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Why you’re more likely to cry on a plane – and it’s due to science

FLYING has lots of strange effects on people’s bodies, including making people more emotional.

Passengers are often surprised to find themselves tearing up much more easily at in-flight movies, without knowing why.

People often find themselves crying more while flying without knowing why

However, there is a scientific reason that people find themselves crying while flying.

Firstly, the stress of flying plays its part in bringing you closer to tears.

Dr. Randi Mackintosh, a psychiatrist, said that it could be that passengers don’t realise how much the tension of travel has affected them.

He told Thrillist: “A lot has been building up. When you get up in the air, it might be the first time you’re realising how the stress is impacting you.”

There are other factors at play as well as stress.

The altitude of the plane can lead to passengers suffering from mild hypoxia, or low levels of oxygen in your body.

That can in turn create an altered emotional state, which can either lead to people feeling euphoric, or much more upset than usual.

A study from the American National Library of Medicine titled The Effect of Altitude on Cognitive Performance and Mood States claims: “The initial mood experienced at altitude is euphoria, followed by depression.



“With time, individuals may also become quarrelsome, irritable, anxious, and apathetic.”

The combination of both the stress and the effect of altitude on the body create an emotional state that make passengers more likely to burst into tears.

Some researchers have referred to the phenomenon as the “mile cry club“.

It could also be down to a perceived lack of control, according to Dr Jodi De Luca.

It’s not just psychological or emotional, it’s also a physical and physiological event.

She told Flyertalk: “We are cognitively, psychologically, emotionally [compromised], and now we’re physiologically compromised. The set-up is perfect for an emotional vulnerability.”

The phenomenon also affected singer Ed Sheeran, who previously revealed in an interview with Capital FM that he started crying at the end of the film Forrest Gump – in full view of the other passengers.

He said: “I cried watching Forrest Gump on a plane, it was at the end when Jenny dies.

“When you’re jet-lagged and at 10,000ft, you haven’t slept and you’re a little bit emotional anyway because you’re going away for a long time and it just set me off.”

Meanwhile this is how you avoid getting travel sick while on planes.

And here are eight myths about flying that passengers often believe.

Stress and lack of oxygen make passengers feel more emotional on planes

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