Finally! An Answer to Why It’s So Cold on Airplanes

Flying is uncomfortable enough. Why do they have to blast freezing cold air too?

Packing essentials always include toiletries, clothes, and shoes; but you also can’t forget your socks and sweatshirt to keep you warm on your flight. As if sitting in a cramped seat for hours isn’t uncomfortable enough, they also set the air temperature way too low. Don’t worry though; it’s actually for your benefit. The airlines aren’t just trying to coax you into buying one of their overpriced, small, and extremely scratchy blankets; there’s a medical reason it’s so cold. Want to take a snooze to avoid feeling the chills? Try these tips for sleeping on an airplane.

ASTM International conducted a study that looked into the correlation between people fainting while in the air and the cabin pressure and temperature. They found that people tend to faint more easily while flying because of a medical condition known as hypoxia. It occurs when the body tissue doesn’t receive enough oxygen. And high cabin pressure and warm temperatures can further this reaction. It’s fairly common in airline passengers.

Since body temperatures vary, airlines will keep the temperature on the low side just to be safe. That’s unfortunate for people who shiver even at the slightest breeze, but packing on a few extra layers is better than having the guy next to you pass out. Make sure to always follow these etiquette rules when flying.

So even though it’s a pain to lug your sweatshirt on your way to a tropical island vacation, try not to complain. It’s keeping you from passing out.

Want to know where you should sit on your next flight? This is the best seat on the airplane for every type of need.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.