What you should never do on a plane
By Edwin Kis'sanya

A plane cabin [David Mark, Pixabay]

Eating what drops on your tray table

“Germs are not aware,” is a common phrase for some people who assume that germs cannot transfer from a surface to food within a few seconds. They will eat it - unless the food is covered in visible dirt. Moreover, they do the same when their cookie touches a plane’s tray table.

This is risky.

You must be thinking that the bathroom stall locks and the lavatory flush button are the dirtiest places on a plane but you will be surprised to learn that the tray table is the dirtiest. According to Travelmath.com, a website that calculates the driving and flying time between cities, the tray table has 2, 155 colony-forming units of dirt per square inch. 

Sitting the entire flight

Travelling by aeroplane means that you are subjected to at least 30 minutes of sitting. This is bad for your health and has been linked to cardiovascular diseases.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2016 titled: All-Cause Mortality Attributable to Sitting Time: Analysis of 54 Countries Worldwide, sitting time (over three hours a day) was responsible for about 433, 000 deaths every year. 

The study concluded that minimising sitting time would increase life expectancy by 0.20 years. 

It is, therefore, important to stand up and walk around during your flight. This allows blood to better circulate in your body. It is also important to occasionally rotate your ankles when seated.

The Healthy.com, a health and wellness website points out that walking, or raising and lowering one’s heels while sitting engages their calf muscles, squeezing veins and propelling blood upward, which helps prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) - a clotting of the blood in veins. 

Drinking the airline’s tap water 

The higher you go, the cooler it becomes - the result, low humidity. The air around the plane cabin has limited water vapour meaning that your body loses more water than you think. If your body is not well hydrated, you may get a headache. 

You should drink enough water before your flight and keep hydrating yourself while in the air.

However, you have to be cautious about the safety of the tap water available on your flight. A 2004 study, conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency, EPA - the federal agency responsible for ensuring safe aircraft drinking water, found that one in every eight planes fails the agency’s standards for water safety.

Going big on complimentary booze

Most airlines serve free drinks - soda, juice, water and alcohol but please go slow on the latter. 

But little alcohol on a plane can turn out to be too much. Just like mountaineering, your body’s ability to absorb oxygen is reduced when flying because of the high altitude and the low pressure.  

Given that your tissues are not getting enough oxygen, you may seem more drank than you already are. Too much alcohol impairs one’s judgement and it can get worse on the plane.