Does your stomach feel weird on a plane?

Does your stomach feel odd every time you’re up in the air? Well, you’re not alone. It’s quite common to experience weird stomach sensations on a plane, including bloating or a stomachache. Why does this happen? Let’s dive into it.

Bloated Stomach or Stomachache

Aircraft cabins are pressurized, but this pressure is still lower than what we’re used to on the ground. This lower pressure causes gases to expand, including the air in our intestines. So, if you’re someone who’s prone to constipation or enjoys carbonated beverages before flying, the gas expansion can lead to bloating or stomach discomfort. To add some context, the air inside your stomach could expand by about 30 percent due to the cabin altitude being equivalent to an altitude of 7,000 feet.

Feeling Weird on a Plane, Why?Your stomach may feel weird on a plane due to the expansion of gases at higher altitudes, which may cause bloating or stomachaches. Other factors like stress, dietary changes, and motion sickness can also contribute to this weird feeling.

Can Flying Affect Your Stomach?

Absolutely! Apart from bloating and aches, travel can play havoc with your digestion. Dr. Kyle Staller from Massachusetts General Hospital points out that travel disrupts the body’s natural rhythms, including digestion. From diarrhea and constipation to indigestion, it turns out a flight could bring along quite an eventful journey for your gut.

Understanding Stomach Discomfort During Flight

  • Stomach bloat and ache can occur mid-flight due to gas expansion at high altitudes.
  • Changes in ‘cabin altitude’ lead to gas expansion, which may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Airplane travel can disrupt your body’s natural rhythms, affecting digestion.
  • The sensation of your stomach dropping can result from changes in the plane’s rate of climb.
  • Lower cabin pressure and humidity levels can affect bodily functions, contributing to feelings of unease.
  • Jet belly is a term describing the bloated feeling after flying.
  • Oxygen saturation levels may drop during a flight, affecting your body.
  • Most symptoms, including jet belly, tend to resolve within a week post-flight.
  • Feeling movements like turbulence in a plane is normal and isn’t usually a safety concern.
  • To alleviate stomach issues, avoid certain foods, consume lots of water, and consider taking magnesium or natural supplements.
  • Stress and travel anxiety can exacerbate stomach problems.
  • Motion sickness can be a factor for feeling ill while flying.
  • Post-flight, hydration and showering can help with recuperation.

Why Does Your Stomach Drop on an Airplane?

What about that rollercoaster-like stomach drop feeling? During takeoff and periods of flight, this sensation can occur due to changes in the plane’s rate of climb, making it feel like a descent. It might not be a pleasant feeling for everyone, but for flight enthusiasts, it’s just another part of the adventure.

Why Does Your Body Feel Weird on a Plane?

The weird sensations don’t just end with your stomach. The change in pressure, temperature, lower oxygen levels, and the dry air can prompt a variety of responses from your body. These changes can distort your body’s regular functions, leading to that “off” feeling you might have while cruising above the clouds.

Jet Belly: A Bloating Experience Post-Flight

Ever heard of ‘jet belly’? It describes that post-flight bloated feeling that can make it seem like you’re a few months pregnant. It’s not exactly a term you’d find in medical books, but it’s a phrase some travelers use to describe the abdominal swelling and discomfort that comes after a long flight.

What Happens to Your Body While Flying?

Your body is indeed subject to changes while thousands of feet in the air. The blood oxygen saturation can dip compared to ground level, potentially leading to symptoms such as lightheadedness or fatigue. While flying, the body has to adjust to these changes, which might not always be a walk in the park.

How Long Does Plane Belly Last?

The good news is that ‘jet belly’ typically subsides within a week after landing. Thankfully, there are ways to manage it, including natural supplements and other techniques to ease the discomfort.

Does a Plane Feel Like a Roller Coaster?

While turbulence can sometimes make a plane ride feel akin to a roller coaster, it’s generally not as intense and, importantly, not as risky. The feeling is most palpable during bumpy weather or when experiencing strong air currents.

How to Get Rid of an Airplane Stomach

Feeling bloated? There are ways to combat it:

  • Avoid carbonated drinks and foods that make you bloated before flying.
  • Stick to water and healthy snacks aboard.
  • Stay hydrated but skip alcohol and caffeine.
  • Consider taking magnesium supplements.
  • Ditch the chewing gum; it can make you swallow air, leading to more bloating.

Travel Tips for a Happy Stomach

If you’re someone whose stomach gets messed up while traveling, be it due to the change of routine or travel stress, it’s essential to maintain a semblance of your everyday life. Eat meals at your usual times, stay hydrated, and try to manage stress effectively to keep your digestive tract as undisturbed as possible.

“As a dedicated travel expert at, I’ve explored the dynamics of flying extensively. In my article, I delve into the curious phenomenon many travelers experience: a weird sensation in their stomach during flights. This discomfort, often a mix of bloating and stomachache, can be attributed to the changes in cabin pressure and altitude that affect our digestive systems. I’ve provided insights and tips on how to mitigate these feelings to ensure a more comfortable journey.” – Timothy Lehman

Why Do I Feel Sick When Flying?

Motion sickness is real and can hit even the most seasoned travelers. It happens when your brain gets mixed signals from your body, which might be more likely if you’re dealing with stress or other factors like consuming alcohol or taking certain medications before or during a flight.

Feeling Ill After Flying?

Touching down doesn’t always mean the weird feelings subside. Dry airplane air and pressure changes can weaken your immune system and leave you feeling ill. It’s a good idea to keep yourself hydrated and rest up after a flight to bounce back more quickly.

Monica Barlow’s Anecdotes

On my last trip to the Maldives, the serenity of the islands made me forget the bloating discomfort I typically experience during flights—until the return journey, that is. Having indulged in the local fizzy drinks (one too many times, I might add), my stomach decided to mimic the expanding gas science I’d written about. There I was, a living example of my own advice, having to explain to my neighbor why “jet belly” is more than just an article topic. Take it from me, moderation is key! – Monica Barlow

Tips for Traveling While Overweight

It’s important to note that while there’s no specific ‘weight limit’ for passengers, airlines have policies in place to ensure safety and comfort, such as the requirement to lower armrests and fasten seat belts properly.

To wrap it up, the human body can have interesting reactions while up in the air. From ‘jet belly’ to motion sickness, it’s essential to be mindful of how you prepare for a flight. Remember to hydrate, eat light, and dress comfortably. Stepping off the plane feeling good is the best start to any adventure.

“Travel not only expands the horizon of your experiences but also unearths the depth of your inner flexibility. So embrace new climates, cultures, and challenges as the true tests of life’s grand adventure.”

Alexander Cartwright, Globetrotter and Philosopher

Wishing you happy and comfortable travels!

5 / 5. Votes: 22

Share This Article
Leave a comment
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments