Pressurised for your comfort

Have you ever wondered why staff on a long-haul flight always say that the plane is “pressurised for your comfort”?

The cruising altitude of a plane is typically between 7,500 and 12,000 metres.

The air pressure at 10,000 metres is only 80% of the air pressure at the top of Mount Everest. According to a bunch of folks who did oxygen tests on some Everest climbers in 2009 (and wrote a paper about it for the New England Journal of Medicine) a person not acclimatised to the altitude of Mount Everest will die within 2-3 minutes [PDF].

Oh, and it’s also about -50°C (-58° F), so you would probably need an extra blanket.

So as long as your definition of comfort is “not suffocating or freezing to death” then yes, one could say that the plane is pressurised for your comfort.

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