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Ned
02-26-2008, 06:50 AM
Chris Elliott has a new article at MSNBC entitled, That’s sick! 8 ways to avoid the bug, Learned lessons from travelers’ experiences and current events (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23297578/). The theme of the article is staying healthy while traveling.

I normally like Chris' articles, and his personality in them, and while many of the points of this one are quite good, there is one, which by the way he put it, that I found close to offensive, considering most people don't have the economic wherewithal of flying up front. I think Chris was trying to be "cute," but it didn't come out that way, when he said,

Never fly in economy class
“The lack of leg room will bring your knee into your face — or the face of the person in front who leans his seat all the way back,” says Irvine, Calif.-based travel agent Tommie Imbernino. That can be hazardous to your health. Cramped seats raise your risk of developing a potentially fatal blood clot. A British parliamentary committee recently called for the minimum space between seats to be increased by at least two inches for health reasons. If you’re stuck in a small seat, don’t forget to get up and stretch. Your life could depend on it.Yes, the seats in economy, virtually any airline's economy seats, are too small, and the rows are far too close together, but I personally found Chris' point's heading a bit too blithe, and his suggested preventative not nearly detailed enough, even in a short column, considering its importance.

The problems of sitting during long flights in cramped economy seats have been documented for a long time now, and even has a name, "economy class syndrome." There have been many studies of the syndrome done during the last decade. Dr. Stanley Mohler's outstanding pioneering work in this field at the Wright State University (named for the famed Wright Brothers) School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio is perhaps the best known in the field. Dr. Mohler is director of the preeminent Wright State Aerospace Medicine Program.

Dr. Mohler offers the following advice for preventing "economy class syndrome" on long flights:
Book exit row, bulkhead, or aisle seats to get more leg room.
Wear loose-fitting clothes and avoid knee-length stockings that constrict circulation.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which contribute to dehydration during long flights. Drink plenty of other fluids.
Walk up and down the aisle periodically.
Massage feet, ankles, lower legs, and knees to move blood out of the legs and toward the heart.
While seated, exercise calf muscles by clenching your toes.
According to Dr. Mohler, people at high risk of blood clots should consult their doctor about taking a half-strength aspirin to thin the blood before long flights.I am fortunate enough to have lots of frequent flier points on several airlines, and have been able to upgrade to FC/BC on most of my long flights, yet I continue to follow Dr. Mohler's advice even when up front. Frankly, flying in FC/BC is not much of a "economy class syndrome" preventative, and even those up front must take precautions.

When flying up front, one thing I see all the time, which mystifies me, is passengers loading up on alcoholic drink after alcoholic drink. Since alcohol is included in the price of the ticket, I guess they're trying to get their money's worth, but it's diametrically opposite to being smart, and staying healthy. In my life, I could be considered a caffeine addict. I drink lots of ice tea, all year round, but while flying, I exclusively drink orange and tomato juice, and lots of water.

In recent days, two deaths on commercial plane flights have been reported, one a passenger, and the other a pilot. We don't know if "economy class syndrome" played a part in those deaths. Nevertheless, I hope everyone takes Dr. Mohler's advice seriously, and in the future flies safely and healthy.

Loonbeam
02-26-2008, 07:53 AM
My tip:

I find the Dr. Scholls Diabetic socks are WAY comfortable on a plane and help with circulation...

msnovtue
02-26-2008, 09:55 AM
When flying up front, one thing I see all the time, which mystifies me, is passengers loading up on alcoholic drink after alcoholic drink. Since alcohol is included in the price of the ticket, I guess they're trying to get their money's worth, but it's diametrically opposite to being smart, and staying healthy. In my life, I could be considered a caffeine addict. I drink lots of ice tea, all year round, but while flying, I exclusively drink orange and tomato juice, and lots of water.

That always makes me wonder, too.... My only guess is that if it's not what you mentioned, it's nervous flyers self-medicating. Personally, when I fly, I stick to oj or ginger ale. The ginger ale may not be the healthiest thing, but it is uncaffinated, and it can do wonders to keep your stomach settled.

As a ...*ahem* "larger" flyer myself, I can only offer what I've learned over the years:

1. Try to keep your 'personal item' you stow under the seat in front of you small-- the less room it takes, the more room there is for your feet & legs.

2. If no one objects, push the arm rest up. Anything that will give you even marginally more room is an improvement.

3. The idea of getting up & waking around the plane is one I often see-- but completely impractical. If the FAs aren't telling you to sit down again, it's because they're blocking the aisle with a food/drink cart. Nice idea, but unrealistic. Instead, just try to strech when you can, and do something periodically to get your blood moving-- I usually end up tapping my feet for a bit or something.

