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The BBC's Karen Allen
"The committee is likely to come down heavily on the airline industry"
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Baroness Wilcox, Airline Health Inquiry Chair
"We need better information"
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Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 10:17 GMT
Flights 'should carry health warnings'
airline seats
The amount of leg-room on flights is causing concern
Airlines are to be told to issue health warnings with long-haul tickets informing passengers about the risk of developing potentially fatal blood clots from cramped conditions.

The condition, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), is a serious risk to public health, according to a report by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee due to be published on Wednesday.

People sitting in cramped conditions is not good for us on any form of transport

Baroness Wilcox, House of Lords Science and Technology Committee
Previous studies have linked DVT with long-distance flights as it can be caused by sitting in one place for long periods.

The report, Air Travel and Health, will raise concerns about the amount of leg-room available on flights - but it is expected to conclude that first-class and business-class passengers are also at risk.

Baroness Wilcox, a member of the committee, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We certainly were disturbed by the amount of anecdotal evidence around and we decided we would try to separate fact from fiction.

"It really is time now to start looking at the health, not only of the passengers, but also of the crew, for the many, many journeys we do make more and more often around the world on long haul flights.

"People sitting in cramped conditions is not good for us on any form of transport, so we will be looking for better ways of keeping yourself active and mobile, even if you can't get past the trolley.

"We certainly think that (there should be) information on tickets, based on some good research from Government. I think it would be a good idea for us to have better information on which to make our choices, provided by the airlines but approved by the DETR."

Economy class syndrome

A report from London-based consultant surgeon John Scurr - due to be published in The Lancet next month - is likely to suggest that as many as one in 10 passengers suffers from what has become known as "economy class syndrome".

Chaired by Baroness Wilcox and Lord Winston, the committee will call for government-funded research on a much larger scale.

Airlines will also be told to advise passengers on the precautions they can take - drinking plenty of water and exercising - during the flight.

Some airlines already suggest passengers exercise during long flights - but it can be hard for economy travellers who are more tightly-packed in than customers towards the front of the aircraft.

Collapsed and died

The inquiry comes the month after bride-to-be Emma Christoffersen, 28, collapsed and died from DVT minutes after stepping off a 20-hour flight from Australia.

Her parents, Ruth and John Christoffersen, have urged long-haul airline operators to give pre-flight warnings of the dangers of DVT to passengers.

The committee will also call for better standards to reduce the risk to passengers and crew of infection from poor ventilation and air quality.

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See also:

23 Oct 00 | UK
The seats of discontent
18 Nov 00 | Health
Study backs blood clot fears
10 Nov 00 | Health
More evidence of flying risk
23 Oct 00 | C-D
Deep vein thrombosis
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