Diving In An Airplane

I’ve flown on many planes to various destinations and I’ve heard the same dubiously useful information given out by the cabin crew over and over again. Much of it is just reassuring bla meant to comfort our psyches and some of it is downright impossible to apply. For example, passengers are squeezed so tightly into ever smaller seats that the likelihood of them being able to bend over to assume the ‘crash position’ recedes with each passing year.

And how often do people survive a crash anyway?

Yes, I’ve heard many useless pieces of information over the years, but not once have I ever heard any crew member give an announcement about how to equalize the pressure in your ears.

You know – for that moment in the flight when the plane is descending in altitude in order to prepare for landing and every baby and child aboard starts to scream.

They are screaming because the pressure on the outside of the tympani (ear drums) in their ears is greater than the pressure inside. And it hurts. A lot.

Any diver knows about the importance of ‘equalizing’ when you descend into the sea. Every ten metres, the pressure doubles. Even if you dive to the bottom of a swimming pool, you will feel discomfort or even pain in your ears if you don’t equalize them.

The remedy is simple:

You pinch your nose with your fingers so that air can no longer escape and blow slowly into your nose as you would with a handkerchief. You keep up the air pressure until you hear a slight popping in each ear.

And hey presto, no more discomfort or pain.

On a plane, your hearing will suddenly become much clearer, as if all sound was previously muffled.

Equalizing is usually only necessary when the external pressure of water (or air in our plane situation) increases, not when it decreases.

A diver on the way back up to the surface does not usually have to equalize any more than a passenger in a plane taking off and climbing to its cruising altitude. When the pressure inside the ears is greater than that outside, the body normally releases the internal pressure naturally on its own.

So it’s only when the aircraft descends and the air pressure in the cabin increases that there’s a problem.

Some people are aware of this and chew gum which can help to equalize the pressure. However, I suspect that a great number of people who have never been diving do not know why their ears are hurting nor how simple it is to rectify.

Imagine how much pain and suffering could be avoided with a simple cabin announcement. Add to that the discomfort to other passengers of loud wailing in the cabin. Of course, babies and very small children may not be able to perform this simple manoeuvre, but it would still help a lot of children and adults.

So why does no airline company do it?

Beats me!

Have a great week!




P.S. In my humble opinion, the designers who construct planes so that toxic fumes from the engines are funnelled into the passenger cabin when the plane reverses out from its parking bay (yes, that disgusting oily burnt smell – you know exactly what I mean!) should have the same mixture funnelled into their homes on a daily basis until they come up with a responsible and healthy solution.

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