People take long-haul flights now and then for various reasons. Countless individuals fly around the world daily. Traveling by air is by far the fastest and safest mode of transportation. But, long-haul flights involve certain risk factors.
Qantas recently completed the world’s longest commercial flight in a single go. This long-haul flight was a test. After the approval of this test, one-go long-haul flights could begin within 2-3 years.
But do these flights harm human health? Is it safe for individuals to undergo such long-distance routes in a go?
The long-haul test flight
The test flight lasted 19 hours and 16 minutes and flew from New York to Sydney, Australia, covering 10,066 miles (16,200 kilometers). A month after the first test flight, a further extended test flight from London to Sydney will occur.
A Boeing 787-9 plane flew from New York to Sydney, carrying 49 people – every staff member and other non-public employees.
During the flight, they supervised the pilot’s brain waves. They gathered much other information too. The motive was to learn about the impacts of such a long-haul flight on the human mind and body.
Restrictions on test flight
The maximum amount of fuel was equipped on the test flight. The flight contained no cargo and restricted luggage to maintain the plane’s weight. The low passenger count was an effort to reduce the load for the test.
Technology needs to catch up in this era. No airplanes can carry a maximum load while on a no-stop long-haul flight. Nevertheless, Boeing and other airline companies are working on this and will likely have a viable plane ready soon.
Effects of long-haul flights on humans
Following are the effects of long-haul flights
It is possible to become dehydrated. Long-haul flights are notorious for causing dehydration. It may clarify why your throat, nose, and skin feel dry while flying. The likelihood of dehydration increases with the increase in the hours of flight.
Cabin’s low humidity levels cause dehydration. The dehydration is because most air circulated through the cabin is drawn from outside. And there isn’t much moisture at high altitudes.
Earache, headaches, and sleep problems
Whether in first class or economy, airplane ear will probably get to you. Remember how your ears feel when a flight lands and takes off or if there’s a drastic shift in altitude? This sensation is called the ear plain ear or ear barotrauma. Yawning, swallowing, or chewing gum might help with airplane ears.
You may also feel sleepier than usual. The body cannot absorb enough oxygen from the cabin air at elevation as it would on the ground. Decelerating is the body’s natural method of defending itself, and it can cause sleepiness.
But the great news is that most of these issues will remain the same on no-stop long-haul flights. They are most noticeable as the plane rises and goes down.
The most concerning symptom for travelers is distressing or swollen legs. Sitting in a cramped seat for many hours can cause circulation problems, including foot swelling. According to a study, the likelihood of your body starting to form blood clots rises when blood does not flow properly, such as on long-haul flights. According to a study, the longer hours you travel, the more likely you will develop a blood clot.
What about the possibility of blood clots on no-stop long-haul flights? We can only be sure once we begin studying passengers on them.
It is suggested to follow the existing advice until we know the solution for non-stop long-haul flights. Getting up for a short walk several times or stretching and rotating your legs and feet while sitting in your seat can help stimulate blood flow.
Our bodies operate on rhythms established by the loop of sunlight to darkness. Our human brain yields different chemicals during the day and night.
After some time, our bodies can easily be adapted to slight differences in these time cycles. Much time is required while traveling east to west or west to east at the speed of a brisk walk or a horseback ride. Much faster than that, we start to feel the adverse effects of disrupting our wake-sleep cycle. In the modern era, this startling effect is known as jet lag.
Crossing a few time zones is a small deal. They can have minor effects on humans, like fatigue or nighttime wakefulness.
However, crossing several more can cause havoc in our system. And the strain on the human mind and body can be tremendous.
The long-haul flights impact on physical health
Apart from other problems, no-stop long-haul flights can be physically taxing. Most people prefer to sit briefly, while it may be okay for some.
Sitting for so long can cause blood flow restrictions, flare-ups of other conditions and ailments, and, in some cases, life-threatening conditions such as blood clots or risky shifts in blood pressure.
The current longest flights
Observing the existing longest flights and assuming a rise in adverse effects may be the finest method for evaluating the impacts of non-stop long-haul flights.
Singapore Airlines currently operates the lengthiest commercial airline leg, Singapore to New York, covering about 15,344 km in eighteen hours and twenty minutes. Six other flights, operated by various airlines, take more than eighteen hours to complete.
Before breaking even more commercial flight duration records, we should analyze the influence of existing ultra-long-haul flights. And then proceed with the information and wisdom gained from what we’ve already been doing.
Physical health can withstand more significant strain and stress than an unhealthy body. If you’re going on an ultra-long-haul flight, ensure you’re in good shape.
Get up and walk around frequently during the flight to allow blood circulation and give your mind a different world. Make your way well-rested and well-fed. Avoid excessive drinking during the plane, and learn to adjust to the light period as suggested by the flight staff.
Shaheera Khalid is the writer of this article. She has been writing articles on health for two years.