Alcohol In The Air

Author/Flight Attendant explains the impact of drinking in the air.

By: Tracye D. Bryant

In most people’s opinions, a good party just isn’t good unless there are a free flowing variety of alcoholic beverages to choose from.  Some enjoy a nice drink or cocktail in the company of friends and colleagues, others use it as a means to wash away the woes of a hectic work day at night and of course there are those who partake anytime the urge hits them.  But what about when traveling?  As a flight attendant, it is often interesting to me to see passengers come aboard an early morning flight at 6:00 am and order a Bloody Mary or a Screwdriver.  It is quite surprising the number of business men and women who are traveling to corporate meetings that will have a cocktail in the air before they land.  Now, while some may feel that they have a high tolerance level for alcohol and can handle it, do they really understand the effects that alcohol has on their cognitive ability during the day?  The bottom line is people tend to drink larger amounts of alcohol in a shorter time frame while in the air.  Many come loaded with a handful of drink coupons and feel the need to utilize them all at one time.  So the question still remains, does alcohol affect you differently when flying?  The answer is yes.  When traveling at higher levels of altitude, the effects of alcohol consumption is intensified when you factor in the pressurization of the cabin.  The reduced pressure at higher altitudes limits the ability of the blood to absorb oxygen.   It is the responsibility of the flight crew to ensure the safety of all passengers onboard an aircraft.  Often times we have individuals who come onboard that have already had a drink or two prior to the flight and therefore we have to deny further consumption while in the air.  This can be a challenging situation, as most individuals don’t feel as if they are under the influence to the point of not being in control.  We encourage passengers to consume relative amounts of water to ensure they stay well hydrated at all times during the flight.  The air on an airplane is very dry and can cause dry mouth, sluggishness even in a short amount of time.  Please remember, when ordering a cocktail on a flight, drink a glass of water for every one drink you have.  Be sure to pace yourself.  Do not consume more than two drinks on an aircraft.  Once you have reached your final destination, again, be sure to drink lots of water to ensure that you do not experience a rapid influx of intoxication. For more information regarding the effects of alcohol on an aircraft visit the Federal Aviation Administration website at www.faa.gov .