We’ve all been there: you’re buckled into your aeroplane seat, pull out your comfy travel pillow and turn on the movie screen. While the intro credits start rolling, you… burst into tears? Even the most stoic passenger can break out the waterworks for seemingly no reason. So what is it about flying at 30,000 feet that makes us so emotional? There are many theories, but to get to the bottom of it, travel expert Samantha Brown recently spoke to CNN. Here’s what she had to say.
Why do we cry on aeroplanes?
In her video, Brown explains one popular theory as to why we cry on aeroplanes. She claims that our “eyes are trying to create moisture” to combat the dry atmosphere of the plane. She continues, “The only way your eyes know how to create moisture is to cry. And so it becomes this physical response that the brain sends to release the tear ducts.”
Why do we get emotional on aeroplanes?
There is, however, an interesting caveat to this theory. Brown explains, “You have to be emotional to cry [so] your body acclimates to the dryness and creates the tears,” so you have to create the emotion first to create the tears.” In other words, your brain may create an unusually heightened emotional response to something that otherwise may not have moved you. For Brown, this was humorously a flashback scene from a German shepherd in the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua. While a movie can help your brain get into the crying mood, some passengers also experience this crying while reading, writing, reflecting or simply staring out the window. (This writer once cried at a particularly awe-inspiring cloud!)