Ever notice how your eyes look puffier after a flight? You’re not alone.

Many people experience this annoying phenomenon. It’s not just you imagining things, there are real reasons behind it. Understanding why this happens can help you take steps to avoid it. We dive into the causes and find out what you can do to keep your eyes looking fresh and awake, even after a long flight.

Cabin pressure

Aeroplane cabins are pressurised to keep us comfortable at high altitudes. However, this pressure is lower than what we experience at sea level. This lower pressure can cause fluids to accumulate in different parts of your body, including around your eyes. The result? Puffy eyes and a slightly swollen face.

Low humidity

The air in an aeroplane cabin is incredibly dry. Humidity levels are much lower than what we’re used to on the ground, typically around 20%. This dry air can make your skin and eyes dry out, causing your body to retain more water as a response. This retention leads to puffiness, particularly around the delicate eye area.


Dehydration is a common issue during flights. The dry cabin air exacerbates this problem. When your body is dehydrated, it starts to hold onto as much water as possible, leading to swelling and puffiness around the eyes. This is why drinking plenty of water before and during your flight is essential.

Lack of movement

Sitting for long periods can affect your circulation. When you’re stationary for hours, blood and fluids can pool in your lower body. Once you stand up, gravity pulls this fluid upwards, which can result in swelling around your face and eyes.

Sleep position

Sleeping on a plane is rarely comfortable. If you manage to catch some sleep, it’s often in an awkward position, like leaning against a window or a headrest. These positions can cause fluid to settle around your eyes, contributing to post-flight puffiness.

Salt and alcohol

Snacking on salty foods and drinking alcohol are common on flights. Both salt and alcohol can cause your body to retain water. This retained water can then lead to puffiness, especially in the sensitive area around your eyes.

How to reduce puffy eyes

Want to avoid puffy eyes on your next flight? Here are some tips:

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before and during your flight. This helps keep your body hydrated and reduces water retention.
  • Limit salt and alcohol: Avoid salty snacks and limit alcohol consumption. Both can worsen puffiness by causing your body to retain more water.
  • Move around: Get up and walk up and down the aisle when you can. This helps improve circulation and reduces the pooling of fluids in your lower body.
  • Use eye drops: Keeping your eyes moist can prevent them from becoming dry and irritated, reducing the likelihood of puffiness.
  • Sleep smart: Try to sleep in a comfortable position. Use a travel pillow to support your neck and head, which can help reduce fluid accumulation around your eyes.


Puffy eyes after a flight are common but not inevitable. By understanding the causes and taking a few proactive steps, you can minimise the puffiness and keep your eyes looking bright and refreshed. Safe travels!

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