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The Potential Causes Of Odd Plane Behavior


Airlines say a record number of people are traveling this summer. Packing, getting to the airport and through security - it can be stressful. And that doesn't stop at the gate.

KAT ANDERSON: When people get on a plane, they kind of revert to, like, a lizard brain, where they kind of forget all, like, social decencies and common sense.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Kat Anderson. She's been a flight attendant for just about three years, and she says she's seen a lot already.

ANDERSON: Flying kind of takes away everybody's, like, sense of control. So people, like, kind of tend to grasp at whatever kind of control they can have, whether that be, like, yelling about, like, overhead bin space above their seat or yelling about having to, like, check their bag or whatever.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We wanted to check in - get it? - on some of your plane behavior. For Alan Perez, flying brings him to tears.

ALAN PEREZ: On my last flight, I was watching "Crazy Rich Asians," and I was sobbing pretty bad. And with my blanket and my pillow, I kind of hid my face a little. I don't know why I was ashamed. But I also didn't want the guy next to me to worry about me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Perez isn't alone. There's even a term - mile cry club - for the phenomenon of unexpected tears in the friendly skies. The Boston Globe looked into it this past week and pointed to the effects of hypoxia - that's inadequate oxygen in the blood - which can be triggered by low cabin air pressure, and it can make you emotional. Amanda Wind joined the club recently on an early morning flight.

AMANDA WIND: It was a very full flight, and I decided to watch "A Star Is Born" for the first time. I didn't know anything about the plotline or that it was a sad movie at the end. And I ended up sobbing so loud I woke everybody up in my row and the row behind me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And there's a lot of evidence air pressure affects our taste buds too. Here's Alan Perez again.

PEREZ: I usually never drink ginger ale. But every time I'm on a flight, I always get ginger ale with ice. And I always eat the ice afterward.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And Kat Anderson, the flight attendant, can attest to that.

ANDERSON: Ginger ale's probably one of our most ordered drinks - same with tomato juice, where it's like, you don't normally order something like that at a restaurant. But people get on the plane, and they just crave it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But in addition to air pressure, researchers at Cornell think noise may lower our ability to taste sweet things and instead draw us to other flavors. And I'll confess. I drink tomato juice on planes and only on planes, and I cry a lot during movies. Kat Anderson says we shouldn't be ashamed because pros like her don't judge.

ANDERSON: Like, it happens enough times, and you're like, oh, well, they're doing that again. You know, it just kind of, like, becomes normal.


LADY GAGA: (Singing) I'm off the deep end. Watch as I dive in. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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