be delayed at check-in or security. The flight itself could leave late. You could get bumped! You could miss a connection. And on and on.

Add to that the stress you’ll endure if you fly coach, with a cramped seat, and you’re confronting an ordeal.

My practice is to write off the travel day. Even if my flight is just a couple of hours, I plan to spend the day on the move and unless there’s a business commitment mixed in, I devote myself to the journey.

I get to the airport with hours to spare, have a bite to eat and something to drink, do a bit of reading, board the plane, take my flight, and then I don’t rush at the other end. In effect, I impose leisure on something that for most people isn’t leisurely.

All bets are off, of course, if I’m flying with my family. But when I’m, solo, I make it all about me. I didn’t adhere to this rule on my most recent trip, mainly because the schedule wasn’t completely under my control, and as a result I wound up a bit cranky by the end of my return flight.

2. Use the lounges.

Some travelers have airport lounge access thanks to their ticket or relationship with the airline or lounge through a credit card. But if you don’t, I think it’s worth it to pay for daily access. In fact, I routinely now do this.

I usually spend around $50, and if you figure that I’m already saving a fair amount of money by flying coach and would have to feed myself in any case, I think it evens out and actually can be a money saving expenditure.

Even if it isn’t, it’s much more relaxing to hang out in the lounge than it is in the terminal or by the gate. I’ll often spend a few hours doing this, becoming a sort of temporary citizen of the airport.

3. Stay overnight at an airport hotel.

This often isn’t as expensive as you might think. On a recent layover in Lisbon, I decided to spend the night at a nice boutique hotel across the street from the airport, and I spend around $100.

Again, you’re taking care of yourself with this move, reducing the stress of getting the airport on time. For early flights, I think this a total no-brainer. You wake up, maybe enjoy a free breakfast, and you either stroll over to the airport or jump on a shuttle.

This works our best if the hotel is in the airport itself. Or nearby. I stuck by this rule in Lisbon this year and in Paris last year and the results were great. I arrived for my flights with plenty of time to spare.

4. Don’t fly coach.

Admittedly, this isn’t an option for many folks. But if you fly infrequently, I say it’s worth it to spend the extra money and enjoy a business- or even first-class experience when you take to the skies.

And remember, you can often use a credit card or frequent flyer/miles program to upgrade from coach. Or you can simply pay some extra money at check-in. Or just ask for an upgrade.

I deviated from this rule recently and wound up with a fairly modest coach seat on an overnight flight. I usually don’t have trouble sleeping under these circumstances, but this time I did.

5. Sleep.

Again, not an option for everybody. But if you are somebody who can sleep on a plane, and you favor coach, you can essentially pass the agonizing episode while blissfully snoozing.

I’ve managed to do this on several occasions quite literally from takeoff to landing.

The trick, of course, is that you need to schedule the flights so you’re tired enough to zonk out. For this reason, overnight flights are a good choice.

6. Read a book.

In-flight entertainment is great — a vast improvement over the single-movie showings of my youth. And in truth, I often use my flights to catch up on films I’ve missed in the theater.

But I’ve also noticed that all that visual stimulation is fairly unrelaxing and can contribute to setting me more on edge after I’m already stressed by the flying experience itself.

So now I always make sure I have a book (printed or in a Kindle format) to get lost in. This is always a more calming experience for me. On my last trip, I went with a printed book and between some snoozes, it was ideal.

5 Special Types Of Airline Pilots Every Flight Attendant Will Fly With

In reality pilots around the world aren’t always like the ones we see in the movies. They are normal people just as they are weird with their distinct personalities. There are the strict ones as well as the funny and relaxed ones.

We found this great post on the types of airline pilots every flight attendant is bound to fly with. Read it in the spirit of humor. For our dear pilots, no offense is intended.

Five Types Of Airline Pilots You’re Bound To Fly With

The Slob

This guy’s beer belly is hanging over his baggy uniform pants, whose only saving grace is the tattered belt. His shirt is wrinkled, half untucked, and graced with a coffee stain reminiscent of Day 2 of his 4-day trip. He may or may not be wearing white socks under his scuffed black regulation shoes. He is always eating, usually donuts or snacked nabbed from the First Class snack basket without asking. Standard briefing: “Coffee, 10 creams, 15 sugars.” Flight bag: Falling apart, decorated with Harley Davidson stickers.


