Have you ever cried on an airplane? If you cried in response to something concrete, like hearing “Does anyone know how to fly a plane?” then that’s perfectly understandable. But many people report feeling more emotional while flying even when doing something mundane like watching a movie. Chrissy Teigen brought up the subject on Twitter, and got plenty of responses and possible reasons: altitude, lack of oxygen, anxiety, and alcohol.
For SURE. I cried at Legally Blond 2 and Thor Ragnarok. Some say it’s the air pressure but I believe it’s because deep down your subconscious knows it might be the last movie you ever see
— joe randazzo (@Randazzoj) May 2, 2019
It turns out that this is a known phenomena that has been studied quite a bit.
Jodi De Luca, a clinical psychologist in Colorado who considers the effect of altitude on emotions one of her areas of interest, says passengers might feel a lack of control over their environment or a sense of anxiety that something bad could happen on the plane. That prompts the brain to produce a stress hormone, which can result in an increased heart rate and faster breathing.
“It’s not just psychological or emotional, it’s also a physical and physiological event. It’s never any one variable. And that’s important,” she says. “We are cognitively, psychologically, emotionally [compromised], and now we’re physiologically compromised. The setup is perfect for an emotional vulnerability.”
(Image credit: Austrian Airlines)