Cramped Airline Seats Nearly Killed a Man

Travel News
Share Tweet Submit Pin

Airlines treating passengers like sardines seems to be less and less hyperbolic by the day, and one such passenger nearly lost his life because of the airline’s cramped seating.

Colin Savage, a 64-year-old adventurer from Victoria, British Columbia, was returning home after a hiking trip in Argentina. On his Air Canada flight home from Chile to Toronto, 6’2” Savage says rough turbulence confined him to his economy seat for most of the 10-hour flight, which left the man restless and squirming with his knees pressed against the seat in front of him, he told CBC. Just a classic case of sardine syndrome, right?

After returning home to British Columbia, Savage began experiencing “horrible” pain in his lower back, and a trip to the doctor confirmed the avid adventurer had deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition that can occur when travelers stay in small, cramped spaces, with little or no movement, for periods over four hours. In Savage’s case, the condition was so bad that the blood clots traveled up his legs, through his heart, and into his lungs, nearly killing him, the Canadian broadcasters report.

DVT and air travel have long been connected, and, in Air Canada’s response to Savage’s
complaint, they noted that there’s still no conclusive medical evidence deeming flying the sole cause of DVT— though many doctors and the World Health Organization agree that airline travel increases your risk of blood clots and that the longer you travel the higher the risk for developing DVT. It’s estimated that one in 5,000 travelers are affected by DVT, and the condition is the third most common vascular disease next to stroke and heart attack. Annually, 900,000 have DVT, and up to 100,000 die from it.

To reduce your risk of contracting DVT, you should keep hydrated, wear loose clothing (maybe a pair of these blood-circulating granny socks), and try to take a walk at least once an hour. If you’re too shy to wake the sleeping passenger next to you, then recall those ankle stretches from soccer practice to increase blood flow to your legs.

Tom is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.

Also in Travel