The Military Type

This flight deck officer stands up straight even when “at ease,” maintains a stern countenance and is only comfortable when he’s barking out orders. If he’s not a captain, he will upgrade at the first chance, often eschewing a quality line in the right seat so he can sit in the left. If his company mandates the wearing of hats, you can bet his is low and tight on his head, per regulations exactly. He’s almost certainly carrying a firearm, ready at a moment’s notice to defend his aircraft. You could cut through glass with the crease in his uniform shirt. Rumor has it there’s a reward offered if you ever catch him smiling. I flew with one once who complained about having to wear a uniform instead of his old military flight suit. Standard briefing: A 15-minute detailed monologue encompassing every aspect of standard operating procedures outlined by the company. Flight bag: Covered with USAF and union stickers. If he flies a widebody jet, he may also display equipment stickers (B767, B747).


The Dude

This mellow guy is one of the favorite few. This pilot thinks nothing of reporting for duty sans hat, no matter how crazy this makes the Military Type. He’s less concerned with following rules than he is about making work fun. He is vigilant about what matters (safety) and chill regarding everything else. This type is in the industry for one thing: the time off, which he typically spends chasing the good surf waves around the globe. One of my “Dude” pilot friends takes off the entire months of February and July to ski, in Tahoe in the winter and Chile in the summer. Standard briefing: “We’re in this together. Just let me know what I can do for you.” Flight bag: Stickers from everywhere cool that he’s been, from the Maldives to Nepal.


The Disappearer

This pilot shuts himself in the cockpit at first opportunity. Not one for small talk, this guy has no time nor inclination for acknowledging fellow crew. One could hypothesize he’s been burned by a flight attendant before. You don’t hear a peep from him. He never asks for anything, ever, even a bathroom break on a transcon. After the flight, he’s off the airplane and halfway up the jetway before the first passenger has a chance to deplane. Standard briefing: “Everything standard.” Flight bag: No one has ever seen his flight bag, except perhaps as a blur up the jetway.


The Nerd

Long before smart phones, there were smart watches. They were huge and could calculate fractions and show you the weather at your destination. All the cool pilots had them. At least, so the Nerd types thought. The ones who really do use pocket protectors. They’re the ones on their layovers splitting the crew’s bill down to the penny and then stiffing the server. Need a quote from section 121.24.2 of the FARS? This is your go-to guy. If he’s having an off day and can’t recall the exact verbiage, no worries! He’s undoubtedly got an app on his phone to pull it up. Standard briefing: Nobody’s ever been able to get through the whole thing without glazing over. Flight bag: Standard issue, unadorned. Full of protractors and spare duct tape.


Which of the five types of airline pilots did you fly with today?

Air traffic control ‘needs massive modernisation’


The national air traffic service (Nats) has said a “massive” programme of modernisation is needed to keep up with demand for air travel.

Nats Prestwick expects to handle more than 250,000 flights during the peak holiday season this year – an increase of 15,000 on last year.

The company has announced a £600m investment in a new computer system.

But it says government support is needed to improve the network of “ageing” flightpaths.

Paul Peers, head of development at Nats Prestwick, said: “We are predicted to have the highest amount of traffic we have ever had for a summer period this year.

“We are expecting to have around 15,000 more flights just in July and August compared to last year.

“We are ready for that and our controllers have been doing a great job up to this point making sure that we minimise the delays that people see and making sure that we keep people safe in the skies.

“We have been preparing for this since November, so the summer doesn’t come as a surprise to us, and we have a series of events to make sure our controllers are ready for the summer traffic.

“Indeed, this year, the build-up in traffic has helped us with that because we’ve had record days already that our controllers have dealt with extremely well.

“But one of the big challenges for us is the design of the airspace in the future and the traffic growth.”

‘Motorways in the sky’

He added: “We are investing over £600m over the next few years in the technology systems.

“In fact, at the Prestwick centre we are proud to say that we have the first version of iTec, our new flight data processing system, in operation already and that is the first in the UK.

“The skies are getting fuller every year and we are expecting to see increased traffic growth.

“But if you think about the airspace as effectively motorways in the sky, if you think about 1970s motorways with today’s car traffic, we are in a similar scenario.

“We are going to have to redesign our airspace and we are going to need government support to make sure we can do that in the right way.”