Mile High WeekFlying the “friendly skies” is often hell, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s Mile High Week, and we’re investigating everything flight-related, from how to score cheap tickets to the best time to book, from how to fall asleep on a long-haul flight to how to win the perennial war over armrests. Wheels up.
There’s a reason your gut expands while you’re in the air—and no, it’s not because of the sodium in the airplane food.
Turns out the increased altitude causes the gas in our intestines to expand by 30 percent, as Dr. Peter Hackett, director of the Institute for Altitude Medicine, told Conde Nast Traveler:
The ‘cabin altitude’ of most planes is equivalent to about 7,000 feet, he says. And as science has it, all gases—including those in your gut—expand as pressure decreases (or as altitude increases), Dr. Hackett explains. “Gas in the intestines will expand about 30 percent with a cabin altitude of 7,000 feet.”
That expanded gas has to go somewhere, which is why you often end up muffin-topping your airplane seatbelt or discreetly trying to eke out a fart.
It’s also a good reason to wear loose clothing on a plane, especially if you’re on a long flight—and to stand up, every once in a while, and crop-dust the aisle on your way to the airplane lavatory. (Don’t worry, the flight attendants are doing the exact same thing.)