Drinking on Flights – Etiquette, Rules, and Tips to Follow

Drinking on a plane is quite acceptable. Glossy advertisements of first class seats glamorize it by showing a smiling cabin crew member handing the passenger a tall flute of champagne.

But, it would help if you were cautious about drinking while flying.

Here, we have prepared a thorough guide of the do’s and don’ts of drinking in the sky.

How to Drink Without Incident on a Flight

1. Drink in moderation

It is common knowledge that a drink in the air equals three on the ground.

The lower air pressure inside the fuselage makes it hard for your body to digest alcohol. On the ground, a healthy human being can metabolize one standard drink every hour. Any more, and the liver can take many hours to clear it from your body.

On a flight though, there is less oxygen, so the body is unable to provide enough energy for processing alcohol. This happens even if cabins are pressurized.

The alcohol stays in your system longer, and can build up if you continue to drink. Exactly how much you can handle is something that varies significantly from person to person.

Drinking alcohol for a protracted period of time on an empty stomach can cause a metabolic complication known as alcohol ketoacidosis. Symptoms include confusion, tremors, abdominal pain, nausea, dizziness, and intense weakness. The only treatment is hospitalization for a couple of days, and IV fluid until blood acid level returns to normal.

2. Remember that alcohol is a diuretic

A diuretic is any substance that increases your need to go to the bathroom. Typical examples are alcohol, tea, and coffee. The last two, though, are not as bad as alcohol at making you lose water fast.

Frequent visits to the bathroom make you feel weak, as you become dehydrated. On top of this, the air on a plane is very dry. Even without drinking, it causes your skin to lose moisture through the pores.

Consuming both caffeine and alcohol together can give you a pounding headache.

The only way to beat this is to drink water between servings of alcohol.

3. Don’t drink out of boredom

Consuming alcohol because you have nothing better to do is the worst possible reason for drinking it.

Why not try and read a novel or the in-flight magazine? It is sure to induce sleep after a while.

When you drink out of boredom, you are not paying attention. Indulging in sipping as a nervous habit is a lot similar to smoking when stressed, acting as an automaton.

Less inhibition, in turn, causes you to drink even more.

4. Ordering a double is not a great idea

While it is a cool move on the ground, ordering a double is not such a bright idea in the air. Of course, you get enough in your hand to avoid waiting for the drinks cart.

The downside is that you also feel drunk that much faster.

If you are going to drink on a flight, put a substantial gap between drinks. In between, have a refreshing bottle of water and wait for the buzz to die down.

Take a walk down the aisle, stare out of the window, and occupy your mind as best as you can.

5. Having a bite is a great idea

It is not a smart move to drink on an empty stomach. Not only does it damage your gut and liver, but it also makes you feel uneasy.

The problem gets worse when you have a bubbly drink, like vodka with soda.

The lack of air pressure causes the bubbles to become larger and more difficult to belch out.

The same holds true for beer and champagne.

Have a bite before you start drinking. A sandwich is ideal, but you could also partake in almonds, chocolate, walnuts, pecans, and raisins. 

Being full of food also means you might have less inclination to order another round.

6. Don’t bring your own booze

The exact rules vary across the world, but you cannot crack open a new bottle of rum on a flight.

But, drinkers who are tired of paying $7 for a shot of whiskey have discovered a workaround.

In the U.S., you can carry small containers of liquid on board. The catch being each container can hold no more than three fluid ounces. You could bring 10 bottles, and no one would bother you at airport security. Because of this rule, most liquor stores in the U.S. sell tiny bottles of spirits colloquially known as “airline bottles.”

While it is perfectly legal to carry alcohol, it is improper. When you get drunk, you make others on the flight miserable.

7. Don’t treat the flight attendant as a bartender

Go easy on the cocktails. They take time to mix, shake and strain. The garnishes and trimmings take a while, too.

As soon as someone orders a cocktail, the rest of the cabin will begin clamoring for one. It is tiresome to make them, so have a heart.

The flight attendants have a lot to do: heat food, provide blankets and pillows, and look after passengers and ensure they feel comfortable on a long-haul flight.

Most of them perpetually travel and are fatigued enough as it is.

Exercise Wisdom…

We are not judging anyone who chooses to drink on a flight, but it pays to be smart about your consumption.

First off, if you get injured as a result of overindulgence, there is the possibility that your travel medical insurance or travel insurance may not cover it. Many insurance plans have alcohol exclusions, and will not cover you for events that occur when you are over the legal BAC limit. Therefore, drinking too much could result in a hefty medical bill that you’re solely responsible for.

Plus, if you get totally hammered, your fellow passengers will have to endure you for several hours. Moreover, it is not fun to get drunk on a flight. The hangover will seem like a piledriver working overtime. 

Have a couple of drinks that are well-timed, but no more, as it rarely ends well.

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