When was the last time you got off a flight feeling really good? Not “good” by the standards of just having got off a flight – but “good” as in sharp-alert-rested-healthy good?

We may walk and stretch a bit on board, and drink plenty of water. We may travel in first or business. But there’s no getting around the basic fact that even a short flight is, health-wise, a negative to be minimised.

Cabin Air

So consider those who work on the aircraft. Recent research has revealed that flight attendants suffer, compared to the general population, from shocking rates of fatigue, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and cancers. They are heavily exposed to radiation and ozone, to poor air quality and even to pesticides and toxins from cabin cleaning – not to mention noise, a gruelling work routine and verbal and sexual harassment from colleagues and customers.

Aircraft and cabin equipment makers are working to reduce some of these factors and, as employers, some airlines are better than others. But there is no escaping the fact that an aircraft cabin is by nature a difficult workplace and airlines are under extreme financial pressure to minimise costs and squeeze every drop of productivity out of their employees.

At the very least, as passengers let us all spare a kind word and a smile for the cabin crew – if only for selfish reasons: our lives may depend on their good health.

Source: Flight International