Passengers have been cleared to fart on flights, at least by scientists.
On balance researchers say it's better to let it out than to hold it in.
The scientists say in-flight flatulence could be combated with stench-stifling charcoal seats or undies.
But curbing the foul fug doesn't end with charcoal, they also reckon trousers and blankets could benefit from odour-neutralising technology, and go so far as to recommend the ''extreme'' measure of fitting passengers with rubber pants - replete with vapour-collecting air bag.
The team of British and Danish gastroenterologists published the study ''Flatulence on airplanes: just let it go'' in the New Zealand Medical Journal today.
Other ''politically incorrect'' solutions included barring the fart-prone from flying or tampering with the fibre content of airline food to ''reduce its flatulent potential.''
The piece also provides some ripe ammunition in the battle of the sexes - the researchers found there was no evidence suggesting men let rip more than women.
However, they do cite studies showing women's ''flatulence odour is significantly worse compared to that of men".
The banning of smoking on commercial flights had boosted ''the risk of nasally detecting even small amounts of intestinal gases'' in modern cabins where roughly 50 per cent of air is reticulated and improvements in sound-proofing meant passengers were more likely to be able to hear the sulphurous rumblings of others.
Researchers even drew a distinction between the proverbial loud-but-proud and silent-but-violent, defined as "sneaking a fart" versus a "loud fart- where a large amount of intestinal gas is passed through the anus in a short period of time.''
Overall they concluded, despite the social costs of public flatus, letting it out was better than holding it in.
Restraining gas lead to a raft of ''significant drawbacks'' including discomfort, pain, bloating, indigestion, stress and heartburn.
Trapping could also be problematic for those afflicted with fart incontinence or those that had fallen asleep, leaving both groups open to the embarrassment of involuntary farts triggered by turbulence, coughing and sneezing.
Although scientifically preferred liberating wind was not without its pitfalls.
''Obviously proximity to other passengers may cause conflict and stigmatisation of the flatulating individual.''
Farting also presented a soiling hazard, which ''may require damage control in the airplane toilet".
Stinkiness could also affect the cabin crew's quality of life but more importantly could cause turbulence in the cockpit.
''The pilots may encounter the opposite of a win/win situation. On one hand, if the pilot restrains a fart, all the drawbacks previously mentioned, including diminished concentration, may affect his abilities to control the airplane.
"On the other hand, if he lets go of the fart his copilot may be affected by its odour, which again reduces safety on-board the flight.''
Do you have any in-flight horror stories? Leave a comment below.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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