Air quality on BA

Old Mar 24, 12, 5:17 am
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Air quality on BA

On BA48 on Thursday there were a couple of people fainting during the flight. I didnt see it, but the crew mentioned it in the morning.

I woke up mid flight and felt very dizzy and was convinced I was about to pass out. This has happened to me one time earlier (different airline) and it felt similar.

Throughout the flight the air quality felt really bad. I have no idea if this was the cause of the fainting or my woozines, but poor air + dehydration + tiredness + stress + a bit of alchohol are all likely to be factors.

I understand the airline can control the quality of the air and doing so has a relation to fuel economy. The better the air quality the worse the fuel economy.

Does anyone know of any surverys of air quality across flights or airlines? It would be interesting to see how much it varies.

Edit to say. In my experience the best thing to do if you feel like you are going to pass out is to stay in your seat. Call the crew if necessary, but typically you pass out when you stand up, especially if you do it too quickly.
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Old Mar 24, 12, 5:34 am
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Quoting a reliable source

It is not enough to pressurise an aircraft; it also has to be ventilated to provide comfort to the occupants and to remove contaminants.
There are two main types of ventilation system: one provides one hundred percent fresh air at all times. As the air coming out of the engine is extremely hot, it is passed through an air conditioning unit before it enters the cabin. This air then passes through the outflow valve and is replaced by fresh air coming from outside and the air conditioning unit.

The other type of ventilation system provides a ratio of fresh air and recirculated air. An example of that system is seen on Figure 2.3 (Appendix ‘C’). In this case, the air leaving the air conditioning unit is directed to a mixing unit where it meets air coming from the cabin. Before entering the mixing unit, the air from the cabin passes through a particulate filter. In modern aircraft, these filters are normally of the HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate) type. There are different levels of efficiency within the HEPA filters and there are no current regulations covering this particular aspect of ventilation. These filters only trap particulates; they have no effect on gases. After leaving the mixing unit, this mixed air is passed into the cabin. A proportion of it is exhausted through the outflow valve and the rest passes back to the mixing unit where the cycle continues. In the current commercial fleet, the ratio of fresh air to recirculated air is usually about 50:50.

In general the cabin ventilation is far superior to an office environment and the entire cabin air is exchanged every 3-4 minutes.
While there has been and still are some controversies about recirculated air, it is well accepted by ventilation experts that one hundred per cent fresh air at all times is not necessary. Indeed, nearly all commercial buildings in the last three decades have been supplied with recirculated air. In other words, if the ventilation system is adequate, recirculated air is totally acceptable. In fact, from a comfort standpoint, one clear advantage of air recirculation in aircraft is the somewhat higher degree of relative humidity.
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Old Mar 24, 12, 5:43 am
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I was working the flight and did not notice anything unusual. It is quite common to get a fainter or two especially in a packed economy section; the flight crew are always immediately alerted when this happens.
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Old Mar 24, 12, 5:43 am
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Originally Posted by badoc View Post
and the entire cabin air is exchanged every 3-4 minutes.
In the days when smoking was allowed but not now, you would be lucky if it's every 10 to 15 minutes.
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Old Mar 24, 12, 5:44 am
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Appendix C - Fig 2.3

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Old Mar 24, 12, 6:13 am
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Wow, thanks for the detailed technical info.

Yes, i am sure that flight wasnt that exceptional. Lots of people in a small space, dehydrated, tired and stressed and with bugs flying around. I only noticed it this time because I felt bad.

I think it would be interesting to see info about how air quality varies across planes and airlines. Also do those up front get more air than those in the back? I súppose they do just because of the lower density of people. Can we have an MFO/AFO scheme?
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Old Mar 24, 12, 8:25 am
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Mildly off-topic - are there any nasal sprays that genuinely work for overcoming the agony that airline ventilation wreaks on the nasal mucosa due to dehydration?
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Old Mar 24, 12, 9:45 am
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Originally Posted by dubbin View Post
Mildly off-topic - are there any nasal sprays that genuinely work for overcoming the agony that airline ventilation wreaks on the nasal mucosa due to dehydration?
I'd think that some normal saline spray for nasal use should help.

There is a product that I've seen that was advertised for flights but I cannot for the life of me remember what it was called and Google search has not been successful.
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Old Mar 24, 12, 12:01 pm
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Originally Posted by CMH23 View Post
I was working the flight and did not notice anything unusual. It is quite common to get a fainter or two especially in a packed economy section; the flight crew are always immediately alerted when this happens.
Welcome to FT, and nice to get an insider comment
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Old Mar 24, 12, 12:20 pm
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Originally Posted by LTN Phobia View Post
I'd think that some normal saline spray for nasal use should help.

There is a product that I've seen that was advertised for flights but I cannot for the life of me remember what it was called and Google search has not been successful.
I am hyper-sensitive to dryness, and although the use of a saline nasal spray does help me during and after long flights, I find that gel works much better. In the US, I've tried Ayr nasal gel and NeilMed's NasoGel, and I prefer the second one but it's not as widely available in stores. I would never fly longhaul without it.

I don't know if there are equivalent products in the UK.
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Old Mar 24, 12, 1:29 pm
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Originally Posted by hillrider View Post
I am hyper-sensitive to dryness, and although the use of a saline nasal spray does help me during and after long flights, I find that gel works much better. In the US, I've tried Ayr nasal gel and NeilMed's NasoGel, and I prefer the second one but it's not as widely available in stores. I would never fly longhaul without it.

I don't know if there are equivalent products in the UK.
I believe that Vick's First Defence helps to keep the nasal mucosa moist and acidic, which bacteria do not like. It may not be as effective as the american products listed above for dryness, but it does help to make things difficult for airborne bacteria.

Just my 2p.
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Old Mar 24, 12, 3:23 pm
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Originally Posted by hillrider View Post
I don't know if there are equivalent products in the UK.
I'm trying to think if the product I'm thinking of is from the UK or Australia.
If I come across anything in either country, I'll post though.
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Old Mar 24, 12, 3:31 pm
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Originally Posted by LTN Phobia View Post
I'm trying to think if the product I'm thinking of is from the UK or Australia.
If I come across anything in either country, I'll post though.
I use Otrivine nasal drops. It comes as a small nasal spray that easily fits inside the clear plastic baggy. Contains the active ingredient xylometazoline, which is a type of decongestant.
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Old Mar 24, 12, 3:51 pm
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A bit yuch, but simple moisturiser dose well for me. A good dollop, uhum, inserted as far as it will go.
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Old Mar 24, 12, 4:08 pm
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Originally Posted by hillrider View Post
I am hyper-sensitive to dryness, and although the use of a saline nasal spray does help me during and after long flights, I find that gel works much better. In the US, I've tried Ayr nasal gel and NeilMed's NasoGel, and I prefer the second one but it's not as widely available in stores. I would never fly longhaul without it.

I don't know if there are equivalent products in the UK.
I use Ayr nasal gel and am happy with it, but will look into the NasoGel. Thanks for the tip.
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