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Whilst amazing technological advances over the last century has made air travel for 12+ hours at a time possible, life for us humans travelling at 30,000 feet still remains somewhat different. Whilst clever air circulation and cabin air pressure systems simulates around a 7,000 elevation on earth, your body still goes through small alterations, even at this simulated altitude.
The higher you get, the less oxygen your blood can absorb from the air, which causes drowsiness – hence why most people find it easy to sleep on planes, even if they don’t have a pillow. Because of the unnatural position that most people sleep in on planes, blood is more likely to pool in the lower parts of your body – like your legs. This also causes your blood oxygen levels to drop, causing further sleepiness. To help prevent this, passengers are advised to get up from their seats at regular intervals, or at the very least, flex their feet and calf muscles in their seat to encourage more blood up to the rest of their bodies.
In conditions of heightened altitude, our tongues pick-up far less flavour in food. Whilst we strongly believe that multiple Michelin star food isn’t achievable due to airplane food regulations, this really doesn’t help matters! But why do we get less flavour out of food on a plane?
The recirculated, pressurised air present on any flight tends to dry out our noses and thus our noses' production of naval mucus, which is key to the communication of flavour to the brain through scent. Have you have tasted food whilst holding your nose? You can’t taste much right? The same principle applies here.
Again, because re-circulated air tends to be very dry, sucking the moisture from our skin, and coupled with the added air pressure of the cabin, you might find some skin lotion very handy when travelling long-haul. The simplest solution would be to up your intake of water, that is of course, if you don’t mind upping trips to the toilet too!