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Friday, 7 September 2007

Effects of flying on passengers and crews' health.

Whilst I am not an authority on the above subject,I can safely say that after 35 years of flying with the airline, my observation is that it does have an effect on the crews'overall health. However,there are crew whose general health are not affected too.

As far as I know,the oldest cabin crew of the jet era who is still alive and healthy is Mr. John Chan,an ex colleague of mine. He is probably around 68 years old (correct if I am wrong John,just in case you are reading this post) and had retired at age 60.

John is a very positive man who takes things easy,in fact too easy at times.He is a relaxed sort and trivial matters do not bother him. He still plays golf occasionally and has a supportive wife at least 10 younger than him.

There are others like John,take for example ex crew like Mike Lam,Edward Ang,Georgie Boy who are well into their late 60s,still healthy and kicking around.

On the other hand,there are more senior crew and ex crew who are not as healthy as those mentioned above.

Those,in my humble opinion,who are not as heathty are in the majority.Some of them are affected mentally while the majority physically.

Some of the crew did not have the opportunity to enjoy their retirement. They passed away with illnesses like cancer,heart attacks etc. at a relatively young age.Others were crippled with strokes and other physical sicknesses as well as mental illnesses.

I know of cases where young crew died of cancers,AIDS(indirectly caused by flying too,if you know what I mean)and heart problems etc. etc.

There is no statistic available on what is the average the crew died or the types of sicknesses they had.

As far as I know the latest of those who were struck by strokes were a chief steward and a retired flight engineer. The former was in his mid 40s and the latter was in his mid 60s. They both looked a picture of health before the tragedy. In fact the ex flight engineer was a triathlon athlete and had a stroke recently after a swim at STC.

There was an ex senior who was recently diagnosed with cancer of the lympth nodes. Another ex crew had prostrate cancer. Both are currently undergoing treatment.
Those who did not make it were IFS (inflight supervisors)Keneth Chan,David Chan, Vincent Loh( Admin officer who was flying for at least 10 yrs),Senior stewardesses Honey Leong,Grace and others. They all died of various forms of cancer.

As for the passengers,I do not know the "statistic" of how many were ill or died as a result of prolong flying.
Among passengers, long hours of flying had killed a couple of them on other carriers. They died of "economy class syndrome" and heart related dieseases.

Stewardesses having miscarriages is quite a common complaint. We do not know how many had miscarriges as a result of flying because the girls are too embarrassed to tell us.

Air Rage:

Air rage is also a result of long duration of flying. I was told by the experts air rage was caused by oxygen deprivation.

ALL AROUND THE WORLD, frequent flyers, territorial about armrests and fretful about footing, now secretly wonder if the person next to them is a business flyer or a berserk flyer!
And they may have good reason to be apprehensive. Unruly behavior in the skies has been increasing at an astonishing rate in both numbers and levels of hostility.
In well-publicized incidents, airline passengers have defecated on food carts, beaten up crew members, and even sexually assaulted their own seats!
Here are some examples of "air rage."

Passenger Mr. Finneran, a banker, was fined $50,000 by United Airlines after he assaulted an attendant and then defecated on a first-class food cart during a Buenos Aires-to-New York flight.

Passenger Mr. Guzman-Hernandez removed his pants and then "simulated having sex with the back of his own seat."
Passenger Mr. Misiak put his hands around the throat of a flight attendant and threatened her because she spilled a drink on him.

A passenger named Ms. Pennix grabbed a flight attendant's finger and bent it backward. Pennix explained to authorities that she didn't like the way the flight attendant told her to put her tray and seat in an upright position before landing.

Passenger Mrs. Levy grabbed a flight attendant by the arms and twisted her wrists. Levy was traveling with three children and explains that she lost her temper because her 20-month-old was crying, had wet pants, and there was no way to get to the bathroom.

Passenger Mr. Okada from Japan "allegedly urinated on the seats" then punched another passenger who told him to stop.

A group of drunken Irish tourists were apparently so unruly over the Atlantic that the crew enlisted the help of a wrestling team to restrain them.
Airline crews have begun to take drastic measures which sometimes have disastrous consequences.

In December 1998, an unruly passenger was aboard a Malov flight between Bangkok and Budapest. The crew and passengers tied the unruly man to his seat, then a doctor on board injected him with a tranquilizer.
The passenger died--tied to his seat with airplane headset cords!
Once the crew noticed that the unruly passenger had died, the plane made an unscheduled stop in Istanbul. Five witnesses (passengers) were detained by the Turkish police along with the doctor. After a 13-hour delay, the remaining 183 passengers winged away (and behaved themselves, in spite of their late arrivals and missed connections).
An autopsy in Istanbul showed that the unruly passenger had died due to the mixture in his blood of the tranquilizer and some other drug or alcohol.


The airlines must accept the major portion of the blame. Here's why, numbered 1 through 5:

1) Airline management is not responding to the need for in-flight security. Crews should not be in the position to be bouncers and bodyguards.
Every flight attendant I know has been the brunt of temperamental travelers. When I was exhausted myself at times, my lack of training in this area did not give me the skills to handle these passengers as well as I could have.

