Remember The ‘One In The Air Is Two On The Ground’ Rule When Flying


If you fancy an alcoholic drink or two when you’re on a plane, keep in mind that the drinks could affect you more than they would if you were on land.

Photo by petrr

Aviation Health explains how a plane’s cabin environment can make alcohol’s effect on us more potent:

Alcohol’s principal action is to slow down brain activity by restricting oxygen intake to the brain. When passengers ascend to moderate altitudes while on a plane they are already subjected to the additional oxygen deficiency caused by lower pressure in the cabin. This “double-whammy” makes alcohol have a much more powerful effect than normal.

Some air travellers who are more vulnerable than others to the concentration of alcohol in their bloodstream find that the consumption of only a couple of drinks can produce an “instant hangover” that lasts the duration of the flight.

Flying doesn’t literally make alcohol more potent or double your blood alcohol levels, as The New York Times has being at high altitudes does have a hampering effect, you might not want to order too many drinks in the air.

Arrive in Better Shape [Aviation Health]


  • Well that explains why the mere half-dozen I had last international left me feeling so hammered. I thought I was turning into a cadbury. That’s a relief!

    Also, explains all the terrible behaviour from celebrities on flights when they’d have a pretty good idea of how many they can usually handle…

  • I don’t know where they are getting “Alcohol’s principal action is to slow down brain activity by restricting oxygen intake to the brain.” Ethanol’s principle action is to bond to GABA receptors, increasing that neurotransmitter’s effects. Nothing to do with oxygen. I’ll buy that it affects you more, but that’s not the mechanism.

  • I reckon this one’s a bit of an urban legend. Either that, or there are other contributing factors… perhaps people eat less when flying? Back in the days when I drank I used to love having a few on international flights, but definitely never experienced an increased effect.

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