Flight Attendants Reveal the Secrets to Avoid Getting Sick on an Airplane

Getting ready to travel? The journey from leaving home to boarding your flight can be exhausting. Even if you start your day feeling well, you might not feel so great by takeoff. These are the tips flight attendants recommend following if you want to make it through your flight without getting sick on the plane.

What causes airsickness?

Airplane interior seats

Airsickness is a real thing. | iStock/Getty Images

It’s your brain’s responsibility to coordinate signals from your inner ear, eyes, and certain muscles and joints during movement. When you’re walking forward, for example, all these signals usually line up.

Sometimes, explains Medical News Today, your brain receives conflicting signals when you’re sitting still but in motion — such as while you’re sitting in a car, boat, or airplane. You could say this confuses your brain, which is why some people feel nauseated in vehicles.

Next: What should you eat before a flight to reduce your chances of getting sick?

Eat a light meal the night before

sandwich of wholemeal bread

A light meal the night before will do. | iStock.com/Yulia_Davidovich

You need to eat something substantial before you fly — but you also don’t want to eat too much of the wrong kind of food. You should eat foods low in sodium, like fruits and vegetables. Also avoid foods high in fat that might upset your stomach. There’s nothing worse than a troubled tummy during takeoff.

Next: Even if you aren’t hungry before you fly, absolutely do not do this.

Don’t fly on an empty stomach

Airplane wing in sky & clouds

Flying while hungry can lead to motion sickness. | WeatherlyHammond/iStock/Getty Images

Especially if you’re a nervous flyer, you might consider waiting to eat until after you land. The last thing you want to do before a flight is keep your system running on empty, however. Traveling on an empty stomach could actually make motion sickness worse. At least snack on some crackers or dry cereal.

Next: Ask for this drink on your flight to ease your stomach.

Try the ginger ale

Ginger Ale Soda with ginger on a wooden board

Ginger ale can soothe an upset stomach. | iStock.com

According to Livestrong.com, ginger ale brands made with real ginger root do have the potential to soothe an upset stomach and reduce nausea. You can ask any of your flight attendants about the airline’s ginger ale ingredients. Even if the beverages are artificially flavored, the carbonation still might be able to ease  your symptoms.

Next: If ginger ale won’t cut it, maybe a different fizzy drink will.

Ask for a soda

Pepsi, Coca Cola And Fanta

Step away from the soda. | iStock.com/Radu Bercan

You can also sip on a glass of regular soda or sparkling water (if available) if you’re suffering from motion sickness or if the stress of traveling is wearing you down. In some people, fizzy drinks do more harm than good, but your stomach might thank you.

Next: If all else fails, these remedies are sure to help.

Medicate against motion sickness


Take a pill if you know you may become motion sick. | Areeya_ann/iStock/Getty Images

There are a few oral remedies you can use before or during your flight if you’re prone to motion sickness during air travel. Dramamine is probably the most well-known option, and can help you chemically prevent nausea while on a plane.

Next: This is the best place to sit if you’re prone to motion sickness during a flight.

Sit on the aisle over a wing

Woman reading magazine and listening to music on airplane

The seat you choose can help with airsickness. | kasto80/iStock/Getty Images

Flight attendants say an aisle seat over a wing, or a seat toward the front of the plane, might be your best option to avoid airsickness. If first class isn’t an option, though, the wings will do. This area tends to be the steadiest part of the plane while in the air.

Next: This simple trick will (probably) keep you free of germs.

Use the air vents

Seat Rows inside an Airplane

Use the air vent to get fresher air. | gabriellephotos/iStock/Getty Images

While directing air in front of your face can help relieve nausea, doing so might also prevent pathogens from invading your body. According to Business Insider, using the air vent above your seat could keep you healthy while on vacation or fend off unwanted viruses while visiting family and friends.

Next: This can ease anxiety and help you avoid getting sick.

Stretch your legs

Casually dressed middle aged man working on laptop in aircraft cabin

It’s important you stretch your legs. | Kasto80/iStock/Getty Images

Sitting for long periods of time is bad for your health. Make sure you get up and walk up and down the aisle a few times every hour or so, especially if you’re on a long international flight. Doing this can help ease any anxieties you have about traveling, and moving around could help settle your nausea.

Next: Doing this could keep you feeling healthy.

Get some sleep

Toddler boy sleeping on father's laps while traveling in airplane

You’ll want to get some shut eye like this little guy. | Yaoinlove/iStock/Getty Images

Whether you’re already not feeling well or you want to avoid feeling sick, a quick snooze can keep you feeling at your best. If you have trouble sleeping on planes, you just might not know how. Dressing comfortably, using a neck pillow, and wearing an eye mask are just some of the many things you can do to sleep better on an airplane.

Next: Watch what you eat and drink on the plane.

Avoid nausea-inducing foods and drinks

glasses and shots with different colored cocktails

A cocktail before a flight might not be the best option. | Tsuguliev/Getty Images

When any of your flight attendants ask what you want to eat or drink, choose your snacks and/or meals wisely. You should avoid salty or fatty foods that can dehydrate you or upset your stomach. You should also do your best to avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Next: Don’t fall into this motion sickness trap — listen to music instead.

Say no to screens

Cute Asian woman using smartphone and laptop on train

The screen will not help your troubles. | iStock.com/beer5020

According to Scientific American, motion sickness stems from disagreement between two primary sensations in your inner ear. When your eyes follow images on a screen in your hand, but you feel the plane rising, falling, or turning simultaneously, your body gets a little confused. You might feel nauseated as a result.

If you often feel sick while reading in the car, you might also want to avoid the activity while flying.

Next: This holistic technique may have some merit when you feel nauseated while flying.

Try ‘acupressure’

african airplane passenger using smart phone

Try out acupressure if you need to relieve stress. | michaeljung/iStock/Getty Images

Often called pressure acupuncture — or acupuncture without needles — this eastern medical practice is believed to have restorative capabilities in treating chronic disease. According to WebMD, acupressure sometimes helps relieve symptoms like nausea or neck pain. In your airplane seat, you can try applying pressure to a certain point on the inside of your wrist to relieve nausea.

You can also find special wristbands sold over the counter that might have the same affect.

Next: Relieve your anxieties and make traveling more enjoyable (and less nauseating).


Traveler waiting on an airplane

Meditation can help relieve anxiety. | iStock.com

Some people who are prone to motion sickness on an airplane also suffer from anxieties related to flying. Taking a few moments to meditate before or during your flight can help ease these anxieties if flying makes you nervous. Meditation also benefits your brain, improves your mood, and reduces stress.

Traveling can take a lot out of you. Give yourself some room to breathe.

Next: Learn to recognize the symptoms of motion sickness.

What does airsickness feel like?

Traveling by airplane

Becoming airsick can cause you to sweat. | Chalabala/iStock/Getty Images

Motion sickness while on a plane can cause cold sweating, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting. Some people might also experience extreme tiredness or headaches. It isn’t the only thing that can make you feel sick on a plane, but it’s likely the most common cause.

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