2) One more cause of air rage is certainly the in-flight cabin environment--a place that is high in toxic chemicals and allergens, and low in air pressure and oxygen.
Vincent Mark, M.D., an environmental physician in Santa Cruz, supports my theory. "Curtailment of fresh air in airplanes can be causing deficient oxygen in the brains of passengers, and this often makes people act belligerent, even crazy," said Dr. Mark in a telephone interview, adding "I'm positive about this, and it can be proven with a simple blood test."
Rage bubbles up at high altitude just like soft drinks fizz over at high altitudes. The link between air rage and poor air quality deserves a closer look. To start with, passenger unruliness began to rise some 20 years ago, coinciding with the cost-cutting practice of using recycled air instead of fresh air in commercial jets.

3) Still another culprit, high on the list of irritants for airline passengers, is cramped "sardine seating." Airline seats are now as small as seats on subway trains, and with many flights lasting longer, passengers feel they are packed like sardines in a can, or chickens in crowded cages. Is it any wonder they peck peevishly at those around them?
The last time I flew, I was in an aisle seat in economy. The passenger next to me was too large to fit in his seat, and his touching me all through the flight made me very uncomfortable. On the other side, everyone who passed, even the carts, bumped into me.
Airline executives (who travel in first class) have, to date, only pointed to excess luggage as the cause for surly passenger behavior. In testimony before Congress, airline management blamed air rage on the number and size of bags passengers bring on the plane.
Upon closer examination, it appears the airlines themselves have contributed to the luggage problem by removing coat closets, leaving little room for garment bags or heavy outer clothing.
And with eight percent of all airline baggage lost or stolen, travelers are increasingly reluctant to check their luggage.

4) The difference between passenger expectations for comfort and service and the reality of what awaits them on board, especially in coach class, is no doubt another contributor to the increase of air rage. Airline ads still show flight attendants answering passengers' every wish. This is not possible because all the airlines have downsized to save money.

5) Alcohol and altitude don't mix. The inside of the airplane cabin is 8,000 feet. Passengers are afffected by alcohol more quickly than they realize at high altitudes. Drinking dehydrates people, and this can lead to irritability, fatigue and tunnel vision. Since alcohol also lowers inhibitions, why should we be surprised that it also magnifies the emotional reaction to the difficult flying environment? Most air rage incidents have been alcohol related.While "unruly" passengers have been a problem within the airline industry for many years, they are just now coming to the attention of the public, the press and Congress. Even flight attendants are speaking up--in spite of the gag orders most have signed with their respective airlines.
Since passengers, not just crew, are being fondled and assaulted, Congress is investigating. But the chances of an effective response are slim considering the fact that minimal airplane air quality standards--debated in Congress since June 12, 1996--have yet to pass into law.


In case you find yourself on a flight with an air raged "unruly" passenger:

• Rather than confront the offender directly, leave your seat and seek out the purser or senior flight attendant. The purser is usually found in first class, so bypass the flight attendants in coach. Give the purser the row and seat number of the unruly passenger. Remain calm and communicate clearly.• And if you have a tendency to be an unruly passenger, here's what you might consider. The airplane is a microcosm of humanity. There are high-techies next to hikers, politicians next to pilgrims, and business flyers next to bawdy kids. Keep in mind that the trip is a challenge for everyone on board. Tolerance and gestures of gentility could make your flights more pleasant--for you, and for everyone around you as well.• Please! Think what you can do to make it easier for others. Say "please." Be kind. Act on your compassion.
Air Rage source : Air Travel Health News


Anonymous said...

wats the percentage air crews die cos work related? how this work got them into cancer? and wats the percentage pf them got mental illness? i know some pilots and they talk to themsleves and living in a illusion life. i think they already sia actually chk whether they are mentally ok to work? the pilots had been staying in the cockpit for a long period of time til they talk to themselves.

boh tong said...

It is difficult to prove which sicknesses are due to flying over a long period as crew.Right now there are no statistic or comprenhensive study done. From my personal observation,there are more cancer and heart related dieseases occuring among cabin as well as cockpit crew as compared to office workers.
As for mental illnesses,the victims are usually cabin crew.Pilots are more immuned. Here I classify mental illnesses as schizo,panic and anxiety attack,prolong insomnia,obsessionnal compulsion etc.

Anonymous said...

i think the reason y the cabin crew hav panic attack cos mostly are female and their bf sleep ard.

Boh Tong said...

U may be right eg Beh an ex stewardess is also having PA

Anonymous said...

ya and i know some other sia girl mei the ne wit kevin

Anonymous said...

A United pilot told me that pilots do not like to fly the polar route because of the exposure to high radiation at the pole.

Anonymous said...

haha i didnt know tat they don like to fly the polar rd cos they were saying tat the view is fantastic

Anonymous said...

I know of many flight attendants that have had miscarriages, rotator cuff injuries, and panic attacks. Pilots get cancer 3 times as often as others.