Is it unhealthy to drink alcohol when in a plane?

Is it unhealthy to drink alcohol when in a plane?

Most questions that start with ‘Is it unhealthy to drink alcohol…’ usually demand the same answer: ‘It depends how much.’ But it’s not quite as simple as that when it comes to flying as things are different in a pressurised cabin. (Note: we are talking passengers here, not pilots!)

Most airport bars are busy most of the time. Even when it’s just people waiting for the red-eye and it’s easy to see why. Lots of waiting around with little else to do, holiday high-spirits, nerve-calming tactics, sleep-inducing strategy. They’re also often one of the few places with any kind of visual character aside from the long corridors and acres of glass that airports usually have to offer. Oh, and there’s just a chance, a slim chance, that there will be fewer excitable children around!

Are airports allowed to serve alcohol?

Airport pubs such as our Manchester Airport Amber Alehouse can serve alcohol 24/7 as they are not subject to licensing laws if they are airside. There have been calls to impose the same restrictions to airside outlets and a government consultation has taken place; however, for the time being, there are no restrictions. We’re not the kind of brand that encourages binge drinking, we believe you should drink beer because you like the taste of it (hence why we take so much care over brewing it); that doesn’t change just because you’re at an airport or on a plane.

Does alcohol have more of an effect whilst flying?

You’ll hear people saying that a drink before-hand or on the plane goes straight to their heads due to the lower barometric pressure. This isn’t strictly true and there’s no scientific evidence that alcohol has a greater effect when you’re flying. Some people may experience mild hypoxia in the air (lower oxygen levels in the blood) which can lead to feeling a little more light-headed, but in the main, people cope well. The air is dryer which can lead to increased consumption just to combat thirst, but your blood alcohol level will be the same as if you were on the ground.

So you can have a drink before you board and have a drink during the flight – by all means, but also do the following:

Drink water (better to combat dehydration with water than with alcohol)
Make sure you eat (even the snacks – unless they’re really salty and make you want to drink more)

Don’t get too hung up on taste and flavour while in the air – your taste buds are affected making food and drink seem more bland. Apart from tomato juice! (But don’t order a Bloody Mary – cabin crew hate it when you do as it’s so fussy to prepare. And once you order one, everyone else wants one too!)

It really does depend on who you ask as to what advice you’ll hear – all we can suggest is to drink in moderation (as always) and make sure you have a bottle of water for each alcoholic drink you have – especially once you’re up in the air. Don’t forget: landing is rarely the end of your journey. You’ve still got to find your bags/get somewhere you’ve never been before/get a taxi/drive… you want to be relaxed and ready to face all that with a clear head.

Cheers and happy flying...

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