Medical Report: Some Flyers Should Avoid Window Seats on Long Flights

A newly published report by a panel of UK physicians contains some news good and bad for passengers who may be at risk of DVT or deep vein thrombosis – which can ultimately lead to serious problems for a very few flyers.

Why Window Seats Can be Risky

Bad news first:

Again, the risk of developing DVT – blood clots that usually form in the legs – is very low, no matter how long a flight lasts, but the risk is greater for long-haul flights, especially those of 8 to 10 hours duration.

Shorter flights can be risky as well but only for some and that would include obese passengers on flights more than four hours. The greatest risk, according to the medical report, is for those in window seats.

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It’s not so much that window seats are inherently risky, it’s a matter of window seats being more difficult to get in and out of (or are perceived as such, since many people dislike climbing over fellow passengers to get to the aisle). In other words, window seat passengers tend to stay put. And as the panel of doctors noted, remaining immobile for “long periods of time” increases the risk of DVT.

Economy vs. Coach – Same Risk

The panel debunked the myth of DVT being an aircraft class problem – they found no evidence that people in economy seating were more prone to this than those in first class.

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Drinking Alcohol Not Seen as Risk

Another bright spot: the panel found no evidence that drinking on a plane increases the risk of DVT. However, alcohol has been known to make passengers behave stupidly and increase their risk of getting thrown off a plane.

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Published: February 8, 2012