couple of friends who've just returned from a vacation in
truth is that traveling isn’t as fun as we pretend it is. It's not that I don't
enjoy those heavenly moments of strolling down Piccadilly
be told: both problems have workable technological solutions but carriers
prefer to ignore them -- probably because passengers don't complain
much about these issues.
respect to the background noise, better insulation and quieter engines can
reduce background noise to a more acceptable level, which will enable passengers to hear
music from their portable music players without having to pump up the volume to
air in the passenger's cabin is a more serious problem. Most passengers don't realize that carriers
skimp a few pennies by loading a smaller amount of oxygen on board. Thus, instead of the 21%
of oxygen in air breathed at sea level, the air mixture in an aircraft cabin contains
15% of oxygen. If that's not enough, the air mixture has to be heated because
the outside temperature is -76F (-60C) some 37,000 ft above ground (11.2 km). To
save a few more bucks, the air mixture is heated by the plane's engines. This is bad! Toxic
fumes from the engine sneak into the heated air mixture. Consequently, not only
is the aircraft cabin air extremely dry and low in oxygen, it also contains
toxic gases. No wonder why flights are so exhausting.
I don't have a magical solution to this air problem. Carrying more oxygen on board means burning more expensive fuel, hence even more expensive tickets and a higher carbon footprint. However, this expense can be offset by offering a bonus for passengers with light baggage, and perhaps by better design of the airplane's seats. Whatever the solution is, one thing is sure: if passengers start demanding better air during flights, they will get it. After all, non-essential services such as mobile phones on board, duty free shopping and a wide selection of wines are available because passengers demand them.