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Travel Tips what is Economy Class Syndrome

With the introduction of long haul flights, an alarming health development was unraveled and among the passengers who develop this condition, almost all of them were travelling in the economy class. The experts described the condition as ‘Deep vein thrombosis’ but, it became popular among the air travelers as ‘economy class syndrome’.

How does it develop?

According to researchers, when a person sits in the same position for a prolonged period of time, as in a long haul flight, the blood flow in the deep veins of the legs can become stagnated and could give rise to a clot. Such clots are also known as a ‘thrombus’ and has a high chance of being dislodged once the movements are re-started. A dislodged clot can travel through the blood vessels and can lodge in many organs such as in the heart, brain, lungs…etc. Such entrapment can cause massive damage to these organs and can lead to fatal outcomes. Several such incidences had occurred in the past among travelers of economy class in long haul flights but, researchers believe that the incidence is not related to the seating arrangement in the economy class but, purely because the legs are positioned in the same place for a prolonged period of time.

Who are at risk of developing this condition?

At the same time, it was also evident that, certain groups of people are more likely to develop ‘economy class syndrome’ than certain others and among these groups, pregnant mothers, persons with varicose veins, persons who have undergone hip surgery, smokers, people with limb fractures, people with past history of deep vein thrombosis, tall persons…etc have been labeled as having a higher risk.

How can you prevent ‘economy class syndrome’?

With unraveling of this condition, many airlines have quickly launched programs and campaigns to educate the travelers regarding ways to prevent such incidence from taking place. Thus, following advice can be given for travelers in long haul flights to avoid deep vein thrombosis whatever the class that they travel.

-Drink plenty of water

-Walk down the aisle once or twice every hour or two.

-Do gentle exercises to the calf region of the legs and to the toes and ankles.

-Do not smoke during the flight

-Avoid drinking coffee and alcohol during the flight

-Wear loosely fitting clothing and in case you are prone to develop deep vein thrombosis, wear a compression stocking to prevent the blood from getting stagnated.

-Consult your doctor regarding the necessity to take medications such as aspirin to prevent clot formation if you are in the risk group or has the potential to develop such conditions.


With these measures, it is possible to avoid ‘economy class syndrome’ and the travelers need not to worry about booking ‘business class’ seats for their next long haul flight.