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What To Do If You’re Sick On A Plane (And How To Avoid It)

Worried about getting sick on a plane? Don't panic - this guide has everything you need to make sure you're ready for it!

Flying is an amazing experience. But cramped quarters, recycled air, and the occasional bout of turbulence can leave even the most enthusiastic jet-setter feeling a bit under the weather.

That’s why we’ve prepared a guide to help you prepare yourself if you’re prone to getting sick on a plane. From pre-boarding prep to post-flight strategies, we’ll help you make sure you’re ready for anything!

sick on a plane tips and advice

What Causes Nausea On Planes?

Mid-air queasiness can get you at any moment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare. Let’s take a closer look at the common culprits that can turn a soaring adventure into a stomach-churning experience.

1. Motion Sickness

Turbulence and sudden movements can make you sick on a plane by disrupting the balance-sensing systems in your inner ears.

2. Pressure Changes

As the plane takes off or touches down, changes in cabin pressure can affect our inner ear and lead to a sense of imbalance and nausea.

3. Recycled Air

Recycled cabin air can sometimes be dry and lacking in fresh oxygen, contributing to feelings of nausea.

4. Rich Foods and Drinks

Eating heavy or rich meals, and consuming excessive caffeine or alcohol before or during the flight can lead to you getting sick on a plane.

5. Anxiety and Stress

Pre-flight jitters or anxiety about flying can contribute to feeling sick on a plane, because stress hormones affect digestion. That means you could start feeling sick.

6. Strong Smells

Strong smells or certain foods, especially heavy or pungent ones can worsen nausea in a confined space like an airplane cabin.

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Pre-Boarding Prep

Preparing your body before take-off is the best way to avoid getting sick on a plane. Let’s take a look at what you can do to prevent in-flight nausea.

1. Boost Your Immune System

Strengthen your body’s defences by getting enough rest and eating well-balanced meals. You could also consider immune-boosting supplements or vitamins before your flight.

A strong immune system can help you prevent getting sick on a plane.

2. Pack The Essentials

Pack travel-sized hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes to keep your immediate surroundings clean. Regularly sanitize your hands and surfaces around your seat to cut down exposure to germs that could contribute to feeling sick.

You should along items that promote comfort, such as a neck pillow, eye mask, or noise-canceling headphones.

These can help you relax and reduce sensory disturbances.

3. Enjoy Some Pre-Flight Relaxation

Spend some time engaging in relaxation exercises or mindfulness practices before boarding. Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or listening to calming music can help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with flying.

4. Pick Your Seat Wisely

Seats near the wing and front of the plane tend to experience less turbulence. If you’re sensitive to motion changes, consider booking these seats for your trip.

how to prevent in-flight nausea

Staying Healthy On The Plane

Once you’re in the air, there are a couple of things you should do to make sure you don’t get sick on a plane. Here’s how you can make sure you don’t end up reaching for the sick bag.

1. Stay Hydrated

Drinking water throughout your flight can fight the dehydration that can happen on planes.

2. Use Your Overhead Ventilation

Keep your overhead vent open ever so slightly to get some fresh air over you. This will help to fight off feelings of stuffiness and ward off any bad smells.

3. Eat Light

Foods like crackers, nuts, and fresh fruits are all things you can eat on the plane to keep yourself feeling full without becoming nauseous.

4. Don’t Forget To Move Around

Take a short walk down the aisle or do some stretches. This helps promote circulation, prevent stiffness, and ward off nausea.

5. Take Anti-Nausea Medication

If you’ve got medication to help you avoid prevent in-flight-nausea, you should take it before you lift-off. You can also use acupressure bands, or patches designed to help combat nausea.

how to prevent get sick on a plane

What To Do If You Do Get Sick On A Plane

You should be super prepared by now, and good to go. But, if you find a queasy feeling rising up in your stomach, here’s what you should do.

1. Identify The Symptoms

First off, you should do a check to identify if you’re feeling the symptoms of in-flight nausea.
Here are the key points:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Increased salivation
  • Sweating / Cold sweats
  • Paleness / sallow complexion
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in your breathing
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty focusing

2. Let The Crew Know

You should let the flight attendant know as soon as you start feeling sick. They’re trained for situations just like this and can show you what to do if you feel or get sick on a plane.

3. Reach For The Sick Bag

They’re a part of the flight for a reason! If you feel like you’re going to get sick on a plane, you should make use of the sick bag. You’re only human – don’t feel bad.

what to do if you get sick on a plane

Post-Flight Recovery

Once you’ve touched down, you’ll want to make sure your body adjusts to your new surroundings.
Here are some things you can do to make sure you don’t get sick after getting off the plane.

1. Hydrate

Hydration is a good idea for pre, during, and post-flight. But it’s especially important once you land. By hydrating, you give your body the liquid it needs to function properly after your flight.

2. Get Some Fresh Air

Step outside and breathe in the fresh air. You can take a few minutes to go for a short walk and get your muscles moving too.

3. Rest And Recouperation

Give yourself time to rest. If you get a chance, you should take a nap or find somewhere relaxing and quiet to chill out.

4. Avoid Heavy Meals

It might be tempting to find the nearest restaurant and tuck into a meal, but it’s important to remember that your body may not be ready for heavy foods just yet. Snack on something light and give your body time to adjust before digging into something rich.

5. See A Doctor

If you did end up getting sick on a plane, you should book a consultation with a doctor and follow up to make sure your body is okay.


Traveling the world should be an exciting experience – not a nauseating one. But, if you follow the steps in this guide, you’ll keep your body in tip top shape, and avoid getting sick on a plane.

How Air Doctor Can Help

If you aren’t touching down in your home town and need to find a doctor abroad you can use the Air Doctor app to find one abroad – anywhere, anytime. And if you’re reading this before your next flight and you’re not feeling well you can also book an urgent doctor’s visit, just in case.

Air Doctor gives you:

  • Access to over 20,000 multi-lingual doctors worldwide
  • Choice of clinic, at-home (hotel), and video visits
  • Local, valid prescriptions through our cross-border services
  • Quality medical care, including urgent visits
  • 24/7 multi-lingual customer support
  • Video consultation services in up to 21 languages
  • Partnered with leading insurance providers

Download the app, just in case.

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Jenny Cohen Drefler

Jenny Cohen Derfler

Air Dr CEO & Co-Founder

Jenny is the CEO and one of the Co-Founders at Air Doctor. She spent more than 20 years at Intel, most recently as general manager of its manufacturing facility in Israel and before that in various engineering and manufacturing roles in Silicon Valley. Air Doctor is her second startup having previously founded electric vehicle company ElectRoad.