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Air Compression in the Cabin

EL AL Health Tips

Air in the passenger cabin must be compressed because the atmospheric pressure outside the plane cannot support human life. Air compression levels in the cabin are kept as close as possible to the atmospheric pressure on earth, and at maximal flight altitudes, cabin air pressure is similar to that of the air pressure at 2440 meters, which is the altitude of most ski sites. During the climb after takeoff and the descent before landing, cabin air pressure changes. Air pressure in the passenger cabin and normal rates of change in this pressure do not constitute a problem for most passengers. However, if you suffer from upper respiratory inflammations, sinusitis, asthma, anemia or heart disease, you may experience some discomfort because of the relatively low percentage of oxygen in the air at this altitude or because of pressure changes in the ear-nose-throat area.

Children and babies are especially sensitive to changes in pressure during changes in altitude.

If you suffer from stuffed nose as a result of allergies or a cold, swollen nasal membranes can block your Eustachian tubes – the small canals between the nasal passages and your inner ear – causing discomfort and pain, especially during descent. Consult with your physician before the flight about the use of nasal sprays, mucus diluters and antihistamines, 30 minutes before descent, to help open the ear passages and sinuses.


  • If you suffer from a medical condition that requires extra oxygen, you can order it from us. Please notify us of your needs at least seven days before your flight.
  • In order to try to equalize pressure in your ears, try swallowing or yawning. These actions can help open your Eustachian tubes, while equalizing pressure between the inner ear and the pharynx.
  • When traveling with a baby, you can feed him or give him a pacifier during descent. Sucking and swallowing can help babies to equalize the pressure in their ears.

Please note that the information provided here is general and is not intended to replace consultation with a certified doctor.