‘A pilot safety brochure from the Federal Aviation Administration notes that “alcohol decreases the ability of the brain to make use of oxygen” — an effect that can be magnified by altitude. Not to mention that alcohol impairs reaction time and judgment, both of which are crucial in an emergency. This is especially important to consider if seated in an exit row. “Drinking alcohol can slow the response as well as a passenger’s ability to follow the crew’s instruction,” Dr. Degutis said, “and this can put other passengers at risk.”’
There is nothing wrong with drinking on a plane. But before you start tippling at 20,000, take a few things into account.
First of all, you shouldn’t be in an exit row…or the pilot…or anyone else who may perform some kind of valuable service in case of an emergency (heartbroken former pilot, wise-cracking but brilliant surgeon, demonologist). But, let’s say you’re a cocktail blogger, vacationer or business traveller with no important meetings in the next hour. In that case, order away.
When drinking on a plane, you should follow all the standard rules and social mores that accommodate sea-level drinking, with a few additions…
- Flight attendants are not bartenders. You’re not having a night out, you’re traveling. You pay for a drink, you consume it, end of story. If it’s a long flight, have a second.
- You’re going to be *that passenger* at least half the time. I don’t always order drinks on planes (only when it’s an evening flight and I’m headed straight for the place I’m staying upon landing) but several times I’ve asked for spirits while airborne and my seat mates have given me…a look. At this time, the difference between an airplane and a bar is painfully clear, but if you’re in line, the gawkers are on the wrong side in these cases.
- Don’t be thrown by the cost. Drinking is expensive while traveling and what you’ll pay on the plane is likely lower than what it’ll cost to get the same thing at your hotel.
- It’s dry up there. Ask for water.
- Stick with spirits. I know I just said not to worry about the cost, but the price and quality of wine and beer in the sky aren’t justifiable.
If you make peace with it, you’ll find that enjoying a whiskey while in flight makes even a coach-class transcontinental trek feel like a welcome break in the day. Just make sure you keep yourself in the ideal zone where you’re too relaxed to gripe about the crying baby in 15f, but not so unbuttoned that Skymall seems interesting.