The concept of "never fly economy class" is wonderful-- if you're a frequent flier with lots of upgrade miles or have enough $$$ that it isn't an issue. However, for the majority of flyers, that simply isn't an option, and I've always found it a tad insulting. I mean, really-- who flies EC because they *want* to???

Maybe ther will come a day in the future when the airlines wake up & realize the majority of the population does not fit in an 18-inch seat. But until that far-off fantasy time, most of us are stuck in economy whether we like it or not. If you've flown EC, no one needs to tell you it's not healthy, for heaven's sake....

Ned
02-26-2008, 10:47 AM
...2. If no one objects, push the arm rest up. Anything that will give you even marginally more room is an improvement...

Er...sorry, but I've found when I'm sitting in Economy next to a large person, if I let the arm rest go up, not only do I loose it, but part of my seat as well. So while I sympathize, frankly I use it as a barrier, to retain my full seat. While I'm not a large person, I don't have a small bottom, and pretty well fill out the seat. On very long flights, I know some large people who purchase a second seat, so they have the room they need.

...3. The idea of getting up & waking around the plane is one I often see-- but completely impractical. If the FAs aren't telling you to sit down again, it's because they're blocking the aisle with a food/drink cart. Nice idea, but unrealistic. Instead, just try to strech when you can, and do something periodically to get your blood moving-- I usually end up tapping my feet for a bit or something...

Since 9/11 FAs generally won't let anyone wonder around any more, even in FC/BC. I always purchase an aisle seat so I can regularly get up, stand beside my seat, hold on to the overhead bin door and use it to help me stretch. I haven't been bothered by the FAs when I do that. I do have to be careful on some planes to avoid this during the movie, so I don't block anyone's view.

In addition to stretching, I haven't had much of a problem getting walks in while in flight. I make frequent trips to the lavatory, whether I need it or not, just so I can walk about a bit. I often go when there is a line, and let people go ahead of me, so I can continue to stand up for a while. In addition, if you're on my flight you'll see me speaking with the FAs quite a bit in the galley areas while standing. Once they've served the meal and accomplished most of their duties, I've found its easy to strike up a conversation with them, especially once they realize you fly and travel often. On a recent flight to Amsterdam, the head FA and I must have stood in the galley area for almost 2 hours talking. The captain joined us for quite a while on his break.

I also do occasional isometrics while in flight.

Loonbeam
02-26-2008, 12:56 PM
My doc strongly recommends apple juice on flights. Something about the balance of sugars and water makes it an optimal choice, or so she says. So, I drink Apple juice.

NEVER drink cranberry juice in a window seat on long flights ;)

Gesualdo
02-27-2008, 09:36 AM
Er...sorry, but I've found when I'm sitting in Economy next to a large person, if I let the arm rest go up, not only do I loose it, but part of my seat as well. So while I sympathize, frankly I use it as a barrier, to retain my full seat. While I'm not a large person, I don't have a small bottom, and pretty well fill out the seat. On very long flights, I know some large people who purchase a second seat, so they have the room they need.

Well, he did say "if no one objects..."

JBM
02-28-2008, 10:52 AM
...I normally like Chris' articles, and his personality in them, and while many of the points of this one are quite good, there is one, which by the way he put it, that I found close to offensive, considering most people don't have the economic wherewithal of flying up front. I think Chris was trying to be "cute," but it didn't come out that way...

...I personally found Chris' point's heading a bit too blithe, and his suggested preventative not nearly detailed enough, even in a short column, considering its importance...

Aw, Ned, it could have been worse. He could have borrowed from an episode of "The Flintstones" which referred to coach as "Steerage Class." :D

This is why I like flying Midwest Airlines' "Signature Service" and United's "Economy Plus." I can't afford First Class or Business Class, but the small extra expense of those services are worth it for the leg room (and in Midwest's case, the elbow room, which sometimes is even more important than leg room).

JBM
03-03-2008, 12:39 PM
Maybe ther (sic) will come a day in the future when the airlines wake up & realize the majority of the population does not fit in an 18-inch seat....

You think that's bad? Some airlines use less than 18"! Try NW, for one. According to SeatGuru.com, most if not all of their coach seats (even on A320-series aircraft) are 17.2" (I assume they mean 17-1/4"). The same source shows that while American uses 18" seats on their MD Super-80 family aircraft, the coach seats on 737, 757, 767s are the same 17.2", and 17.8" (17-3/4"?) on the A300. At least the 777 uses 18 or 18.5" seats in coach.

If you can, try Midwest Airlines before the 21" seat in Signature Service disappears altogether. Those seats are going to become a lot harder to get on their 717s as they start removing several rows of those seats in favor of 17" Saver Service seats starting in June. And if NW and DL merge, who knows what will become of Midwest then (NW has a 20% stake in YX as result of them being a partner in TPG Capital, which bought out the airline last year)?